ADA — This year’s Ohio Northern University International Play Festival will showcase ancient and modern Indian culture.
Students will be performing “Hayavadana,” a play written in the 1970s by Girish Karnad based on ancient Sanskrit stories.
“Karnad was really interested in weaving together the modern and the ancient as a way to explore modern Indian culture by retaining the old but also finding the new,” said Festival Dramaturg Joan Robbins.
The play is being directed by Gaurav Saini and Irfana Majumdar, a husband and wife duo from Varanasi, India. Saini is doing a semester-long residency at ONU on the Fulbright Scholarship.
“Hayavadana” also incorporates Sanskrit singing and Kathak, a traditional Indian style of dance. Those will be accompanied by two traditional Indian instruments — the sitar, a string instrument, and the tabla, a percussion instrument.
“That’s also part of the selection of the play, that we can use all these things to make for a whole cultural experience, not just in terms of text but in terms of body movement and sound,” Saini said.
The plot centers around two best friends caught up in a traditional love triangle. However, in this version, both friends end up headless out of grief and a goddess switches their heads by accident.
“It’s quite crazy, but there are some universal situations and themes in it,” Robbins said. “The audience should come and enjoy the music, the dance and the story. They don’t need any special background. This is a performance for everybody.”
Nic Hayman, a junior theater major and communications minor, plays one of the best friends and said working with Saini and Majumdar has been a blessing.
“In this department, we learn a lot about a lot of cultures, but to actually learn it from someone from that culture, it’s just significantly more immersive and feels more authentic,” Hayman said.
Reach Tara Jones at 567-242-0511.