Monday, February 8, 2021

"What Happened" at Chennai Art Theatre

What Happened
(also titled I Hate This) will be produced at Chennai Art Theatre in Chennai, India on March 6, with two performances. 

The actor T.M. Karthik Srinivasan contacted me last January. He had come across the script and asked for permission to perform the role. COVID-19 closed public performances around there as everywhere, but in Chennai they are beginning to congregate and produce live theater.

As Karthik told me stand-up comedy is extremely popular, but he wanted to try something different. I was delighted at the prospect of someone telling this story to a new audience. Would it be translated? No, they will be performing in English.

TM Karthik
It’s only in the United States that people only know how to speak one language.

But my play, I Hate This, in spite of its universal themes of loss, doubt, communication and compassion, is a tale particular to me, a straight, white, American man. Working in communication with Karthik, and director Denver Anthony Nicholas we have negotiated certain changes, necessary to bring the story to their audience.

We changed the title, as you can see (more on that here) and names of all characters will be Indianized. Also, there will be another actor. Mrittika Chatterjee will perform the women’s roles. And we have eliminated two scenes, Sitting Up and The Future.

Why cut these scenes? Well, I could go into that. Someday, probably some day soon, I will. It was a request, and I honor it. For the time being it is enough to say that this production is an experiment for me, to see how far we can go to tell a story that needs to be told. Think of me as dead. What might future artists do with my writing, to keep it relevant, and to pass along the message.

Call me Shakespeare.

I am not dead, of course. And I have approved these changes. Another playwright might not, and that would have to be respected, let me make that clear. For me, this is a powerful opportunity to test the elasticity of our story, to share it with people around the globe.

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