Interview: Aditi Brennan Kapil

Photo on 2011-12-11 at 11.24Mixed Blood Theatre opens their season on Oct 5 with a trilogy – a trilogy! – of new plays by Aditi Brennan Kapil, Displaced Hindu Gods.  DHG consists of: Brahmin/i, Shiv and The Chronicles of Kalki.  Ms. Kapil is, as you might well imagine, busy, but HowWasTheShow.com was lucky enough to get an hour of her time one warm morning in mid-September.

HowWasTheShow: Do audiences need to see all three plays?

Aditi Brennan Kapil: Not at all!  The plays are meant to stand alone.  They each have their own directors.  There are a few crossover actors, but basically the casts are distinctive.  Each play is designed to be a separate work.

But: the plays are connected.  They share an energy, exist in a common universe, create a greater dialogue about the immigrant experience, post-colonialism, puberty.  The plays displace the Hindu trinity of Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva into contemporary immigrants in the west.

Brahmin/i is a one person show, stand-up comedy, until it evolves into something else.  It features a terrific performance by New York actor Debargo Sanyal.

Shiv is about destruction/rebirth, the psychological residue of post-colonialism, destroying what came before in order to be reborn. I travelled to India to research Shiv.  It was originally an overwritten novel, but as a play the material has taken on focus.

The Chronicles Of Kalki is my girl-gang thriller, about a girl who may be the final avatar of the life-sustaining Hindu god Vishnu. I used to be a punk, and am a huge fan of comic books, so that all went into this piece.

HWTS: This is unique subject matter.  Tell me how you came to it.

ABK: I’m an immigrant twice over.  My father was Indian, my mother Bulgarian.  I was born in Bulgaria.  Then we emigrated to Sweden where I grew up.  I then emigrated to the U.S. to attend college (Macalester).  I speak Bulgarian, Swedish, English (got rid of my proper British accent when I came to the US). And my Indian heritage worked its way to the surface with these plays I guess.

HWTS: DHG is a trilogy.  I think it’s marvelous that Mixed Blood is making that kind of commitment to you.

ABK: I attribute the number of trilogies being written and produced in America right now to Tarell [McCraney]’s trilogy [seen at Pillsbury House Theatre].  It’s success gave me, and other playwrights, permission to tell larger stories, stories that really push the boundaries of what theater can do.  I think in this multi-media age, of flash mobs and the Internet, there’s a real hunger for the community that forms at every play.

HWTS:  How is Mixed Blood’s “radical hospitality” program working?

ABK:  I don’t know how it’s working from a business perspective, but it has completely transformed the audience.  They’re younger, more diverse – louder – more passionate, more open to new experiences.

HWTS: Perfect for Displaced Hindu Gods.

Displaced Hindu Gods runs Oct 5-27.

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