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Theatre will never ever lose its relevance: Ray Cooney

Ray Cooney's play Out of Order has been adapted into Hindi as Sweet Suite and will be playing in New Delhi this week
Ray Cooney

Smita Tripathi   |   New Delhi   |   Published 04.10.18, 10:03 AM

Known as the Master of Farce, Ray Cooney is a prolific playwright whose comedies have been performed worldwide and have been translated into more than 40 languages including Chinese, Japanese, Russian and Hindi. One of his biggest hits, Run for Your Wife, written in 1982 ran at the West End in London for 9 years. It was translated into Hindi and over the years has been performed several times in India by different theatre companies.

Now a Delhi-based theatre production company, Dreaming Stage, has adapted another super hit play of Cooney's called Out of Order. The play that was written in 1990 won London's Lawrence Olivier Award for 'Comedy of the Year'.

The play has been adapted into Hindi with distinct characters infused with regional flavours. Theatre actor and director Nikunj Wadhawan has given a local spin to the production which has been rechristened as Sweet Suite. The play is set to make a debut with two pilot shows in October at the Little Theatre Group (LTG) auditorium in New Delhi.

In an email interaction Ray Cooney talks about farces, musicals and how good plays never die. Excerpts:

Do you feel farce is more universal in its appeal and hence is not lost in translation?

I must admit farces are done all over the world-- Russia, Japan, China, Australia, America, Poland, etc. People love to laugh.

Your play Run for Your Wife was translated in Hindi and did very well in India. Why do you think the play worked in India, considering that social mores in India and Britain are very different?

Same reply as above. However, India is the one country in the world where professional theatres don't pay royalties or fees for the rights.

Have you attended any plays in India? What do you think of the quality of production? What advice do you have for theatre producers here?

Not been to India. Only advice is to play the play for real -- don't try to be funny.

What are the contemporary trends in international theatre?

Musicals seem to have taken over. Probably because they can't be done so easily on television.

Do you feel in the age of Netflix, theatre is losing its relevance?

Theatre will never ever lose its relevance. Children play-act from the age of two!

What do you feel about the fact that plays that were written a few decades back in Britain are doing so well in contemporary India?

Good plays never die! Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Neil Simon, Ray Cooney!

Sweet Suite premiers at the Little Theatre Group (LTG), New Delhi on October 5, 2018, 6.30pm onwards.


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