From a high cliff to a cold lake

Published Monday August 17

Josh Kornbluth speaks of his attempts to adapt award-winning Citizen Josh to the Indian audience. The comic monologue on democracy, which swings from silly to serious, will be performed on Wednesday

Described as being “a pleasure to behold” Citizen Josh makes its Bangalore premiere this week at Ranga Shankara.

Josh Kornbluth is the sole actor in this play about democracy which has been performed only in the US so far.

After a request from the Indian embassy, Josh has adapted his original script to suit the Indian audience. He has spent time researching and reading about Indian culture in an effort to make his play suitable. Describing this experience, he said: “It’s a shock for me to enter any new phase, much like jumping into a cold lake from a high cliff.”

He jokes, “The audience should expect to see a very bald, middle-aged American talking about his attempts to make the world at least a tiny bit better for his little boy.  The man will sometimes say very silly things, and some other times be quite serious”.

Describing the play, he says it is “a comic monologue about one very passive person’s realisation that he must become an activist, so that he can properly participate in his democracy. Starting with his failed attempts to get some equipment fixed in a nearby playground, and leading to a meeting with former vice-president Al Gore, this is a story about how politics pervades virtually every aspect of our lives; it’s also about how we’re all in this mess together.”

Same difference

Josh says, “I hope that audiences in India, despite the cultural differences, will find much to relate to; we are, after all, two former British colonies who broke away and became democracies”.

Arriving in India for the first time last week, Josh says, “I am just beginning to experience Indian society, so I don’t feel qualified to judge how my story relates.  My sense is that Indian society itself is made up marvellously – of so many different cultures, religions and languages, I suspect that people in different Indian cities might relate to my story in different ways.  But even though my tale takes place in a small city in California, my attempts to feel connected to my own government will strike a chord with citizens here.”

Lessons learnt

Speaking about the play from birth to production, he says. “I have learned a great deal about myself in developing this piece including the lesson that even someone as incompetent as myself can have something to contribute to in a democracy!  Also, that if I want to help make the world better for my son, I must participate in important political decisions. As for what I am just beginning to learn from my first encounter with Indian society, I am already struck by the power and resilience of India’s multiculturalism; I believe that the US has much to learn from India about tolerance and inclusiveness.”

After this tour, Josh plans to return to the US where he will continue to shoot Love and Taxes, his second feature film.

He is also planning a tour of the US with his comic monologues. But more importantly, “The thing I’m looking forward to the most is playing with my son”.

Where: Ranga Shankara.
Call: 2659 2777
When: Wednesday August 19, 7.30pm
Run time: 70 minutes.
Wallet factor: Tickets cost Rs 200

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