Manhattanville Reid Castle In the Spring

Salman Rushdie’s Haroun and the Sea of Stories Allows Cast to Have Own Experience with Storytelling
Tuesday, 11 October 2011 08:52

Haroun1 210x130In just a few short weeks, the Manhattanville College Department of Dance and Theatre will start its season with an adaptation of the controversial novel, Haroun and the Sea of Stories, by world famous author, member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and Booker prize winner, Salman Rushdie.

The 10-member cast brings the novel to life using a multimedia collage of storytelling, live video, projection and sound design. Actors will play multiple roles ranging from comedy to the hyper-real. The script is influenced by the sensationalism of our media today, as well as reality TV hits such as the Jersey Shore and The Real Housewives series.

The novel was adapted for the stage by Erwin Maas, a New York-based director and teacher of theatre from the Netherlands, who has received numerous fellowships and awards including the Fulbright Fellowship, Netherland-America Foundation, Nuffic Talents Awards, Shubert Fellowship, and the Royal Prince Bernhard Cultural Award. His interest lies in the exploration of the relationship between story, body, space and time. His work endeavors to create a visceral theatrical experience and to offer a contemporary perspective on texts and subject matter so as to enrich the senses, the mind and the soul.

Haroun2 210x130"He (Erwin) used the students to improv certain scenes, such as internet chat rooms, to talk about storytelling in a different way," stage manager Shelby Anderson said. "All this modern age stuff, with our technology, changes the way we tell stories. He wanted to share that and incorporate that into the show."

Anderson explained how the process of creating the script has been organic and a series of improv sessions. The cast would get together and record a session and write out a transcript. Maas would adapt the transcript into a scene and the cast would go back and rework it before adding it to the script.

"ItHaroun3 21x130's helped the show grow immensely, just with the ensemble-building and cast-building," Anderson said. "They are able to work off each other rather than just reading a script and putting that out there. They are also able to put their own creativity out there and work off of each other. That's been a major thing in the ensemble building because this is an ensemble show. There is Haroun, who is the title character, but there really is no main character, everyone works together as a company."

Haroun and the Sea of Stories/It's Your Voice opens Thursday, October 27 at 8 p.m. in the Little Theater in Brownson Hall on the Manhattanville campus. The show runs until October 30. For reservations and more information contact the Department of Dance and Theatre at 914-323-7175.