Throwing both light and darkness on a crucial moment in world history, the acclaimed Prayas Theatre Company stages a battle for succession that cuts right to the heart of what it means to be devout, with the magnificently ambitious and highly affecting epic DARA, coming to TAPAC from 14 – 24 June.
1659. Mughal India. The imperial court, a place of opulence and excess; music, drugs, eunuchs and harems. Two brothers, whose mother’s death inspired the Taj Mahal, are heirs to this Muslim empire. Now they fight ferociously for succession.
Dara, the crown prince, has the love of the people and of his emperor father - but younger brother Aurangzeb holds a different vision for India’s future. Islam inspires poetry in Dara, puritanical rigour in Aurangzeb. Can Jahanara, their beloved sister, assuage Aurangzeb’s resolve to seize the Peacock Throne and purge the empire?
It’s a story which feels like it’s ripped from the pages of Shakespeare, an episode of Game of Thrones or the stories of Scheherazade; it’s the dispute that played a key role in shaping India and Pakistan as we know it today. Dara does what all great history plays do: entertain, educate and inform us about our past, but also our present.
With a majestic sweep, the play speaks to the real spirit of Islam and the tensions that have always existed between personal religious life and state power. The corruption of religion by those who seek power, individual freedom and conscious all come up for fierce debate.
In a political climate of extremism, Dara is the perfect salve, reclaiming heroes and rectifying the distortions of history. Audiences are able to revel in the more humanistic and more embracing depictions of Islam.