Auckland Theatre Company and Prayas Theatre will together present a highly anticipated co-production of A Fine Balance at Auckland’s Q Theatre in June. The play, adapted from the famous novel by Rohinton Mistry, tells the monumental saga of ordinary people enduring through extraordinary change in India in the seventies.
Director, Prayas collaborator and creator of the acclaimed production TEA, Ahi Karunaharan, will direct a large ensemble cast of South Asian actors in this beautiful and poignant play.
Karunaharan says, “For me, A Fine Balance is a story about holding onto hope. It reminds me that even the darkest of horrors cannot suffocate the fundamental faculty of the human condition – to laugh in the face of adversity.”
“Through the specificity of India and a past that is distant, we can examine and have those uncomfortable conversations about Aotearoa now. The horror is not that this happened to a people in the time of the past, but that it continues to happen, here and now,” he says.
Based on the novel by Rohinton Mistry, which was nominated for the Man Booker Prize in 1996 and won the 1995 Giller Prize, A Fine Balance is a fascinating story which emerges from the complicated context of India’s post-colonial history.
It is set in Bombay during the turmoil of ‘The Emergency’ - the period from 1975 to 1984 when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi's government tried to “clean up the city” by driving thousands of poor from their homes.
Playwrights Sudha Bhuchar and Kristine Landon-Smith, co-founders of Tamasha Theatre, Britain's leading Asian theatre company, adapted the novel for the stage in 2005. Two sell-out seasons of the play followed at the Hampstead Theatre in London.
Landon-Smith has recently returned to the UK after completing a three year posting as Senior Lecturer in Acting at The National Institute of Dramatic Art (NIDA) in Australia. She joined NIDA in 2013 after more than 22 years as a founding member and Artistic Director of Tamasha Theatre.
With a large cast including Kalyani Nagarajan (TEA, Mrs Krishnan’s Party, The Brokenwood Mysteries), Ravikanth Gurunathan (I am Rachel Chu, For Pastor James, Shortland Street), Rashmi Pilapitiya (Shortland Street, TEA, Only in Aotearoa), Mel Odedra (TEA, The Changeling, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), Mustaq Missouri (TEA, First World Problems, DARA), Mayen Mehta (Bad Seed, TEA, Fresh Eggs), Jatinder Singh (Great American Scream, ASH VS EVIL DEAD, Romeo and Juliet) and Aman Bajaj (DARA, Manpreet’s Spicy Emporium, Meet the Fakas), joined by the award winning Prayas Ensemble, the theatre experience of A Fine Balance will be a moving portrayal of human compassion, spirit and heroism.
Ahi Karunaharan has been making waves in the Auckland theatre scene for a number of years. His premiere season of TEA, which he wrote and directed, sold out at the 2018 Auckland Arts Festival. Prior to that, Karunaharan had been regularly involved with Auckland Theatre Company, including a stint as an intern to Artistic Director Colin McColl in 2016. During this time, he had the opportunity to workshop his plays TEA and Light vs Dark in the company’s literary programme, and directed the youth theatre piece Shoulda Woulda Coulda at Basement Theatre.
Joining Karunaharan on the creative team is Set Designer Micheal McCabe (8 Reasonable Demands, Work Do, Jacinda), Costume Designer Padma Akula (TEA, Dara, First World Problems) and Lighting Designer Tim Williams.
With live percussion and original music from South Asian composers, created especially for this Auckland season of A Fine Balance, Sound Designer Ritesh Vaghela’s sensitive soundscape will accompany and augment the story’s rich emotional journey.
An award-winning NZ-Indian theatre company, Prayas’ past successes include Rudali, Dara, Swabhoomi and Thali. A Fine Balance is a dynamic collaboration in Auckland Theatre Company’s diverse and big-hearted 2019 programme, bringing an astonishing piece of Indian storytelling to life.