Meet Siddhartha Rajan

February 1, 2017
Stories

Siddhartha Rajan is an actor in "A Disappearing Number" by Complicite at TimeLine Theatre running until April 9, 2017. This is an exquisite, internationally acclaimed play about love, math, and how the past and future connect. "A Disappearing Number " is a love letter to numbers, blending the beauty of everyday relationships with the mysticism of the cosmos. Winner of the 2007 Critics’ Circle Theatre, Evening Standard, and Laurence Olivier awards for Best New Play, TimeLine’s production of A Disappearing Number is a new and rare staging of this mesmerizing play that the Chicago Tribune raved “explodes with so much intellectual stimulus it makes you giddy, thrilled, intoxicated, ready to talk.” 

Siddhartha is a recent graduate of Roosevelt University making his TimeLine Theatre debut. Meet Siddhartha as he answers, "What's Your Story?".

What's your personal story?
My name is Siddhartha Ramanujam Rajan. I am originally from Huntley, Illinois. When I was 9 years old I very fortunately was cast in "The Wizard of Oz" as a munchkin, oddly enough that small role led me to realizing theatre was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. When I was fifteen my parents sent me to an arts boarding school where I really got to dive into the career I would learn to love so much. Since then it was an uphill struggle but I wouldn't take back a single moment. Today, looking back, it really is amazing to think I am able to work with such marvelous artists at Timeline Theatre. 

What's your character's story in "A Disappearing Number”?
Ramanujan's story in "A Disappearing Number" is about being the other. Although he was a genius he was still heavily alienated due to his heritage and religion. His religion is also the reason for his sickness and inevitably his death. In the play he is an ethereal being who lives in all times at once while simultaneously only existing in one. It is because of this that Ramanujan's story in the show isn't just his own, but shared in the parallels that represent all of our lives, forever interconnected.

What challenges does your character face telling this story?
Ramanujan has many challenges throughout the show, such as finding a way to get to England when his mother has strictly forbidden him, or searching for a collaborator who understands math as well as he when the next best mathematician in India can't even understand his work. His greatest challenge is the extreme isolation he deals with once arriving in Cambridge. Being a Brahman means that you have reached the upper echelon of humanity, that considered he refused to change his diet or his way of life. Englishmen found this to be ridiculous and strange, which led to him having very few friends. The last and greatest challenge he deals with is the illness which eventually consumes him.

How does your character overcome those challenges?
Ramanujan is able to overcome his simpler challenges such as leaving India through pure luck or what some may call fate. His mother allows him to go to Cambridge after she has a vision of him in Temple. Meeting G.H.  Hardy finally gave him the creative outlet he needed. Even the isolation he is able to overcome with time due to the level of respect his colleagues had for his work. His illness, on the other hand, gets the best of him and of course leads to his untimely death.

Any other comments?
This story is one that is not easy to put into words. Ramanujan's life may seem very tragic, however I can't imagine he would have wanted it any other way. As a Brahman he was fatalistic and would have accepted this as his destiny. As Ruth says in the show "Ramanujan's legacy is his work."

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Mia Park
Mia Park shares her passion of discovery through teaching yoga and acting. Currently studying acupuncture and Chinese medicine, Mia is also a producer, writer, motivator, and celebrator of life. Mia has lived in Chicago for over twenty years and calls this city that works her home.

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Free tickets can be reserved on October 27, 2017 at noon at the box office, by calling 773-325-7900, or emailing theatreboxoffice@depaul.edu. Press Opening is Wednesday, November 8, 2017 at 7:30 PM. **Preview is Tuesday, November 7, 2017 at 7:30 PM. The House of Bernarda Alba will be performed in Room 403 of The Theatre School at DePaul University at 2350 N Racine Ave, Chicago, IL 60614 What's your personal story? I grew up in Tucson, Arizona as one of very few Chinese Americans in my neighborhood. I remember that my sister and I were the only Chinese kids in my whole elementary school. However, my family attended a Chinese church in downtown Tucson, and I also attended Tucson Chinese School where I learned to read and write Mandarin Chinese. I’m very thankful for the persistence that my parents had to have my sister and me grow up learning Chinese and holding on to our ethnic culture. However, growing up, I felt like I was never fully Chinese nor fully American. I didn’t feel the need to blend in with the other kids, but I also desired to connect better with others. An opportunity came up in kindergarten when the entire grade put on a show for the whole school. This was the first time that I felt like I was part of a team, part of a larger group effort to create something fun and beautiful. I remember that year, our production was called ‘To the Future and Beyond,’ and I sang the final solo of the show. In middle school and high school, I continued to take drama classes whenever possible. I loved learning about the lives of people so different from me, memorizing my lines, and sharing those stories with audiences. In college at Duke University, I decided to major in Psychology and Theater Studies, and also performed in three of the Theater Department’s Mainstage shows. Currently, I’m in my second year of my MFA in Acting program at The Theatre School at DePaul University. What's your character's story in "The House of Bernarda Alba”? My character’s name is Angustias, which means anguish or distress. She is the eldest unmarried daughter of Bernarda Alba and is already 39. Angustias is the sole daughter of Bernarda Alba’s former husband, while the rest of her sisters are the daughters of Antonio Maria Benavides, the man they are all mourning at the top of the show. Angustias’ father was rich, so when Antonio Maria Benavides dies and the property must be divided, Angustias’ share of the estate is much larger than that of her sisters. This wealth that Angustias has is then attractive to Pepe, who is trying to marry her, and while Angustias truly believes that he loves her for her, she really just wants to be loved and free from the oppression and alienation she feels within the walls of Bernarda’s house. What challenges does your character face telling this story? Angustias is constantly struggling with the antagonistic energy she receives from her sisters. No matter what she does, her sisters find some way to make her feel even more alienated and separate from the group. No one really gives her a chance to share more about herself. Angustias is always defending herself, but somehow it always comes off as offensive towards her sisters. She doesn’t feel understood. She wants her mother’s approval, but also doesn’t feel fully understood by her either. Angustias has a hard time in this story, because she doesn’t feel like anyone is on her side. How does the character overcome those challenges? Angustias changes throughout the play—I won’t give away too much, but in some ways, Angustias is redeemed from all of her bitterness at the end of the play when her sisters discover how they have wronged her. While Angustias behaved more out of spite at the top of the show, she begins to genuinely ask for help, advice, and empathy at the end of the play. Angustias overcomes her challenges of alienation towards the end of the play when she risks being judged by her mother and sisters by being more vulnerable, and seeking to find the truth, even if she gets hurt in the end. Any other comments? I hope that this play helps audience members to be thankful for the people in life who love them, to hold them close, and to try to understand each other instead of being blinded by individual desires. Why not work together? Why not be a team and create something beautiful? Life is too short not to make the most of it every day. Thank you so much for your time!
Mia Park
11/13/2017