The Diary of a Madman
Director: Joy Maisnam
Country: India - Bilingual with English sub-titles
“The Diary of a Madman” was read as an ironic attack on traditional Chinese culture, and is seen as a call for New Culture. The character “Madman” who has supposedly been cured of his paranoia, presents his thoughts and understandings of the world around him as entries in his diary. After living in confusion for thirty years, his sudden Lunar Spiritual enlightenment is documented in thirteen fragments of his diary. After an extensive study of confusion culture, his confusion gives way to Paranoia, as he starts seeing the words “Eat People” between the lines. As he discovers his brother’s and mother’s plans for eating him, he simultaneously realizes his unwitting involvement in eating his sister’s flesh. The play ends with the “Madman’s” desperate cry “Save The Children” The Diary of a Madman” exposes the ubiquity of cannibalistic nature of four thousand years of Chinese history and how everyone is an accomplice in the game of eating and being eaten.
The Director’s Note
The play works as an anti-traditional concept, with a first person narrative. In a way it can be seen as a discourse between the “Madman” and the person who is reading his diary. Keeping his “I” narrative style, which proves an effective means of distancing himself and developing perspectives different from what his readers would associate with his public stance, the Diarist us condemning the oppressive nature of Chinese culture as a “Man Eating Society”, where the strong devour the weak. The thirteen fragments, through which the diarist is trying to convey his paranoid regarding the society of which he himself is a part, and the psychological journey of the narrator who is reading the diary, is a connection in the dimension of time, Through the play, I wish to explore this connection between the two people, who share the discourse, not through the words written in the diary, but through the unwritten sentiments and emotions that bring them together.