Rupi Kaur’s Bestseller Poetry Turned Into Stage PlayBROOKE McAFEE
In the small theater, a woman cried onstage as she leaned against a stack of blocks. One by one, she toppled each one to the ground with a loud clang, and she performed a poem through the process.
“I was made heavy / half blade and half silk / difficult to forget but / not easy for the mind to follow,” she recited, reading a poem from Rupi Kaur’s book “Milk and Honey.”
Indiana University (“IU”) senior Melanie McNulty directed “Milk and Honey,” a production of Rupi Kaur’s book of poetry. The production took place Friday and Saturday (March 3-4, 2017) in the Lee Norvelle Theatre and Drama Center’s Studio Theatre.
The performance featured a cast of seven women, and it was divided into four parts: “The Hurting,” “The Loving,” “The Breaking” and “The Healing”.
As the ensemble read Rupi’s poems, it performed a series of short scenes to illustrate the words.
Rupi’s bestselling book “Milk and Honey” consists of short poems and illustrations addressing topics like femininity, relationships, abuse, love and heartbreak.
The poems featured in McNulty’s production emphasized themes like self-love and solidarity among women.
In her director’s note, McNulty said she wanted to recreate the visceral response she had to Rupi’s poetry in a stage production. She wanted the audience to understand how she felt when she read the book.
“Through Rupi Kaur’s writing, I relived blissful memories with a smile on my face,” she said. “I unearthed deep-rooted pain, which left me to dry leftover tears I didn’t know still lingered in me.”
Megan Garrett, assistant director at IU Hillel, said she had read some of Rupi’s work before seeing the production, and she enjoyed watching the interpretations of the poetry.
“I thought it was absolutely beautiful,” she said. “It was almost like a dance on stage. I was expecting more like a monologue experience, but it was actually like they created a dance and movement associated with all these emotions and things that Rupi Kaur is expressing.”
The beauty of Rupi’s work is how people can easily relate to her poetry, Garrett said.
“I think we all experience the human experience as love, pain, healing,” she said. “It’s all stuff that you go through.”
Senior Keri Weitzel said she had been excited to see the production because she had read the book “Milk and Honey.”
“I really love ‘Milk and Honey,’ so it was cool to see her vision come to life of what the poems are,” she said.
She said she enjoyed seeing how the production took Rupi’s words off the page.
Weitzel said she enjoyed the last section about healing the most because of its expression of girl power.
Senior Sophia Garofoli was part of the ensemble in “Milk and Honey.” She said she was not familiar with Rupi’s work before working on the show, which was one of the reasons she chose to become involved in the production.
She said the emphasis on self-love is one of the most important messages of Rupi’s poetry and McNulty’s production.
Performing in “Milk and Honey” was an emotional experience for the ensemble and on a personal level, she said.
“It’s definitely very much an ensemble piece,” Garofoli said. “It’s also a way to get to know yourself.”
Senior Ellen Takagi said McNulty’s production expressed vulnerability and was beautifully brought to life.
“It’s insane to me how every single person sitting in this audience can relate to some part of the play in some form or another,” she said. “I thought Melanie did an incredible job at bringing so much rawness of human life to the form of this production.”
[Courtesy: IDS News. Edited for sikhchic.com]
March 8, 2017