Once upon a time… might be the ideal beginning for tales that have ruled over Delhi’s theatre circles for long now. The present generation of theatre artists, however, doesn’t feel content when it comes to staging linear narratives. The performances that they conceive, therefore, question and provoke.
The 15th edition of Old World Theatre Festival has 10 plays that not just entertain the audience but also ignite a debate around the topics they explore, such as gender, and stereotyping. “The plays that we have selected this year arouse a certain kind of questions,” says Vidyun Singh, director programmes, Habitat World.
One of the plays, Gentlemen’s Club AKA Tape uses dance, music and projection, to weave a provocative tale of women. Alongside, there’s also the play Tees, by Jaya Sharma which follows the story of a farming family collapsing due to noxious ecosystem. Another play Ladies Sangeet explores a debate on gender stereotyping, through the hilarious situations arising at a house where preparations for a sangeet ceremony for wedding are in full swing.
The organisers say that they finalised the line-up considering the younger generation of theatre practitioners is able to create performances on our reality. “The young voices want to be part of ‘not-safe plays’. In the sense that they don’t necessarily have popular faces as actors or linear narratives that can pull the crowd. Instead, there is conviction to create what they are passionate about,” Singh adds.
Take for instance, the play Gentlemen’s Club AKA Tape. Its director Sheena Khalid says, “It was during a workshop that we made women dress as men and the concept of drag queens triggered me to work on a play on this subject. The performance is a celebration of gender and not masculinity or feminity in particular.”
The opening play of the festival is Ramayana, which will be brought alive by Jalabala Vaidya and Akshara Theatre, as a tribute to doyen Gopal Sharman, who passed away earlier this year.
This thriller by actor Saurabh Shukla is set in Kashmir’s winter. It narrates the story of desperate parents of an ailing child and an unsuspecting doctor. Questions of truth, reality and belief are faced by the actors in this production. When: Epicentre on Oct 8 and IHC on Oct 9
2. Wild Track
Directed by Arghya Lahiri, this play on the story of a man and woman’s companionship explores a relationship that has to be secretive, because it’s precious. The day the man starts losing his memory, there’s also the loss of shared language.
Where: IHC on October 11 and 12
Koogu, the Kannada word for call or shout, is a solo performance comprising a series of vignettes based on real events. These include references to a grandmother who considered dancing cheap, memories of a church choir, an attempt to run the marathon – all examined in the light of larger ideas of freedom, culture and tradition.
Where: IHC on Oct 11and 12
4. White Rabbit, Red Rabbit
This play by Nassim Soleimanpour dissects the experience of a whole generation. Forbidden to travel, the protagonist turns his isolation to his own advantage with a play that requires no director, no set, and a different actor for every performance.
Where: Epicenter on Oct 15 and IHC on Oct 16
CATCH IT LIVE
What: Old World Theatre Festival 2016
Where: India Habitat Centre and Epicentre, Gurgaon
When: October 8 to 16
Nearest Metro Station: Jor Bagh and Huda City Centre on Yellow Line