Salim Ghousea��s dramatic monologue, Troubadour, explores human nature through the Sufi poeta��s writings
s a child, Salim Ghouse remembers asking mullahs and priests whether they had seen God and why they asked him to a�?love everyonea�� when no one else did. a�?I never got any answers and I am thankful for that, because then the search for it starts. Troubadour was the culmination of all that searching,a�? begins the actor and theatre veteran. A one-man act, Troubadour uses the stories and poems of 13th century Sufi mystic, Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, to celebrate love. a�?Rumi had stepped outside the orthodox fold of religion and embraced all of mankind. Ia��ve taken three stories which, though written over 800 years ago, are still very contemporary and Ia��ve interwoven poems, mirroring different states of the mind (joy, sorrow, and the like), to ask the primal question, a�?Who am I?a��a�? says the founder of Mumbai-based theatre group, The Phoenix Players, who is bringing down his 70-minute performance to Chennai next weekend.
Though it might be Troubadoura��s debut in the city, its journey began 11 years ago when it premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe festival. a�?I remember how theya��d asked who this crazy man was, who was a�?performinga�� Rumi. Till then, people had only recited his poems. But once they saw it, they said a�?my god, it worksa��,a�? Ghouse smiles, explaining why he brought in the concept of troubadours. a�?Ita��s a tribute to our tarabdars (storytellers). Storytelling is the worlda��s most ancient art, where they sang, recited and acted. Ia��ve also used a�?troubadoura�� as a tongue-in-cheek terma��the dictionary describes them as 16th century poets from Provence who sang of romance and chivalry. Thata��s so shallow, when the original was a God-intoxicated minstrel who sang about mana��s relationship with the entire universe,a�? he states.
From pain to love
The play doesna��t have an even structure, he says. It comprises different peoplea��s translations of Rumia��from Gudri Shah, a modern Sufi master, to American writers Coleman Barks and Jonathan Star. a�?Putting them all together was a challenge, but I followed my instinct. As the performer, I am a�?Everymana�� on stagea��everything I say is on behalf of the audience, reflecting their own questions,a�? says Ghouse, who uses no sets or props, except for a small stick. a�?I will also occasionally banter with them, inject a little humour, because a stage performance is boring for me if the audience and I are far away,a�? he says, adding that he hadna��t brought down the play earlier because he wasna��t sure if people would accept a non-proscenium set up. a�?Ia��ve called Troubadour a celebration of love because, to realise love, you must go though humiliation and pain. Ia��ve structured it like that and it has worked for 75 shows, so I must be doing something right,a�? he signs off.
September 12-13, 4 pm and 7 pm, at Alliance Francaise. Rs 250. Details: in.bookyshow.com
a��Surya Praphulla Kumar