Spanning five decades and two continents, Indian Ink is one of Tom Stoppard’s most ambitious plays. Like Arcadia, which Stoppard wrote at about the same time, Indian Ink satirizes the self-importance of aristocracy and academia, celebrates the achievements of intellectuals and artists, explores the costs of expressing sexual drives in a repressed and conservative society, and mourns the ephemeral nature of human life. Indian Ink chronicles the final weeks in the life of fictional English poet Flora Crewe, including her unlikely and intimate friendship with Indian painter Nirad Das. Meanwhile, in the 1980s, Flora’s now-elderly sister Eleanor speaks to two men with vested interests in uncovering what happened to Flora in 1930. As in the final scene of Arcadia, Indian Ink alternates between past and present scenes in quick succession, and sometimes puts them onstage simultaneously. The play is painstakingly researched, and is informed by Stoppard’s encyclopedic knowledge of literary history, his considerable familiarity with Indian culture and tradition, and his personal experiences growing up in India.
Indian Ink guide sections