Playwright Chong Tze Chien takes on epic poem Mahabharata in Kingdoms Apart

Kingdoms Apart tells the famous story in the Mahabharata of the dice game that leads to war. PHOTO: CRISPIAN CHAN
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SINGAPORE – Playwright-director Chong Tze Chien first encountered legendary British theatre-maker Peter Brook’s famed nine-hour take on the Mahabharata as a young theatre student at the National University of Singapore.

“It took me three days to finish watching the five-hour video version,” the 47-year-old recalls. He confesses sheepishly that he skipped through most of it, but adds: “I was flabbergasted by the scale and imagination, and by the ambition of a nine-hour production. How can anyone sit through that?”

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