This month, Austin Shakespeare presents Tom Stoppard’s Indian Ink in our Rollins Studio Theatre. With 8 performances left, each one of them includes a brief “Talk Back” for audiences with actors and director Ann Ciccolella on the theater of ideas, romance and characters. Some will even feature guest commentators after the show. Read on for a look behind Stoppard’s play, the playwright himself, and Austin Shakespeare’s casting process.
Austin Sheakespeare’s actors, designers and craft people have been exploring colorful attractions and conflicts of Britain and India of Tom Stoppard’s play Indian Ink. with six South Asian actors as well as cultural consultants, we explored the famous playwright’s theatrical approach of two time periods sharing the stage. In the immensely popular play Arcadia (2012), we used the same side-by-side time-jump to our audiences’ delight in the intimate Rollins Theatre.
In Indian Ink, you will see a scene in suburban Britain in the 1980s on one side of the stage, with India in 1930 from the point of view of free-spirited poet Flora Crewe on the opposite side of the stage. The two cultures develop in both admiration and conflict throughout this play. In this way, Indian Ink explores the heart of Indian artistic expression called “Rasa,” which emerges through the experience of the observer and the artistic creator…through the art work itself.
Why is Tom Stoppard considered by many theater critics to be one of the world’s greatest living playwrights? Our audiences have responded to our two other productions of his work with tremendous enthusiasm: Arcadia and The Invention of Love (2015). Stoppard has often been praised as witty and tremendously smart (Shakespeare in Love), but Indian Ink reveals his depth of soul in both his portrait of romance touched by the darkness of loss that Indian Ink beautifully expresses.
Austin Shakespeare held many auditions to find the cast you will see. We did a national search to find the actor to play the artist—our guest from Atlanta is Tamil Periasamy. All other Indian characters are played by Austin actors: Srini Raghavan as the host Coomaraswami; Siddharth (Sidd) Kumar as the server Nazrul; Prakash Udupa as the Indian scholar Dilip; Harsh Joshi as the Rajah who transforms into a modern politician; and Austin comedy improv headliner, Sanjay Rao as the painter’s son. Popular Austin Shakespeare actors include: Jill Blackwood as the poet Flora, Babs George as her sister; Keith Paxton as her love interest, and Colum Morgan as the satiric scholar who tries to solve her mysteries.
Performed in New York in 2014 to great acclaim, some have called Indian Ink Stoppard’s most romantic play because, even though it expresses ruthless criticism of the British Raj, it has so much optimism.
For 8 more performances from now until Sunday, March 3, catch Austin Shakespeare’s production of Tom Stoppard’s Indian Ink in our Rollins Studio Theatre!