An interview with "Life of Pi" playwright Lolita Chakrabarti
After a cargo ship sinks in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, a sixteen-year-old boy named Pi is left stranded on a lifeboat with four other survivors — a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan and a Royal Bengal tiger named Richard Parker. The animals were being moved from The Pondicherry zoo in India to a new location in Canada. Pi and his family were relocating to escape violent protests, uprisings, and governmental control - and they were taking their animals with them.
Pi’s story was first imagined and written by Yann Martel. Published in 2002, Martel’s novel won that year’s Mann Booker Prize and captivated many readers. A decade later, the riveting story of the unlikely pack of cruise companions was presented again, this time on screen. Ang Lee’s “Life of Pi” film won 4 Academy Awards - including Best Director and Best Cinematography.
Now, Pi and Richard Parker have taken to the stage.
“Life of Pi,” directed by Max Webster with puppetry design by Finn Caldwell and Nick Barnes, won five Olivier Awards for its West End production, including Best New Play. The show opened at The Schoenfeld Theatre on Broadway last night.
Lolita Chakrabarti OBE is an actress and an award-winning playwright. Her’s was the mind challenged with writing “Life of Pi” as a theater piece - and, let me tell you, she delivered.
I sat down with Lolita Chakrabarti in New York city a few weeks ago to talk about the play and the metaphorical and literal journey she’s taking with Pi.