In the early 1900s in Paris, a farcical play by Georges Feydeau called A Flea In Her Ear went on to achieve the status of a classic. Having seen various interpretations over the years, it is now taken up by Bengaluru’s oldest theatre group. The play is staged as part of their annual Summer Project On Theatre (SPOT) programme, where participants are trained in various aspects of theatre, culminating in a public performance. Called The Frisky Suspenders, the production is a partnership between Bangalore Little Theatre (BLT) and Alliance Francaise, and will be performed this weekend, starting today.

Abishek Sundaravadanan, director of the play, gives ET more details. Edited excerpts from an email interview:

(a) Why was this play chosen for SPOT?

As a part of our continuing partnership with the Alliance Francaise, we do original scripts or adaptations of French playwrights. Having done Moliere, Antigone (Anouilh’s existentialist version) and Rhinoceros (Ionesco’s ‘Theatre of the Absurd’) it was time to turn to Farce! The play has a plethora of characters that bodes well for a SPOT production.

(b) What backgrounds do the actors come from? What was the challenge in getting amateurs without a theatre background to perform on stage?

The cast comes from varied backgrounds since SPOT’ers are picked on a first come first serve basis with absolutely no selection process. We meet the candidates for the very first time on the first training day. We have folks from 14 to 41 years of age.

Honestly, there have been no challenges with this motley bunch of first-timers. If anything, it is all the more fun, since they do not come with prior experience and have no preconceived notions. They seem to have grown well into their roles and are raring to go.

(c) Tell is more about the nature of farcical French plays.

We took our time and many intense discussions to ensure that we dug deep into the history of Farce. Interestingly, the word itself stems from the French word meaning ‘stuffing,’ or ‘padding’, and farce has been a source of theatrical comedy entertaining audiences for generations. The first farces were short comic sketches to pad the short breaks in long, often very somber plays – a welcome respite from five hours of serious drama. These farces were usually performances of one act in length but towards the end of the 18th century, any piece that closed a playbill was labeled as farce.

(d) How has such a play – originally set in France in the 1900s- been adapted to suit our audience?

The play’s plot has been retained in its entirety, although the original was set in the early 1900’s this adaptation is set in the later 90’s trying to keep in tune with a more younger audience yet it is till set in Paris. We have reduced the duration of the play to a comfortable 90 minutes which suits our audience here.

(e) What is the rationale behind the name The Frisky Suspenders?

That I would suggest readers to discover when they watch the play. Let’s say the whole plot is initiated and revolves around something as banal as a trivial pair of suspenders.

(f) What was the process of putting the production together like?

We then did a lot of research of Feydeau’s plays – his life, the turmoils he went through and the time at which he wrote this piece. Every member did their bit as a dramaturg to make sure we were all on the same page before we kick off with production work.

(g) How much time did it take to put this play together?

We started reading of the play, analyzing the content and initiating dramaturgical in mid-June. We tried to piece together over 35 rehearsals. BLT, keeping in mind, Bangalore’s hectic life is moving to a great extent to predominantly weekend rehearsals. That way we can try to be more inclusive and ensure people with late evening jobs in the IT corridor can still participate. BLT’s future productions Tell Me the Name of a Flower and Maya Bazaar are also being rehearsed mainly during weekends.

The Frisky Suspenders is being performed at Alliance Francaise, Vasanthnagar, from August 26 to August 28, at 3.30 pm and 7.30 pm. Entry free, on the first come, first served basis.

This article was originally published on The India Times. Reposted with permission. Read the original article.

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This post was written by Divya Shekhar.

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