Battle cry: Ajit Chitturi presents Vithal Rajan’s The Spartan Conspiracy
Trust Ajit Chitturi to forge an unlikely connection between Homer’s Iliad and the war between Iraq and the USA. The city-based theatre artiste’s play, The Spartan Conspiracy, is inspired by the Greek poem, and is a satire that is based on events that transpired during the Trojan War (where Sparta declared war on Troy, after the latter exercised their superiority over trade routes to hike the price of oil). “The play is a direct take (albeit humorous) on the flimsy reasons that America had cited before the invasion of Iraq for the control of the crude oil resources that lie in Iraq,” says Ajit, who founded the theatre group Thespian En. It was originally written by noted playwright Vithal Rajan, many of whose plays have been adapted by Ajit and his team, such as Wolfgang.
Talking about how The Spartan Conspiracy came about, he says, “In 2016, The Lawrence School, Lovedale had called me to direct their annual play on the occasion of their Founder’s Day. They wanted to stage something humorous and my thoughts went to The Spartan Conspiracy. Thereafter, the play was staged at The Gatsby Village in Chennai, and later, at the Akshara Theatre in New Delhi.” Ajit further reveals that they will soon stage an adaptation of Vithal Rajan’s play on Sherlock Holmes, Holmes of the Raj.
Set in the era of Homer’s Iliad (from where the costumes for the play are also inspired), one must wonder how The Spartan Conspiracy is relevant in today’s times. Ajit reaassures, saying, “All of Vithal Rajan’s writings have some kind of historical relevance infused into contemporary times, therefore, the need to adapt his plays to the present does not arise.” He, however, points out that the dialogues are humorous and contemporary. “Vithal Rajan’s humour does not necessitate any change. The script is both concise and specific to the original plot,” Ajit says.
The cast of the play has a couple of debutantes besides some familiar faces from the city’s theatre scene. “Bhavya Jessani and Khushii Advani, both students, make their debut on the Chennai stage in the roles of Princesses Electra and Iphigenia,” he says, adding, “The roles of King Menelaus and Achilles are played by Thespian En veterans, Sethu Darwin and Rathnakumar, respectively.” Also, Queen Helen is played by Ashwani Mohanlal and Queen Clytemnestra by bharatanatyam dancer and trainer Priyanka Raghuraman. Meanwhile, Ajit plays King Agememnon and Vikram Dhanasekar will be seen as a palace servant, who has a crucial role to play. Having conducted rehearsals for a couple of months, during which time they also contemplated the idea of starting the play with a Greek dance performance by school girls, Ajit is also planning to take the play to Coimbatore, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
At Alliance Francaise. March 4. 7.15 pm onwards. Tickets: Rs. 200.