Murakami Monologues brings surrealism to the stage – art and culture

I can’t sleep. Not for a second. Aside from that simple fact, I’m perfectly normal.

This impossible thought that came from the sleep of the Japanese writer Haruki Murakami is rooted in his work and its appeal: a simple comparison of the ordinary and the unusual. There was a 30-year-old Japanese housewife who went 17 days without sleep. But the rest of his life, true to his word, seems normal, even mundane. Until you dig deeper. Then their doubts appear – and the surrealism and gloominess that characterises Murakami’s writing.

I love this mix, said Mohit Mukherjee, 27, who adapted three Murakami short stories, including Sleep, for the stage. The result: The Murakami monologue, a trio based on his short stories, will be played this weekend. The performance is also the beginning of the Performance Factory, a theatre group founded by Mukherje and three of his friends – Varun Anand, Devika Raipal and Pranel Wade – who each perform one of the monologues.

Devika Ripal plays a character who hasn't slept in 17 days.

Rehearsals of Murakami’s monologues: Devika Ripal plays a character who hasn’t slept in 17 days.
with friendly permission : Game Factory

Banality meets drama in two other stories: In The Look at a 100% Perfect Girl a beautiful April morning tells the story of a young man who falls in love with a stranger at first sight and is tormented by the way he approaches her. In The Second Attack on the Bakery the newlyweds wake up from a hunger they eat and want to rob a McDonald’s store.

Why Murakami? We are all very big fans of Murakami, says Varun Anand, who can see a 100% perfect girl on a beautiful April morning. Anand and Mukherjee worked together (they performed a play together) and discussed at length the idea of putting Murakami on stage.

Although translated by Murakami, Mukherjee said it was adaptable. These numbers are everywhere, Mukherjee said. She keeps saying she’s okay, but how is she really? He means the storyteller in his dreams. This outward denial does not prevent her from feeling her happiness, her feelings for her husband and son, while staying awake at night.

But how do you show this state of contemplation on stage? I’ve played a lot with the structure, Muherjee said. He adjusted the timing, juggled the lines and even presented the original five-minute scene from the film The 100% Perfect Girl on a beautiful April morning.

The piece is based on Murakami's stories from his 1993 anthology about the disappearance of the elephant.

The piece is based on Murakami’s stories from his 1993 anthology about the disappearance of the elephant.

We had to understand how much we wanted to save and how much text we wanted to use, says Anand.

Murakami stories, usually told in the first person, are a continuous stream of thoughts and can hardly be embodied in action: people’s emotions or their inexplicable and inexplicable beliefs.

Take the second attack on the bakery. How do you show the hunger on stage? asks Anand. Especially if the characters believe that the hunger they feel is actually a curse. Or in her own 100% perfect girl monologue on a beautiful April morning. It’s a picture in someone’s head, Anand said. It’s the idea of total trust. But how are you going to behave?

The actors also improvised – what Mukherjee calls pushing the script. That’s why, according to Anand, they chose Murakami and not a script ready for the stage. As theatre artists, we wanted to be challenged.

What: Monologues Murakami Factory Game
7 p.m., third and fourth. June
Exhibition space, Institut Cervantes, 48, rue Hanuman, place Connot
Nearest underground station:
Rajiv Chowk
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