Unique adaptation of Great Expectations by British-Indian playwright premieres in Chicago

Indo-British playwright Tanika Gupta’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, premiered in Chicago May 11. (Photo: www.greatexpectationsplay.org)

Charles Dickens’ famous novel “Great Expectations” adapted by Tanika Gupta, had its U.S. premier in Chicago May 11. It goes on till July 2, and is co-presented by Silk Road Rising and Remy Bumppo Theatre.

It is co-directed by Lavina Jadhwani and Nick Sandys.

Transplanted in Calcutta in a colonial India, this tale of aspiration, intrigue, and romance features  Indian orphan Pip, played by Anand Bhatt, and a cast of multi-ethnic characters.


As the story goes, Pip receives a mysterious inheritance, and he must choose between his humble rural life and the city life of an English “gentleman.” Gupta’s adaptation brings out the clash of cultures, classes, and conscience, to expand Dickens’ question: Is it worth losing who you are for who you might become?

Gupta is a British playwright of Bengali origin.  She adapted Great Expectations for English Touring Theatre’s production in 2011.

Her other recent work for theatre includes Love’N’Stuff (2013), The Empress (RSC 2013), Wah! Wah! Girls (Sadler’s Wells 2012), and Mind Walking (2011; Albany/Bandbazi tour 2013), as well as an adaptation of Meera Syal’s Anita and Me (Stratford East 2015).

She has numerous previous stage plays including Brood (2010), Meet The Mukherjees (Bolton Octagon Theatre 2008), White Boy (National Youth Theatre/Soho 2008), and Sugar Mummies (Royal Court Theatre 2006),  to name very few.

“This new version transports Dickens’ narrative with a specificity and theatricality that is truly exciting-and yet 90% of the dialogue comes directly from the novel,” Remy Bumppo Producing Artistic Director Nick Sandys is quoted saying on the website greatexpectationsplay.org.

“Gupta has adapted this classic with absolute valour and aplomb,” says Silk Road Rising Artistic Director Jamil Khoury. “This is not an attempt to superimpose or meld cultural contexts. Rather, it’s a telling of the Dickens’ story that brilliantly reimagines and recenters it-all while honoring the genius of the 19th century narrative.”

It’s this skillful blend of a Western literary classic with a fresh Bengali perspective that inspired the two Chicago-based companies to pursue Great Expectations as a co-production, the site says. All performances of the 3 hour play will take place at Silk Road Rising. For more information visit www.silkroadrising.com or call (312) 857-1234 ext. 201.



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