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Of Guilt, Redemption and Conversation with Strangers

Director Vivek Madan on Christopher Kloeble\'s searing Stalowa Wola

Published: 31st January 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st January 2015 12:37 AM   |  A+A-

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WHITEFIELD: Karl has just confessed a few sins to his wife in a letter. However, before she could read the letter, she dies. But soon enough, her ghost comes back, asking him to look for her. A journey follows.

Stalowa Wola, by German playwright Christopher Kloeble, premiered at Jagriti on Friday. The result of a collaboration between Jagriti theatre and the Goethe Institut, the play directed by Vivek Madan is a thriller of sorts and puts to test a man and his  quest for truth. The name of the play is a place in Poland, the place where Karl is journeying to. In early 2013, as part of the Goethe Residency Program, Christopher Kloeble (the playwright) spent a few months in Bengaluru, during which time, he translated his play into English. It was then that Madan, an actor himself, read the lead role’s part. Almost a year later, a full production has been developed.

“You know how strangers somehow always have something of tremendous relevance to say to you? And at the time, you don’t know that it’s changing you in some way, but you want to get away from the situation as soon as you can, to make sense of what the person has just told you. Karl’s conversations with these strangers are a little like that,” says Madan.

“And some of these conversations are not so benign. These people seem to have insights into Karl’s mind, that stick too close to the bone. So they almost take on a dangerous tone,” he continues. Kloeble himself was in town.  “It helped because he could explain the context. Since we’ve hardly changed any of the text, it was easier because we had someone who knew German with us,” says Madan.

Madan figured also that his interpretation of the play was often digressive  rather than derivative. “Christopher would say, ‘Oh, that’s not how I thought of it,’ but we’ve retained our interpretations. He was fine with it and that’s how I think it should be,” he shares. “And the story is more universal. It’s about this guilt-ridden man looking for some purpose, even if it’s at a very superficial level. Who wouldn’t relate to that? In fact, when one of the actors read the play, he remarked that he was going through something similar,” he adds. Salmin Shariff plays Karl and Jagdish Raja plays a farmer. The newcomers are Minty Jain (who plays the dead wife), Indumathi Manohar and Devashish Singbal. Directing Stalowa Wola has been a novel experience for Madan. “The treatment of the play is not set in stone. The conversations are more fluid. And some things have been placed deliberately off-centre,” he says.

Madan also thinks it’s time he’s revisited acting. “It’s how I charge my batteries. I’m finding it tough to approach an idea with a fresh perspective. And acting can take me back to that. This play is also a step towards looking at things differently and being open to things that don't always make  sense,” he says.

Stalowa Wola, suitable for 18 years and up, has three more shows at Jagriti, Whitefield -- today at 8 pm and tomorrow at 3 pm and 6.30 pm. Tickets are priced at `300.

(Inputs by Chetana Divya Vasudev)



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