Roald Dahl’s James and the Giant Peach comes rolling into town as a bilingual
It was lack of time—to write a screenplay to début at Prithvi Theatre’s summer festival last year—that got actor-director Gagan Dev Riar to look online for inspiration. Having never read a Roald Dahl book, he stumbled upon an adaptation of James and the Giant Peach and was hooked. “I chose it because I believe in magic. I’m a dreamer and someday, I’d like to take a journey like James,” laughs Riar, who has since begun reading Dahl’s books.
The 33-year-old, who says the 100-minute play is his most popular directorial (his previous two didn’t get much visibility because of lack of funding), has adapted the story for Indian audience. “James’ journey starts in Mumbai and ends in London. I also made it a bilingual so more people can understand it. In fact, when we come down to Chennai (next week), I plan to bring in some local flavour,” he says.
But he did face some challenges, especially the technicality involved in portraying the story—about a young boy who sets off on a giant peach to explore the world and makes a variety of friends, from caterpillars to ladybugs, along the way. “The story is very cinematic and to bring that on stage is tough. After considering shadow play and projections, I decided to use the audience’s imaginations instead. Like in the scene where the peach comes rolling down a cliff, the actor throws a giant ball into the audience and asks them to pass it around to save themselves from being crushed,” he explains.
With original songs—written and composed by Riar and his cast, and performed live on stage—and a quick Hindi primer at the beginning, it promises to be interactive and fun.
July 24, 6 pm, at the Music Academy. Rs 350 onwards. Details: eventjini.com
Surya Praphulla Kumar