Theatre producer Zuleikha Chaudhari is presenting a stage adaptation of Japanese writer Haruki Murakami’s short story On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning. The unconventional solo performance by Manish Chaudhari will be held in three separate rooms at the studios of the Khoj International Artists’ Association in New Delhi. Chaudhari spoke to Lounge about her choice of subject, the setting, and the style and nature of the performance.
Tell us about your interpretation of Murakami’s short story.
It is not a stage adaptation, because there is no performance on a conventional proscenium stage. This is a solo piece and the performance moves
between three separate rooms at the Khoj studio. The audience will move from room to room with the performer. Each room has a distinct lighting installation — basically, neon tube lights arranged in different configurations.
Manish Chaudhari in ‘On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning’.
Why three rooms?
Once you move out of a conventional proscenium theatre, the notion of performance changes. These are small rooms, so the audience and the performer will be very close to each other. A change in space, and a change in medium, alters the performance dynamics.
The short story has a single narrative voice. Dividing the performance over three rooms fragments the narrative. You listen to the story in bits and pieces. And, there is the physical language of the performance, which doesn’t so much illustrate the text as opens it up.
What does it mean to “open the text up”? How do you do that?
Any story is read and interpreted differently by different readers. The attempt here is to open up the story to different perspectives through performance. Which is why the performance is fragmented, though it does have a narrative integrity.
Why did you choose this particular story, which is about a young man meeting his perfect partner?
He sees her but never meets her. The story is about the nature of memory, which is ephemeral and fragmented. Here, the content of the play is translated into the form of the play — the choice of setting emerges from the nature of the piece.
Have you done something like this earlier?
Yes. I have been in theatre for 10 years now, but such performances are not commercially viable. So I have done them outside the country or at theatre festivals.
Have others done similar work before you?
Yes. There have been a lot of alternative performance works structured around the idea of getting out of the conventional proscenium stage. I have, for instance, been to a performance which was meant for just one audience member at a time.
Just as viewers take away different stories from a sculpture or a painting or an art installation, my idea is to leave things open and not force one kind of perception. The idea is to see how moments are perceived in real life and structure a performance based on that.
On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning will be performed at 7.30pm from 27 August to 31 August at Khoj Studios, New Delhi. Seating will be on a first come basis. For details, call 011-65655873 .