Rushdie's 'Midnight's Children' Launched on Stage
- Rushdie's 'Midnight's Children' Launched on Stage
By Paul Majendie
LONDON (Reuters) - Novelist Salman Rushdie's masterpiece "Midnight's
Children" is given its world stage premiere Wednesday by the Royal
Shakespeare Company -- and now the author would love to turn his hand
"It has been an absolute pleasure -- the greatest experience of my
creative life," Rushdie said after turning his teeming epic into a
three-hour play at London's Barbican Theater.
"This has given me the itch to write more plays," said the author,
who gained instant notoriety in 1989 when Iran's Muslim rulers
sentenced him to death for his book "The Satanic Verses" which they
said had blasphemed the Prophet Muhammad.
Rushdie, who spent almost a decade in hiding before the Iranian
government distanced itself from the decree, reveled in the challenge
of bringing Midnight's Children -- his sweeping tale of India's
birth -- to life on stage.
"It is a highly ambitious production," he told an audience at the
Barbican. "The book has been given a second birth," he said of the
novel which won Britain's prestigious Booker Prize in 1981.
Rushdie originally wrote a five-hour screenplay for a BBC Television
adaptation of the 20th century classic. But first India and then Sri
Lanka, fearful of a backlash after the Iranian decree, withdrew
permission for filming.
The ambitious project lay dormant until the author, who now lives in
New York, was approached by Britain's Royal Shakespeare Company. With
director Tim Supple and dramatist Simon Reade, he shaped and refined
the script into a stage adaptation.
Rushdie, used to the lonely life of a novelist crafting away in
solitude, loved the collaboration, boiling down the saga into a play
for a 20-strong cast of largely British-Asian actors.
"It is a mystery why I have not written plays before," he said of the
tale which chronicles the rumbustious life of Saleem Sinai, born like
the other "Midnight's Children" at the precise moment of India's
independence on August 15, 1947.
The play begins with a five-week run in London and then crosses the
Atlantic for performances in Ann Arbor, Michigan and in New York at
the Apollo Theater in Harlem.
Rushdie, who had to spend so many years in the shadows but now
clearly revels in the theater spotlight, said: "All I can say is that
my natural instincts were more solitary than collaborative.
"In the end I just preferred the idea of sitting alone in a room. But
now that I have done that for 25 years I'm quite enjoying this."
(Additional reporting by Opheera McDoom)
> Rushdie's 'Midnight's Children' Launched on Stage<snip>
> The play begins with a five-week run in London anddates for ann arbor, mi in mid-mar and leeds, gbr in may
> then crosses the
> Atlantic for performances in Ann Arbor, Michigan and
> in New York at
> the Apollo Theater in Harlem.
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