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Director Ruth Lawrence on why she green-lit Prajwala Dixit’s ‘Tales of Dwipa’

Some of the cast and crew of “The Tales of Dwipa”, from left: Playwright Prajwala Dixit with her daughter, director and actor Santiago Guzmán, and actors Urmila Palit and Robyn Vivian.
Some of the cast and crew of “The Tales of Dwipa”, from left: Playwright Prajwala Dixit with her daughter, director and actor Santiago Guzmán, and actors Urmila Palit and Robyn Vivian. - Juanita Mercer

‘We’ve got a lot to learn from each other’

Prajwala Dixit’s “The Tales of Dwipa” have entertained families in St. John’s parks for three Saturdays so far this summer.

With just one day of shows left (on Aug. 3) its success has meant there’s already plans underway to put it on a theatre stage.

Its producer, White Rooster Theatre artistic director Ruth Lawrence, told The Telegram why she green-lit the project.

“In the last four of five years, I’ve become increasingly aware of the lack of diversity on our stages and in our stories that we are presenting on them.

So, I made an effort in the last at least three or four years to start developing work that would put diversity on stage as well as behind the scene.”

“Remnants” by Jenna Turk, for example, had a completely diverse cast of four women onstage.

With “Tales of Dwipa”, Lawrence pulled together a completely diverse group – from the writer to those performing and working behind the scenes.Ruth Lawrence.

Dixit’s tales are modernized, localized versions of the stories of Panchatantra which she grew up reading in India. The stories’ themes are familiar to western audiences because they were echoed in Aesop’s Fables.

“It’s been really interesting, I think, for people to see that these are universal stories that just got told in different places in different ways,” said Lawrence.

Ruth Lawrence.

“For example, The Hare and The Lion was about not wanting to change, and the power of change and adapting to a place versus wanting to keep anything that’s different out.

“Very interesting, and incredibly topical when we see what’s happening in the U.S. and other places around the globe.”

While Dixit’s tales were designed to be performed in 10 to 15 minutes in St. John’s parks, she is now bringing them together into one show. She’s contacting theatres to see who might be interested in presenting them on stage in the future.

Lawrence said Dixit’s reimagined stories have “tons of potential”.

“There’s so much we can learn from other cultures, and I think the more globalized the world becomes the more we realize that we’ve got a lot to learn from each other.”

For Dixit, she hopes her plays will help young audiences see that people are more similar than different.

“For the next generation, diversity should be as easy as breathing — it should just be,” said Dixit.

The free, family-friendly plays will be performed on Aug. 3 at Bowring Park at 11 a.m., Kenny’s Pond Park at 1 p.m., and Bannerman Park at 3 p.m.

Twitter: @juanitamercer_

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