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"The Ramayana" Premieres At Seattle's ACT Theatre

ACT's "Ramayana"
ACT Photo/Copyright LaRae Lobdell
Cast members from ACT's production of "The Ramayana."

“The Ramayana” is a sacred text for millions of Hindus.  Now Seattle’s ACT Theatre has adapted the epic saga of good and evil for the stage.  Playwrights Yussef El-Guindi and Stephanie Timm used an English translation of the original Sanskrit, and synthesized 24,000 verses into three hours of theater.

"The Ramayana” is a morality tale.  The main character, Prince Rama, must leave on a quest to rescue his beloved wife, Sita.  She’s been kidnapped by the evil Prince Ravana.  Devout Hindus see all the characters as avatars of deities.  For them, “The Ramayana” is not only an epic about good and evil; it is also about what it means to be human.

ACT Artistic Director Kurt Beattie first envisioned this project two years ago.  He didn’t give the playwrights any strict guidelines.  Instead, he hoped they would be able to distill the story’s essence.  “The tale is so vast, that what we thought we would do, is we wouldn’t inhibit ourselves,” he said.  “We wanted to reflect it, but inevitably, reflect it through our Western sensibilities.”

ACT Theatre’s world premiere production of  “The Ramayana” runs through November 11, 2012.