A man lying on stage in nothing but his underwear amidst an odd mix of knickknacks — a pair of old canvas shoes, a blue tricycle, a stool, and a helmet — wakes up from his sleep, and luxuriously clean
A man lying on stage in nothing but his underwear amidst an odd mix of knickknacks — a pair of old canvas shoes, a blue tricycle, a stool, and a helmet — wakes up from his sleep, and luxuriously cleans his teeth right there with powder from a tin of Colgate. This is your Don Quixote for the night, a man who believes he is a knight-errant on a mission to help every soul in need.
Spanish language’s most popular literary figure is soon joined by more practical, and thus sceptical, Sancho the squire. Despite his apprehensions about the imagined “missions” Don Quixote wants to undertake, Sancho decides to accompany him, and thus begin the series of (mis)adventures. As the play Waiting for Quixote progresses, Quixote’s valiant efforts, often misplaced, are offset by Sancho’s practical scepticism.
Waiting for Quixote, a fresh interpretation of Miguel de Cervantes’ 17th century Spanish classic Don Quixote, will be presented on November 2 at the India International Centre at 6.30 pm. In this production by Yellowcat Theatre, Quixote and Sancho, played by Gandharv Dewan and Piyush Kumar respectively, bring the stage alive with their energy and dialogues delivered in lucid, contemporary English peppered with Hindi.
“This play has only the two main characters from Don Quixote — Quixote and Sancho, who represent a lot of contemporary issues,” said the director and dramaturgist Sukesh Arora. “What fascinated me was that this story speaks to us about our times. It is a very political piece. What does it mean to be good Are your intentions enough or do your actions need to be in sync with your intentions Look at our politicians — their intentions might be right but their actions say something different. They are the Don Quixotes of today!”
Made in collaboration with the Cervantes Institute, Delhi, Waiting for Quixote is a part of the annual IIC festival. Don Quixote, which was originally published in two volumes in 1605 and 1615, is a novel about a Spanish gentleman Alonso Quixano who reads enough chivalric romance novels that he loses sanity. He embodies those very novels and imagines himself a knight-errant, out on a mission to save chivalry and is often described a madman.
Mr Dewan, a graduate from the National School of Drama, said, “Since it only the two of us on stage throughout the play, representing entire episodes is challenging. But it is also very interesting and exciting at the same time.”
“I enjoyed the freedom that I can play various characters who flow on and off the stage, there’s a certain degree of ambiguity in my role. That was a lot of fun,” added Mr Kumar, who has been a part of several plays, commercials and films. Though the book is considered inherently theatrical, compressing it into a 90-minute performance, that too with just two actors, is a task in itself. Playwright Dale Wasserman, the liberattist of the Broadway musical Man of La Mancha based on Don Quixote, had said in 1999, “Trying to compress this book into a neat dramatic structure was like trying to force a lake into a bucket —ambitious but impractical.”
Mr Arora mirrors this. “The book is massive. I have used elements of the story, drew up a framework and allowed the actors to improvise. I don’t believe in scripts; there’s always an edge when the play isn’t scripted. Besides these are great actors, I have worked with them before,” added Mr Arora, the founder and director of Yellowcat Theatre.
Mr Arora, who helmed the play Quixote Wallah based on Don Quixote in 2014 with several more characters, said, “For me, Quixote represents the idea of the failure of good and failed good intentions.”
Waiting for Quixote, unencumbered by pompous language or elaborate costumes, promises to be a thought-provoking, entertaining play. A glimpse of the absurd yet wise play came forth as Quixote tried to persuade Sancho to become his squire. Quixote makes a convinced proclamation, “Love is what you will and will is what you love and love is love.” Profound Possibly!