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Maraj returns to first love, the theatre
After a 23-year sojourn in politics, Ralph Maraj has returned to his first love, the theatre. Ironically, his re-entrance to the stage is, in a sense, a kind of deja vu, as the play, The Saint, is the same one which marked his exit at the same venue, 23 years ago.
“I wrote that play in 1983 and I have strengthened it to make it more relevant to today’s society,” Maraj—a former Cabinet minister in both the Patrick Manning PNM and Basdeo Panday UNC administrations—pointed out in an interview.
Political intrigue, camouflaged in a familial setting representative of the society, is what one can expect from The Saint, the role he has designated for himself in the self-directed play.
The essential storyline centres around a rich business family which is declining in its values and the need for a regeneration of sorts.
“In a real sense, the family the play deals with is symbolic of the wider community. The play explores the need for meaning in a materialistic decadent society like T&T,” he explained.
The plot thickens as the eldest son, Vishnu—played by Maraj—makes a decision to give up worldly pursuits and embark on a spiritual journey.
“As a result of that, he generates significant tension and conflict in his family and from that situation, the entire family must evolve to overcome the challenges,” Maraj said.
There are five characters in the play, including Vishnu and his girlfriend Seeta (Beverley Ann Suepaul), whom he abandons to embark on his spiritual journey. Award-winning actor Hubert Ramlal plays the hilarious role of his father Chirkoot Rampersad Maharaj, while Jacqulin Seupaul plays Kowsilia, his mother. The fifth character in this political satire is Vishnu’s brother, Cornelius (Denesh Maharaj).
Maraj, a former Naparima College teacher, who started his career as a student at the college, said he was happy to be back.
“This weekend marks my full return to the theatre after 23 years, which I spent in politics. In fact, this was the last play I did 23 years ago.
“I have embarked on my journey back to my independence and this is my re-engagement with my art, which is a critical part of that journey,” said Maraj, an award-winning actor, writer and director.
“I feel like a liberated spirit, free from all political constraints and enjoying my return to my original self and may I say, I am enjoying it tremendously.”
Maraj has produced over 20 full-length plays, including, The Missing File, Under the Sapodilla Tree, Cynthia Sweetness, The Broken Bridge, Flowers of the Nation, The Archbishop and the Prime Minister.
Maraj, who started writing and directing plays in the mid-70s, has been cast in myriad roles, including those of Shakespearean characters Romeo, Macbeth, Shylock, and Man Better Man.
His achievements also include lead roles in two local movies—The Right and the Wrong and Bim—and hosting three television series—Cross Country, Book Talk and Feedback.
After this weekend’s show, The Saint will be taken to different venues across the country.
Maraj said he is giving serious consideration to updating another political satire, The Archbishop and The Prime Minister, to deal with all the current situations and political shenanigans over the past couple years.
The Saint is set for one show each on March 15 and 16 (8.30 pm) at his old stomping ground, the Naparima Bowl, San Fernando.
Tickets, which cost $125, are available at the Naparima box office daily from 8 am–7 pm.
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