For those who have bought the key works of Salman Rushdie but never read them, help is at hand. The Royal Shakespeare Company yesterday announced plans for a stage adaptation of Rushdie's Booker Prize-winning novel, Midnight's Children.
The play draws on a screenplay Rushdie prepared in the mid-Nineties for the BBC, which was scrapped at the when the Indian government withdrew permission to film because of the Satanic Verses' furore. The project will involve a cast of 20 mainly British Asians including Nina Wadia and Kulvinder Ghir, best-known for their television appearances in Goodness Gracious Me. Zubin Varla, who has worked with the RSC before, will play the lead, Saleem.
Rushdie has long wanted to bring his book to life, although he harbours ambitions for a film version in which he would act. Midnight's Children is regarded as one of the most important books in the past 25 years. It won the Booker Prize in 1981, was later named the "Booker of Bookers" and has been described as an allegory of modern India.
It focuses on the fates of two children born on the stroke of midnight on 15 August, 1947, the date of India's independence from Britain, and takes the historical events of the first 30 years of independence as its backdrop. Rushdie has been involved in final refinements and embellishments to the adaptation by Simon Reade, the RSC's former literary manager, and Tim Supple, the director who has already proved Rushdie can transfer to the stage with a magical version of Haroun and the Sea of Stories at the National Theatre a couple of years ago.
"I'm delighted that Midnight's Children is to be staged with such commitment by the RSC and to be working again with Tim Supple," Rushdie said yesterday from New York, where he lives. The production will premiere at the Barbican in January next year in the RSC's first visit since it abandoned the centre as its permanent London home in May.
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