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Arranged Marriage at Sacramento Theatre Company

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Mother & Daughter, left: Katherine C. Miller right: Roshni Shaukla, photo courtesy of Maria Christie Photography, mariachristie.com

Arranged Marriage is a play based on a short story by Chitra Banerjee Tagore. It has been adapted for the stage and is directed by Peggy Shannon. This Sacramento Theatre Company production incorporates poetry by Rabindranath Tagore, a major figure in Indian literature. Dance choreography by Tyler Russell Warren is also integral to telling the story.

The main character, Sumita Sin, is excited about the prospect of marrying the husband chosen for her. She fantasizes about her future life in California with the man she has never seen. She is confident she will win over his family and be chosen as his bride. Sumita never questions this process. She has been raised in a fully traditional Indian family. She knows her role in life, as do all of her friends. Sumita remains true to these traditions until her exposure to Western society and a shocking event force her to examine what these traditions mean to her. She must decide whether to remain in America and create a new life for herself or return to India to live with her in-laws.

The story is told from womens’ points of view. That is of the bride, the mother and the Hindu goddess Parvati. The audience is given a view into modern society in India that still holds to centuries-old traditions. The poetry of Tagore gives voice to god and goddess Shiva and Parvati to express the Hindu beliefs about how destiny plays a role in individuals’ lives. Tyler Russell Warren has blended classical Indian, Bollywood and American dance in his excellent choreography. The dance is a part of telling the story while entertaining the audience.

Roshni Shukla is great as Sumita. The role requires an actor who is versatile and facile with words. Shukla shines in the role. Both she and Tyler Warren are graduates of STC’s Young Professionals Conservatory. All the ensemble actors/dancers are current Young Professional Conservatory members. This is another STC production that shows what a great program the Young Professional Conservatory is.

Weaving together the story, the poetry and dance, Shannon and company have created a production that is enlightening and thought-provoking while remaining very entertaining.

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