An English adaption of A Little Calm Before the Storm in Bengaluru
The setting for the German play, A Little Calm Before the Storm, is very simple — three actors and one table. But the play deals with very profound themes. “It is an absurd piece,” explains the director of the English adaptation, Vandana Prabhu, adding, “The three actors sit across the table and discuss
the portrayal of evil on screen and on stage.” The production is by Sandbox Collective and is supported by Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan. It opens this weekend in the city.
The original German play was written by Theresia Walser. In the play, three actors are waiting their turn to appear on a television interview. One is the famous Franz Pächtel, another is Peter Sost, both of whom are well known for their portrayals of Hitler. The third, younger Ulli Lerch, has played Goebbels. Their egos clash and the three actors argue about who played the best role. Through the black humour, we question the absurdity of the narcissistic actors, the Nazis and even theatre as a medium.
Vandana first came across the play through Goethe-Institut’s German Spotlight series where directors are invited to do play readings. “Out of all the scripts that they gave me, this one really struck a chord,” she says. Vandana speculates that one of the characters might be based on the actor who portrayed Hitler in the Oscar nominated German movie, Downfall (2004). The movie created quite a controversy in Germany for its humanistic portrayal of Hitler. The audience was almost sympathising with the character. This is also a major theme discussed in the play — how actors need to get into the skin of evil characters for their jobs.
“Some of the cultural references to composers, music and books were a little hard to understand. But we really didn’t want to change anything at all,” she tells us. For research, Vandana took some help from German interns at Goethe-Institut who helped her get a cultural context. “I am right now trying to get in touch with the original playwright as well,” she signs off.