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Imagination Stage puts Bollywood twist on Twain's tale of switched roles

Alex Paling, who plays The Pauper (left), and Anjna Swaminathan, who plays The Princess, are amazed at their resemblance to each other. COURTESY PHOTO BY LAURA DICURCIOAlex Paling, who plays The Pauper (left), and Anjna Swaminathan, who plays The Princess, are amazed at their resemblance to each other. COURTESY PHOTO BY LAURA DICURCIO  What’s next at Imagination Stage? “The Princess and the Pauper.”

Wait a minute, you say. Don’t you mean “The Prince and the Pauper,” Mark Twain’s beloved novel about two boys, a royal and a commoner, who look so much alike they exchange identities – and learn that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side?

Nope. Imagination Stage’s “free adaptation” of Twain, in the words of artistic director Janet Stanford, features two female heroines.

“It has a feminist twist,” Stanford said.

What’s more, the subtitle of the play is “A Bollywood Story.”

The original story took place in Tudor-era England; in this adaptation, writer Anu Yadav sets the action in a fictional kingdom in 11th-12th century India.

“As such,” said Stanford, who is directing the production, “it contains magic and the interplay of divine forces at work” – something absent from the original novel, which has more swordplay.

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Imagination Stage offers fun for those serious about the arts

Elyon Topolosky has been in the area only about four years, but he’s already performed in four productions at Imagination Stage.

Most recently, he appeared in “Bye, Bye Birdie” in one of the summer camps run by the community arts organization, whose mission is to integrate the arts into the lives of children.

“I love Imagination Stage,” said Topolosky, 13. “It’s not just a month of auditioning, learning your part, and putting on a performance. It’s a whole process – of learning different techniques, like drama, music, makeup, puppetry, dialects, and stage combat.”

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