The play is an ironic, sci-fi examination
of the relations between developing and developed countries. Set in the
imminent future "Harvest" imagines a grisly pact between the
first and third worlds, in which desperate people can sell their body
parts to wealthy clients in return for food, water, shelter and riches
for themselves and their families. As such, it is a play about how the
"first" world cannibalizes the "third" world to fulfill
its own desires.
The story, centers on Om, who signs up to be an organ donor for an American
woman named Ginni because there are no other jobs available for him in
Mumbai. Ginni pays him to lead a "clean" and "healthy"
life so she can harvest healthy organs whenever she needs them. Ginni
begins to control every aspect of Om's life, from when and what he eats
to whom he sees and how he uses the bathroom. In fact, Ginni comes to
control the entire family until the end of the play, when Om's diseased
brother, Jeetu, is taken to give organs instead of Om, and the recipient,
Ginni, turns out to not be what she initially seemed. In a final act of
defiance, the seeds of rebellion flower in a "checkmate" ploy
by Om's wife, Jaya.
The author's vision of a post-apocalypse future is dark, but told with
rich irony and humor. Themes of globalization abound. Director Benjamin
Mosse says, "We are struck more and more by the loss of individualism
because branding is becoming so universal. The first and third worlds
are no longer geopolitical places, but economic zones. Om sells his body
to the face of a corporation, which is indifferent to the fact that he
is American or Indian."
"Harvest" won the Onassis Award for best new international
play in 1997. It was selected out of 1,460 entries from 76 countries.
It has been produced in Athens, Delhi, Swarthmore College and UC Berkeley.
This is its New York professional premiere.
Playwright Manjula Padmanabhan is a Delhi-based writer and artist.
Being both a cartoonist and socially-conscious playwright, she invites
comparison with America's Jules Feiffer. Her books include "Hot
Death, Cold Soup," a collection of short stories; "Getting
a travel-memoir; "This is Suki!", a collection of her New Delhi
strip SUKI; "Hidden Fires," a collection of five dramatic
monologues; and "Kleptomania," a second collection of short
stories. Her comic strips appeared weekly in the Sunday Observer (Bombay,
1982-86) and daily in the Pioneer (New Delhi, 1991-97). Padmanabhan
has illustrated twenty-four books for children including her own two
novels for children,
"Mouse Attack" and "Mouse Invaders. Her most recent book
is "Double Talk", a collection of the Bombay strip by the
same name. For an online show of her prints, click to http://www.anothersubcontinent.com/manjula1.html.
An article on Ms. Padmanabhan's cartoons, with excerpts from her collection,
"Double Talk," is online at www.nytheatre-wire.com
The actors are Zina Anaplioti, Diksha
Basu, Sam Chase, Rupak
Ginn, Naheed Khan, Christianna
Nelson, Debargo Sanyal and Jeffrey
Wither. Video is by Matt Bockelman.
Set Design is by Lee Savage. Lighting Design
is by Scott Bolman. Costume Design is by Chloe
Chapin. Assistant Director is Sarah Curtis.
Dramaturgy is by Christine Mok.
East Coast Artists was founded by Artistic Director Richard Schechner
in 1991. ECA's mission is fourfold:
* To develop theatrical productions and performance events that radically
reconfigure the classics, that generate original theatrical works, and
that call attention to specific aspects of life as performance, and thus
amenable to intervention and change;
* to educate, mentor, and train theatre artists and others via ECA's synthesized
theories of performance and transcultural techniques of performer training;
* to conduct and collaborate on interdisciplinary research on emotion
and other performance-related topics;
* to facilitate intercultural and international exchange in all aspects
of ECA's activities in production, training, outreach, and research.
To date ECA has produced six full-length productions, five directed
by Richard Schechner ("Three Sisters," "Faust/Gastronome,"
"Hamlet," Waiting for Godot" and "YokastaS")
and one directed by Maria Vail, Kafka's "Amerika." The Western
hemisphere premiere of "Harvest" directed by Erin B. Mee will
be the company's seventh full-length production.
East Coast Artists' first production at La MaMa, "Faust/Gastronome"
(La MaMa, 1993) made the old alchemist a chef and was praised as "simultaneously
adventurous and self-important, fiery and prodigal, sensuous and indulgent,
quick witted and facile" (Marc Robinson, Village Voice). About the
company's next production, "AmeriKa" (La MaMa, 1994), directed
by Maria Vail Guevara, the Voice's Randy Gener wrote, "East Coast
Artists has a penchant for 'thEATer.' The embedded caps attest to how
the troupe chews on…the American Dream. 'Faust/Gastronome' cooked
up the Faust myth as capitalism gone voraciously sick. Here, Kafka is
chomped." When "Faust…" toured England, the London
Guardian (Claire Armistead) wrote, "these people aren't just oddball
iconoclasts--they are seriously talented actors and singers who are using
their skills and cooking utensils for a feast of eye and mind."
East Coast Artists followed this production with two versions of Chekhov's
"Three Sisters" at La MaMa in 1995 and 1997. As in the Yokasta
story, "Three Sisters" had the characters moving through time:
using a new (and faithful) translation by Michele Minnick, it had its
first act in pre-revolutionary Russia, the second in post-revolutionary
Russia, the third in a gulag of the 1950's and the fourth in the here-and-now
of the theater. The idea was to test the play as drama, physical theater,
farce and soap opera by moving it through the century, with the consciousnesses
of Stanislavsky, Meyerhold and Stalin all hovering over the stage. East
Coast Artists' last production at La MaMa was "YokastaS" by
Schechner and Saviana Stanescu in 2003 and 2005.
Director Benjamin Mosse is currently an Associate
Artistic Director of East Coast Artists. He has directed over 30 plays
across the country, most recently Erick Herrscher’s "F***ing
Ibsen Takes Time" at the Soho Playhouse. He has served as Artistic
Director of Yale Cabaret and was founding Artistic Director of the non-profit
IF Theatre Collective in Cincinnati. He was Assistant Director to Richard
Schechner on "YokastaS Redux," David Esbjornson on "Much
Ado About Nothing" at NYSF, Doug Hughes on "Flesh and Blood
" at NY Theatre Workshop, Mark Lamos on "Taming of the Shrew"
at Yale Rep, Michael Wilson on "Long Day's Journey into Night"
at Hartford Stage, David Esbjornson on "Summer and Smoke" at
The Guthrie, and John Tillinger on "Loot" at WTF. He holds an
BSS from Northwestern University, an MA in Performance Studies from NYU
and an MFA in directing from Yale School of Drama.
Mr. Mosse has written, "'Harvest' quite devastatingly illustrates
for me the destruction of not only the proverbial old world, but also
the psychological axioms of nation, culture, tradition and self. With
our conquest by globalization, the postmodern economic colonial project
is magnified globally, since the click of a button can alter events on
the other side of the world instantaneously. Technology radically re-determines
time and space, and the political ramifications are horrifying. A frightening
byproduct of economic aggrandizement is the replacement of the tangible
human individual with the notional corporation, which has, in law and
society, become the surrogate of the individual. That, in the play, is