Divesh Subaskaran stars in Life of Pi which will be playing at Wales Millennium Centre from 17– 21 October 2023
Based on Yann Martel’s best-selling novel – winner of the Man Booker Prize, selling over fifteen million copies worldwide – Life of Pi is a breath-taking new theatrical adaptation of an epic journey of endurance and hope. After a cargo ship sinks in the middle of the vast Pacific Ocean, there are five survivors stranded on a single lifeboat – a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, a sixteen- year-old boy and a 450-pound Royal Bengal tiger. Time is against them, nature is harsh, who will survive?
Mike Smith: How did you come to take the role?
Divesh Subaskaran: I auditioned early this year and got notice I had been offered the job a couple of months before rehearsals began.
MS: Has it been as expected?
DS: Not quite sure what I expected if I’m being honest. It’s been a real journey and still is. I have learned a lot from the creatives on the team as well as our cast. I have to say I am so glad I am surrounded by the people I work with as they continue to guide me in the right direction within the role and within myself.
MS: What is special about this being a stage show for people who know the film and of course the book?
DS: It’s live. That’s what’s special about it. People get to see the places, people, and animals that make up this beast of a story. It all unfolds right in front of you. The show with all of its elements is a spectacle and anyone in that shared space becomes part of it. A truly collaborative piece of theatre and an experience of which I’m truly grateful to be a part of.
MS: Did you come to the work with certain preconceptions of how it would work – and have they changed?
DS: I hadn’t the faintest clue how it was going to work! I remember reading the script and thinking how the hell are we going to do this? I was more curious than having any preconceptions really. Working with puppeteers and puppets was unchartered territory for me so I had to and am still learning to find ways to be a better 4th puppeteer and make those relationships clearer. There are different aspects to this production one has to be aware of and I thought the directors were great at making those distinctions and helping us understand how they all fit together.
MS: What do you think audiences will most enjoy?
DS: Watching Richard Parker try and kill Pi on several occasions.
MS: Will anything surprise them do you think?
DS: Well I can’t give that away can I? This play is full of surprises. Trust me.
MS: Do you think knowledge of the book and or film is necessary or helpful?
DS: I personally don’t think it is necessary however I am glad I have been a consumer of all three. They all tell the story in Pi’s perspective however with the play the story is told only days after Pi was found on a beach in Mexico. Lolita Chakrabarti (Pi’s playwright) has captured the essence of the story in such an exciting way using the hospital as a framing device to root the audience in some reality before she shoots us into Pi’s inner world.