The Absent Lover, winner of 3 major awards at the 2009 Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards, India, is a theatre production about loss and rediscovery, is inspired by a 5th century Indian play (Vikramoorvishyam) by Sanskrit poet-dramatist Kalidasa.
A King (the Earthly king, Pururuvas) has lost his beloved wife (the Celestial nymph-Queen Urvashi) in the forest. It is a wild and stormy night. As the King struggles through the forest, he encounters strange and wonderful manifestations of nature. His ordeal becomes a metaphor, an intense crucible of self-examination. Through pain and longing, he journeys towards redemption and true love.
The Absent Lover is a mythical journey where two unlikely cultures meet (Earthly and Heavenly). In order to understand each other, they have to enter a realm of fantasy, and lose each other, sometimes confused by their own reality, to arrive at a new way of understanding each other. English and French (with Sanskrit as the original source of inspiration) are the chosen cultures of conflict and love placed within an ancient Indian story in modern times. The dynamic play between movement, music (traditional and modern), text (original translation and contemporary) and storytelling amongst these cultures leads to the search of something intimate missing – absent, only to discover a new expression– a fresh perspective – a new culture.
The original script, music, design and direction are all about the missing links in communication within one’s culture. What if I didn’t understand the language or recognize the gestures of a movement? What else can I choose to pay attention to? In very rare circumstances a true sophisticate may understand all language systems – verbal, motion and environment. But the truth is, that there is always something ‘absent’ that we chase as in the production. The elements come from a contemporary aesthetic, yet its roots emerge from the very thread of ancient ritual and vocabulary.
Something familiar has been rendered unfamiliar because we have shifted it.