Profiling a playwright

Sunil Kuruvilla lives a double life. To
the Laurier community, he is known
as an English graduate turned marketing
and promotions co-ordinator for
the faculty of music.

In the theatre world, he is a celebrated
playwright whose award-winning
plays have been produced across
North America.

For Kuruvilla, writing plays is what
characterizes his identity.

“It’s my primary profession,” he
stated. “When I go to sleep at night
I’m thinking about plays, not other
things,” he continued.

His most recent stage is the prestigious
Stratford Shakespeare Fe stival,
at which his play Rice Boy opened on
Aug. 22.

Rice Boy tells the story of an East Indian-
Canadian father and son who are
stricken by loss.

Years after his wife’s tragic death
from drowning, the father chooses to
bring his son – who has been unruly
and lacking discipline – back to India.
His son then falls in love with his
cousin, whose fate is also tragic.

“Suddenly father and son are in the
same situation grieving,” explained
Kuruvilla.

The story is one of both individuals’
personal experiences with grief
and their connection throughout the
ordeal.

While the background of the main
characters and the situation of much
of the story in Kuruvilla’s residence
of Waterloo, bear a striking resemblance
to his life, he stresses that
the plotline of Rice Boy is not wholly
autobiographical.

“The folkloric elements of the story
are definitely autobiographical,” said
Kuruvilla, explaining that they are derived
from his personal experiences
from trips to India.

While the theme of loss is not based
on his life directly, Kuruvilla believes
that it is a universal theme.

“I think I’m just like everybody else.
I’ve loved people who have gone away
through death or just natural erosion,”
he explained.

While Kuruvilla enjoyed seeing Rice
Boy come to fruition, he admits that he
enjoys reading plays much more than
watching them.

“I’m not a theatre guy. I don’t really
get turned on by going to a play,” he
laughed.

“I love reading plays and I love
working on a play with good actors,
but it’s all really more about a script.”

Kuruvilla said that he is often found
furiously fixing his script or looking
for the audience’s reaction instead of
watching the play intently.

Ever since he graduated from Laurier,
writing has been Kuruvilla’s true
passion.

While doing his undergrad, Kuruvilla
felt his creative style of writing
was out of place; but discovered his
niche when he attended the University
of Windsor for a Masters in English,
during which he was taught by Allister
MacLeod, Canadian author of No Great
Mischief.

“Writing plays is a compulsion,” he
explained, adding that the dwindling
popularity of theatre does not faze
him.

“The audiences may be small, but
there will always be people who will
listen.”

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