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UCR Department of Theatre, Film, and Digital Production
OPEN TO ALL UCR STUDENTS -- ALL ETHNICITIES, ALL GENDERS -- REGARDLESS OF MAJOR
RED OLEANDERS by Rabindranath Tagore
Translation/Adaptation by Professor Arnab Banerji
Directed by Reena Dutt
In the imaginary land of Yakshapuri, its people are forced to mine for gold by their tyrant and nobility, who covet their joy. Consumed by the pursuit of wealth, they slowly lose sight of true contentment. This magical tale explores the conflict between good and evil, money and happiness, freedom against oppression, and fear versus love. Written in 1925 by South Asia’s first Nobel Laureate, Indian playwright Rabindranath Tagore, Red Oleanders reminds us of the beautiful and toxic potential that exists simultaneously within the power of human passion.
Note from the director: We are creating a fantastical world that is an extension of our own reality and imaginations. Casting should reflect our world today: racially diverse actors, male and female identifying, trans-identifying, genderfluid and/or non-gender conforming. Although the heart of the story is from South Asia the body of the story is Global and we are reflecting this notion on our stage.
MARCH 11, 2022
Studio Theatre (ARTS 113)
Callbacks: MARCH 12, Saturday 10:00am-2:00pm
Meet the Director (Zoom): Reena Dutt will be holding a “meet the director” session on Monday, March 7th from 6:00-7:00pm in Zoom. This is not required, but you are welcome to come say hello and ask questions about the show. If you want to attend the meet-and-greet please email Courtney Pobst, Stage Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org, for the Zoom link.
Needed: 12 cast members
Actors should prepare:
How to audition:
All roles are open to all ethnicities and all genders. Some actors will be cast as multiple characters.
Kishor Nandini’s good friend and confidant. Kishor has promised to sacrifice themselves for Nandini someday. They are the bringer of daily flowers (red oleanders from a hidden tree), and those flowers bring Nandini much joy.
Nandini A free loving spirit who has embodied all the heartfelt joys of the earth. They live for joy, love, happiness, and most of all, for Ranjan. They do not understand why this mining village is obsessed with money, material objects, and gold. They want the King the release all the villagers that have brought here, so they can reconnect with what’s truly important in life – happiness.
Professor A person of academia. They understand history, philosophy, and text, what’s written in books. The professor understands the greed that world lives in and wants Nandini to escape it. They know Nandini is pure and is fascinated by how pure her heart and mind are.
Gokul A miner. Is curious and terrified of Nandini. Nandini wears a flower Gokul has never seen, and walks with an air of uncaring for the wealth the miners bring. They warn the others of her mystery – the unknown is dangerous!
Behind the Door / The King Bound in a cage of the palace. They only know wealth while their heart wants to know passion. Strives for emotional knowledge from Nandini that they can’t seem to attain out of a fear of vulnerability.
Fagulal A straightforward miner, who through his distaste for work and life has brought alcoholism into his home. Married to Chandra who wants to go home, but continues living a miner’s life in the village because he is fully aware the Chief might rid of him and his wife if they are of no use to the King’s wealth.
Chandra A woman who is weary of anyone who walks off the beaten path. Doesn’t trust Nandini because she is free with life and doesn’t have the same ambitions of wealth and fitting in to society. Looks up to those in power, and wants to please them. Married to Fagulal.
Bishu A worker and friend of Nandini. Their gift to her is in their music. Sees the folks in power as they are – slightly abusive and their intentions are not sound. Their wife left them to climb the social status ladder. Offered a position as a spy on their own community and refused the position due to their integrity to care for their own. Would love to escape the mining town and despises anyone trying to keep them hostage.
Chief Does not trust Bishu, Nandini, nor Ranjan. Does everything they can to keep Nandini away from Ranjan, and keep all the miners oppressed. Willing to lie to the King to get what they think is best for their pockets and greed. Gold is everything.
Gosain A holy person of the scripture. Uses religion to calm the soul, defeat heated passion of independence, so the miners can stay focused on collecting wealth for the kingdom. The Chief has summoned the Gosain to teach scripture to the miners to keep them in order and controlled.
Morol The village head. Morol has plotted with the Chief to keep Ranjan away from Nandini and the rest of the village by putting Ranjan to work in the tunnels.
Junior Chief The least senior leadership in the community, sent to arrest Ranjon. They are willing to do the dirty work for the Chiefs and leaders who abuse power, because the Junior Chief is against wrongful accusations when it comes to Ranjon and Nandini.
Puranbagish The King has become bored with the professor’s teaching so Professor brings in Puranbagish to teach the ancient tales of the Puranas. They have deep respect for the history that has created the present.
Wrestler/Gojju Once a passionate person, who enjoyed fighting, now a spent person who refuses to fight. When they refuse to do what the Chief wants them to do, the Chief blames them for the downfall of the team.
Doctor They diagnose the King with an ailment of the heart, but implies that unless the King finds another conflict to enjoy, the King will become self-destructive. This lights a fire for the Chief to find a conflict that will distract the King, but not destroy the wealth of the kingdom.
Mid-Rank Chief Humored by Ranjon and realizes the Chiefs have begun to take life too seriously. Instead, they refuse to hurt Ranjon. They are enamored by Ranjon’s humor and ease with life.
About the play:
Red Oleanders (first published in 1926), a play that has been translated By Professor Arnab Banerji for the purposes of production at UC Riverside, explores a town in a materialism-crisis. Yakshapuri has been put on the map because of the gold beneath its earth, and the greed of a King that has taken over its community members to feed into his own wealth through goldmining. Unbeknownst to the King, the joy he truly seeks cannot be found in wealth, and he instinctually realizes this upon meeting Nandini.
Nandini, a girl who recognizes no social barriers and taboos and who disregards them in order to maintain her joy, has been unwillingly separated from her love, Ranjon. The King, curious about wherefrom her unending joy comes, brings her to the town to pry her knowledge out of her, questionably falling in love with her free spirit in the process.
Nandini brings out the best in human nature, and those she is closest with, do the same. She and her closest friends share their true selves with others to scrutiny and penalty, but cannot live any other way. They slowly but surely influence a select few to see what life can truly offer, without the cost of riches.
The red oleander, Nandini’s favorite flower which she wears every day, can be interpreted as frailty or courage. It’s up to each individual in the village to decipher which it represents to them, as she risks her life to live for what is most important to herself and humanity.
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