San Francisco: Bay Area-based EnActe Arts has announced a virtual adaptation of Letters to a Daughter from Prison, a play by Lavonne Mueller based on the letters between Jawaharlal Nehru and his adolescent daughter Indira, written between 1930 and 1942, before he became India’s first Prime Minister. The original play made its debut in 1988 during the first International Festival of the Arts in New York City before going on to tour India. It has been adapted for this production by Deesh Mariwala (Director),
Set against the backdrop of the freedom struggle and Gandhi’s non-violent protests, the play reveals the richness of the father daughter relationship in the formative years, before her eventual emergence on the world stage, as Indira Gandhi, the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, told through the exchange of letters between them during his numerous imprisonments for his role as a leader of the Indian independence movement while she was growing up. One of which included the prophetic line, ‘Little one, may you grow up into a brave soldier in India’s service!’
The playwright was inspired to write the story because Nehru the statesman was being continually separated from his shy, intellectual daughter Indira due to the turmoil that came with the freeing and building of the world’s largest democracy. “They forged the bonds of a loving, nurturing and formative relationship through their detailed, prolific letters to each other. I felt compelled to write this story because I could not find a parallel in the Western world of a statesman father who nurtured his daughter in such a way.”
Notes the play’s director Deesh Mariwala: “Funnily enough what started as a delving into the lives of two Prime Ministers who shaped the land I grew up in, has become a warm, companionable relationship with two people I have never met, but now feel I know almost intimately.”
Letters to a Daughter from Prison is a co-production of EnActe Arts and Stagesmith Productions.
It is partially sponsored by indiaspora.org and is being co-presented by Indiaspora, ICC (India Community Centre, Silicon Valley) and DIAC (Dallas Indian Arts Collective, Texas).