Play built on mythical demon architect

Play built on mythical demon architect

Like many people around the world, playwright-director Hemang Nandabalan Yadav, 35, closely followed the furore surrounding the troubled 2010 Commonwealth Games in India.

A year before the sporting event, the building of infrastructure, such as the swimming venue and flyovers for transport, was very far behind in schedule.

Yadav tells Life!: "So many people had such strong opinions about it, because on the one hand, there was all that talk of India being a new superpower, and then the disappointment when it couldn't live up to that image by creating all the necessary facilities."

Amid allegations of security lapses, corruption, busted budgets, poor infrastructure and living conditions, he remembered a mythical figure he had read about as a child: Maya, a legendary demon architect from Indian mythology who could have fixed these problems.

This was the starting point for his new English-language play, Maya: Demon Architect, which will be staged at the Esplanade Theatre Studio on March 21 and 22.

It is presented as part of the 25th anniversary celebrations of Indian theatre company Ravindran Drama Group, of which Yadav is co-artistic director.

He says: "More than anything, I was very conscious of my own identity as a Singaporean Indian. On the one hand, there's this sense of 'We're all Indians and therefore this concerns all of us', but at the same time, there's an obvious sense of distance because I'm not really Indian, I'm Singaporean.

"It's a national problem that doesn't involve you, but somehow you feel invested in it. I was really fascinated by the globalness of the issue."

Maya: Demon Architect is set in India in October 2009, a year before the Games. Two civil servants seek out the demon in the hope that he might be able to get them out of a construction mess.

The demon tells them how he constructed three magical cities and how these cities were eventually destroyed. The civil servants must then decide if they want Maya to build the Games venues, but risk possible doom in the process.

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