'"The ocean is very big and a skiff is small and hard to see," the old man said. He noticed how pleasant it was to have someone to talk to instead of speaking only to himself and to the sea.'
I had an amazing experience recently, watching the "Old Man and The Sea" performed on stage by Tom Alter and supported by Sufi dancer Zia Nath.
Tom Alter did all the talking himself as he spent nearly 1.5 hours on stage enacting the famous role of the old man adrift on the sea. Alter' performance was of such intensity that one felt really adrift with Santiago on a skiff checking baits, tackling a marlin, fighting shark attacks, thinking about the day's baseball, DiMaggio and the boy. You knew the old man wouldn't give up especially when he reminisced about an arm wrestling match with a much stronger opponent that went on and on till the pectators almost left for work on the next day. Santiago' fight with the fish was beautifully interspered with such stories as a much adored novel came to life in an amazing fashion.
The play had a Sufi background and Zia Nath provided some beautiful moments of dancing. Her rendition at the end was of awestrucking, speechless quality (how many turns did Zia do - 5000? I asked her but she said she didnt keep count)
The play was by Shivani Tibrewala.
Talking about the play the next day, Alter likened Sachin Tendulkar's spirit to Santiago's!
The play was staged during the Times Literary Festival at Bhubaneswar last week and seeing the crowd and it's rapt attention I wondered why we didnt get more such plays at Bhubaneswar. As I write this veteran Theatre Artist Anant Mahapatra's group "Utkal Rangmanch" is producing Theatre in Motion with some great plays screened at Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. I can only hope Theatre in Motion also travels to Bhubaneswar!