Home Chennai In the company of pigs

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    Mathivanan Rajendran from Stray Factory collaborates with The Madras Players to present the satire, Animal Farm

    Famished, abused and ignored, the animals at Manor Farm stage a revolution to overthrow their drunk master. While a system is established and the animals adopt the ‘Seven Commandments of Animalism’, the pigs betray the others and assume power. Their only rule: All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. Based on George Orwell’s classic novel, Animal Farm, the play adapted by Peter Hall, the founder of the Royal Shakespeare Company, is coming to the city. Directed by Mathivanan Rajendran from Stray Factory, in association with The Madras Players, it will be staged at Museum Theatre.

    Current affairs
    Rajendran’s earliest memory of Animal Farm is the 1954 cartoon, which recently celebrated its 60th anniversary. “I watched it as a child and then read the book in my teens. It had a very profound impact on me. But back then, I didn’t know why; that came later in life. Also, since this is a collaboration with The Madras Players, I wanted to try a piece that would allow us to explore something we wouldn’t be able to do on our own,” begins the actor-director, on what will be his eighth production. He believes the play is worringly relevant even today. “Among several layers, the way we respond to authority, idolise our leaders, fail to question anything and, most of all, how we’re all living in a time of exploitation make the play relevant,” he shares. With 12 actors (some of them doing multiple roles), this 90-minute play has been made accessible even for those who haven’t read the book.

    Natural impact
    An Orwell fan, Rajendran tells us, “I’m a great fan of dystopian fiction. I loved Orwell’s 1984. In fact, the first play I directed was called Dystopia and, in preparation, I probably consumed related fiction for a year,” he says. Meanwhile, he has not ruled out the option of adapting Animal Farm to an Indian milieu. “I considered it, but in the last five years of directing, I’ve never stayed faithful to an original. If I were to do it, why not something by Orwell? I do intend on reviving this in a few years with an all-Indian aesthetic,” says Rajendran who has acted in more than 20 plays. As a director, he found Animal Farm challenging, especially the physicality and visual imagery. “I also found it difficult to communicate what I had in mind for certain scenes. I was backed by good actors and choreographers, so we managed to make good breakthroughs,” he concludes.

    At Museum Theatre, on November 28, 29, 30, from 7.15 pm. Tickets from `200 onwards. Details: in.bookmyshow.com

    —Mrinalini Sundar

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