This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001



A Room in India

Ariane Mnouchkine and Théâtre du Soleil return to Park Ave. Armory with the epic A Room in India

Park Ave. Armory, Wade Thompson Drill Hall
643 Park Ave. at 67th St.
December 5-20, $45-$150

In 2009, Ariane Mnouchkine and Théâtre du Soleil staged the epic Les Éphémères at Park Ave. Armory as part of the Lincoln Center Festival, asking the question “What would you do if the end of the world were imminent?” Mnouchkine and her avant-garde collective now return to the armory with the North American premiere of their latest epic, A Room in India, exploring the question “What is the role of theater and art in a world dominated by terrorism and hostility?” Directed by Mnouchkine with music by Jean-Jacques Lemêtre and Hélène Cixous and featuring a cast of thirty-five actors from around the world, the spectacle, performed in French, English, Tamil, Arabic, Japanese, and Russian (with English supertitles), explores Eastern and Western traditions as a French theater company is stranded in India and chaos descends in the form of contemporary sociopolitical issues. The production is three hours and fifty-five minutes with one intermission; to get in the mood, the armory is offering a preshow Indian meal ($30; must be ordered at least two days in advance), by chef Gaurav Anand of Moti Mahal Delux, that includes Paneer Tikka Masala, Dal Tadka, and Aloo Dum, rice, bread, naan, Indian pastries, and beer, wine, and water. On December 8 at 6:00, Mnouchkine will participate in an artist talk with Tony Kushner and New Yorker editor David Remnick. In a letter about the show, Théâtre du Soleil stirs up curiosity with a playful conversation:

“So, you’re going to put on another play about India?”

“It won’t be about India but rather will take place in India. In a room in India. That’s even the title of the play.”

“Come again? What do you mean? What happens in an India that’s not India?”

“Visions, dreams, nightmares, apparitions, moments of panic, doubts, revelations. Anything and everything that might haunt the actors and technicians of a poor theater troupe desperately in search of resolutely contemporary, political theater, a troupe stranded there by deeply moving events beyond its control, just as they are beyond our control and move us, leaving us looking for a way to face them, a way to suffer through them without resigning ourselves to adding evil to Evil through our words and our deeds.”

“And so what?”

“For now, that’s it, which is already quite a lot.”

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