a4d0c47877274c36f0de58a946f40097-1“Sammy” was a derogatory term used by South Africans to refer to Indians, since many Indian names ended with “swamy.” In the first part of the play Sammy! Gandhi is confronted by an angry mob in Durban that uses the word to jeer at him. He smiles back, hoping that he will one day be able to live up to its true meaning of “Lord” or “Master.” The play portrays Gandhi’s transformation from Mohandas Karamchand to a Mahatma whose words dictated the collective political statement of millions. ……………………………………………………………… The script by Pratap Sharma took 18 years of historical research, and portrays Gandhi’s relationships with Mountbatten, Sarojini Naidu, and Nehru through India’s freedom struggle. ……………………………………………………………………. Sharma, the playwright, and Lilette Dubey, the director, worked together to bring Sammy! to the stage. Their hard work has paid off, with the play completing 50 shows in India and abroad, receiving rave reviews everywhere. Maitri presents Sammy! in Palo Alto to underscore its quest for a world without violence. In La Mirada, Calif., the play is presented by Yadunandan Center for India Studies, CSU Long Beach. …………………………………………………………………. In South Africa, Gandhi fought domination by whites by implementing nonviolent methods of resistance. As he struggled with racism, he turned inward, trying to understand what a moral response would be. This internal dialogue is portrayed in the play, and the same moral compass dictated all his actions as the head of the Congress Party in India. Little-known incidents in Gandhi’s life along with vignettes that bring out his irrepressible sense of humor add layers of complexity to the play. …………………………………………………………….. We have read history textbooks that have a single sentence: “Thousands of students walked out of British-run institutions and dedicated themselves to the freedom movement when Gandhi asked them to.” My grandfather was one among thousands of Indian students who left college to join the freedom movement. In 1930, as the first to attend college in his family, he walked away from his parents’ hopes for him, to join the Salt March in Vedaranyam, Tamil Nadu, following the famous Dandi Salt March. Although my grandparents’ stories about Gandhi helped me form impressions of him in my formative years, he still remains, for the most part, a historical figure defined by old black-and-white documentary film reels, and a crackly voice on vintage AIR specials. ………………………………………………………………… I was pondering this sad truth when I heard from Arun Srivastava, Advisor—Special Projects of Yadunandan Center for India Studies, CSU Long Beach, who said after seeing the play in India, “In spite of knowing Gandhi through history textbooks, and film, a live theatrical experience of the Mahatma in Sammy! is indeed powerful.” Judging from his comment and from other reviews, the play promises to help me and others see a historical figure on the stage, where we can see the transformation of a Sammy into a Swamy as he rewrites a nation’s history. —Nirupama Vaidhyanathan ………………………………………………………………….. Saturday, Nov. 18, 7:30 p.m. La Mirada Theater, 14900 La Mirada Blvd., La Mirada. (562) 985-8785, pperret@csulb.edu, arun.sriv@gmail.com …………………………………………………………………. Sunday, Nov. 19, 7 p.m. Spangenberg Theatre, 780 Arastradero Rd., Palo Alto. $20,$50,$75, $100. (408) 436-8393. tickets@maitri.org. www.maitri.org/sammy.html

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