4 Jul 2017

An Indian 'Dead Poets Society'

Mumbai,  (PTI) A new theatre adaptation of 1989 American drama "Dead Poets Society", that revolutionised the process of education, will hit the stage today at Prithvi Theatre here.

Conceptualised by members of the Sophia College English Dramatics Association, the play named after the original film, is being performed as part of the monthly 'Thespo@Prithvi' initiative.

Directed by Vahishtai Ghosh, it is the story of nine women, told in an Indian context to make the story more "relatable" for themselves and for the audience.

"Dead Poets Society is a story for everybody, and it brings to life numerous other stories. This play is a collective representation of nine women, each of whom is inspiring in their own right.

"It didn't make sense for us to attempt to be American girls in an American school and an American context. We really just worked to make the story more ours, more relatable," Ghosh told PTI.

While the play was adapted without any "strong political agenda in mind", Ghosh insists that it remains inseparable from the theme of education.

"It is a commentary on the current state of educational institutions...on how we continue to teach our children that to be successful, one must abide by the rules of 'hoi polloi'.

"Educators at every level today, more than ever, must remember to nurture a child's wonder and curiosity for the world. We must not forget to encourage them to take the time to pet a cat, smell a flower, or count blades of grass in a field," she said.

First performed as part of the college's platinum jubilee celebrations, the play will now see the names of the characters changed in the latest show -- Keatings, originally played by Robin Williams in the film, has become Gracias.

Ghosh said they have consciously distanced themselves from the American drama to an extent that the narrative's focus shifts from the teacher to the students, "who are vastly different from one another".

"It brings to the play a degree of subjectivity.

Keating's world view itself is not what we wish to propagate through this play. I pray that you see yourself, as well as someone you know and love in these characters, and take from the play what you choose to," she said.

The play will also be staged tomorrow.

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