Welcoming the ambitious theater production “Ramayana” formally opening in Seattle on October 18, Hindus hope that this stage version would stay true to the story and the spirit of their ancient Sanskrit sacred scripture.
Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada today, said that Ramayana was a highly revered scripture of Hinduism. Hindus welcomed attempt of renowned theater group like ACT (A Contemporary Theatre) and others to showcase Ramayana on stage; thus creating awareness about Hindu scriptures, philosophy and concepts; but urge that the final product should be the true depiction of it and not a fantasized or a re-imagined version.
Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, noted that Hindus wholeheartedly welcomed theater and film companies to immerse in Hinduism, but taking it seriously and respectfully, as refashioning of Hinduism concepts and symbols for mercantile greed was likely to hurt the sentiments of devotees. Insensitive handling of faith traditions sometimes resulted in pillaging serious spiritual doctrines and revered symbols.
Rajan Zed pointed out that Ramayana was an integral part of Hinduism and was held in such reverence that Hindus believed that simply reading/hearing of it showered blessings upon the reader/listener. Rama, the hero of Ramayana, was incarnation of Vishnu, and was worshipped by Hindus.
With seasoned and skillful professionals at the helm, we did not expect any problem, Zed said and added that they were just urging for more sensitivity towards faith traditions and careful handling of Hindu concepts and terminology. Zed, however, expressed concern at the mentioning of “re-imagined environments” in the ACT announcement of the play. If ACT or their associates needed any expertise on Hinduism related issues, he or other Hindu scholars would gladly provide the resources, Zed stated.
Ramayana, an ancient Sanskrit scripture that consists of 24,000 stanzas, explores various themes, including human existence, concept of dharma, etc. Hinduism, oldest and third largest religion of the world, has about one billion adherents and moksha (liberation) is its ultimate goal.
According to reports, opening night of the world premiere of three-hour long multi-discipline “Ramayana” will be held on October 18, and it will continue till November 11. Described by ACT as “eye-popping roller coaster”, its production budget was about $500,000, it took two years in scripting and includes a large ensemble. Rama is played by Rafael Untalan, Sita by Khanh Doan, Ravana by John Farrage, Lakshmana by Tim Gouran and Hanuman by Brandon O’Neill in this play directed by Sheila Daniels and Kurt Beattie and adapted-created by Yussef El Guindi and Stephanie Timm. Tickets cost up to $37.50.
Located in downtown Seattle and dating back to 1965, ACT defines itself as: “A Theatre of New Ideas…A cultural engine that makes plays, dance, music, and film”; and believes in the “theatre of the moment”. Kurt Beattie, Gian-Carlo Scandiuzzi and Brian Turner are its Artistic Director, Executive Director and Board Chairman respectively.