Home Chennai Enjoy a good laugh with ‘The President is Back’

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    Revisit well-known play, The President is Comingby debutant Anubav Pal

    After the play’s premiere at Mumbai’s Rage festival in 2006, playwright Anubav Pal’s The President is Coming was catapulted to cult status, with a movie version inspiring a new wave of satire in Indian independent cinema. Theatre company Crea-Shakthi will soon stage a 90-minute revival in the city, keeping the story true to its free-spirited, irreverent nature. The story follows six contestants touted to be India’s best in their fields, competing to meet then President George W Bush on his visit to India in 2006. Packed with a generous dose of regional stereotypes and slapstick humour, every staging of the play has seen actors make it their own and interpret scenes and dialogues differently. “But probably the most fascinating part of this play is, unlike most that depend on the paraphernalia of sets, there’s a minimalist approach with regard to the backdrop and the props,” says Amrithavarshini Venkatesh, about her debut directorial venture.

    Debut jitters
    Working under directorial guide Amitash Pradhan, 22-year-old Venkatesh’s move from campus theatre at IIT Madras to a full-fledged production is a major one. Her experience ranges from set design to acting, and taking the director’s seat seems a natural progression. However, Venkatesh doesn’t deny it’s going to be challenging—the script calls for a delicate balance between improvisation and retaining the genius of the original humour. “The focus of the whole play is on the body language and comic timing of the actors, and the bunch I’m working with are a unique mix of actors. So reconciling our differences in terms of what works and what doesn’t has been a tough but insightful journey,” shares Venkatesh. What makes this a play that performers and viewers revisit from time to time? Venkatesh attributes the timelessness of the production to well-constructed tropes and commentary. “What’s fascinating about the story is its relevance—the discourse on social mores and what the youth wants never gets old,” says Venkatesh, adding, “Another retentive value is the incredibly interactive nature of the script.” Clear indicators that 2006 or 2014, the President will continue to matter.

    At The Music Academy Mini Hall at 4 pm and 7 pm. Tickets from Rs. 200. Details: creashakthi.com.

    —Divya Karthikeyan

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