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Watch play on Mumbai drag kings, Iranian impromptu production at theatre fest

An impromptu play, another on Mumbai drag kings. This theatre fest has much to offer

art and culture Updated: Oct 08, 2016 08:32 IST
Sanshey Biswas
Sanshey Biswas
Hindustan Times
Agnes of God, from the makers of the Indian adaptation of Vagina Monologues, is about the conflict between science and faith
Agnes of God, from the makers of the Indian adaptation of Vagina Monologues, is about the conflict between science and faith

Imagine a play where the actors change with each performance. The script awaits each day’s cast in a sealed envelope on stage. That’s the first time they read it. There is no rehearsal and there is no director.

This gutsy experiment is the work of Nassim Soleimanpour, an Iranian writer. Since it first hit the stage in 2011, White Rabbit, Red Rabbit, has traveled all over the world with a roster of changing actors. It has been translated into at least 15 languages but its Delhi avatar will be in English. From October 8-16, it will be part of the lineup for the 15th Old World Theatre Festival at India Habitat Centre, Delhi and Epicentre, Gurgaon.

Read:English theatre has a better ground in Mumbai: Nadira Babbar

The theatre festival, how 15 years old, is trying something new in its latest edition. Instead of sticking to what’s safe, this year offers a few bold choices: Barff, written and directed by actor Saurabh Shukla, is a Hindi thriller; The Gentlemen’s Club aka Tape portrays the secret lives of Mumbai’s drag kings. The idea is to put on plays that represent what’s new and fresh in India’s theatre circuit. The more experimental, the better.

But that also makes Vidyun Singh, the director of programmes at Habitat, nervous. As the festival’s curator she’s anxious there won’t be enough of an audience to fill the centre’s auditorium. Her goal was to bring together every kind of play for a diverse programme.

Purva Naresh’s Ladies Sangeet follows the story of a family that gets together for a wedding. And then, the usual drama follows.

“We have something from every genre…to give a 360 degree view,” she said.

Sure enough, the plays range from fresh and novel scripts to edgy experiments. There’s familiar stuff such as Koogu, a solo act by Bengaluru-based Anish Victor, a season theatre director. He has performed Koogu over 100 times. In it, he reflects on the theatre scene in the country and how questioning it has changed his own perspective. Koogu, according to Victor’s team, will be as personal an experience for the audience as it is for the protagonist.

Read:To stage or not to stage: Theatre censorship in India

Then there’s Ladies Sangeet, a conventional drama ensuing from a family gathering. Although it has plenty of wit, it’s not short of substance, said the play’s writer-director, Purva Naresh. Shukla, who started his theatre career in Delhi, is excited to be back here with Barff, a play he has written, directed and starred in. Set in Kashmir, it’s a psychological thriller that follows two men and a woman through a night full of doubt and fear.

Poor-Box Productions will be putting up its first public performance of Agnes of God - a tale of the conflict between science and faith - in Delhi. Coming from the makers of the Indian adaptation of Vagina Monologues, the play will be met with high expectations.

Singh doesn’t want you to watch just one play. So tickets are relatively cheap - they cost a tenth of what they usually do. The festival will also be hosting a theatre workshop October from 6-18 at the India Habitat Centre. Participants can interact with theatre professionals as they discuss technique as well as their personal experiences.

(On till October 16th. At India Habitat Centre, Lodi Road, and Epicentre, Gurgaon. Tickets at www.bookmyshow.com)