Smith Senior Reimagines 'A Doll's House' in Modern Day India

Veronica Brown '17 Assistant News Editor 

The theater department will put on “Koel Black, Mango Sweet” on Nov. 13 and 14 as part of the new playreading series.  Afreen Gandhi ’15 wrote and directed the adaptation of Henrik Ibsen’s play “A Doll’s House.” The play relocates Ibsen’s classic, which takes place in 19th century Norway to modern-day India. Gandhi describes the play as  a “virtual tour of 21st century Mumbai family life.”

The script replaces Ibsen’s Nora and Torvald Helmer with Maha and Ali, “a contemporary Indian-Muslim couple,” who “struggle to redefine the institution of marriage from a male and female perspective…through the lens of Islamic laws and patriarchal culture.” Much like Nora Helmer, the crux of the play lies in Maha’s decision “to regain her personal integrity and dignity,” however, the play’s promotion promises a surprising “21st century ending.” Gandhi chose to write the couple as modern Muslims because of her interest in the religion and “the rights it gives women in the marriage contract.”

The director has been working on writing “Koel Black, Mango Sweet” with her thesis advisor Andrea Hairston for over a year and a half. A theater and film major focusing on directing and playwriting with a South Asia concentration, Gandhi has been very involved in theater during her years at Smith. “Koel Black, Mango Sweet” will be her sixth direction piece at Smith. In 2012, she directed the first South Asaian play, “Family Duty,” which was based on a short story by her mother, author Nighat M. Gandhi.

Although “Koel Black, Mango Sweet” takes place in India, Gandhi emphasizes her pride in the cast, which includes students from not just India, but Pakistan and the United States, on their ability to “set aside their racial identities and ethnicities to step into the shoes of their characters.” She emphasizes that the diversity her play models “what a Smith education is all about.”

A short question and answer section with the audience with follow each performance.