Sunday, June 23, 2024

Bengaluru theatre: Two women stuck on a spaceship to Mars and a period play set in Bengal

Two women – Madhu and J – start talking when they are stuck in a Mars-bound spaceship. During the conversation, they realise the surprisingly many similarities they share despite the apparent differences. They talk about their relationships with their respective mothers and partners, their dealings with freedom and loss among other things. 

Though Mad & J’s outer-space setting is unusual, the topics it attempts to tackle are relatable. The futuristic backdrop is intentional, according to the play’s writer Vedarun Rajkumar. “Despite all the technological leaps we make, our basic human nature and conflicts will remain the same,” he says.

Mad & J is Vedarun’s observations of the women he’s met all his life. As a man, his lived experiences were vastly different from theirs. “Something that might seem trivial to me will be of great significance to them. So, I have always wanted to write about those things,” he says.

Vedarun was contemplating this matter since the pandemic began. Then, six months ago, a play, which ultimately became Mad & J, took shape in his head. Within a week, it was ready. Vedarun, however, had an important question that he needed to answer himself: Why should he, a man, tell this story?

He sought validation from his partner, Preethi Bharadwaj, a movement, voice, and theatre artist, and Preethi’s long-time friend, Priyanka Chandrashekar, a classical dancer and choreographer. The two women became the two-member cast of the play which has five other characters. Only after several discussions and debates with these two women did Vedarun finalise the script. 

“With any play, I don’t think you can fully stick to the script. There will definitely be improvisations. Having said that, it was also a full-fledged script. It went through many readings, rereadings, discussions and debates. Since Vedarun knows me well, it was pretty much like a first-hand account,” says Preethi.

Priyanka, too, felt the script was relatable. “Most of the things my character speaks and does reminded me of me in the 20s,” she says. 

The 75-minute play will be staged at Shoonya Center for Art and Somatic Practices at 4.15 pm on March 25 and 6.30 pm on 26. Tickets, priced ₹350, are available on bookmyshow.com.

An all-student play

Orpheus Productions, a student-led theatre group from Christ (Deemed to be University) of Bannerghattta Road Campus, will perform the play, Kirdaar, at Jagriti Theatre in Whitefield on March 30, 7.30 pm. 

Set in 20th century West Bengal, the play tells the story of Mukundo, who faces backlash from his father, a respected zamindar, Bijon Kumar, for ruining his reputation in society. However, there is a secret prophecy that Mukundo’s parents know will eventually lead them to societal doom. The play uses folk music and dance, comic relief to elevate the story.

The original production, featuring students, has won a few awards at other college fests like IIT Bombay’s Mood Indigo 2022. This will be the ticketed performance of Kirdaar for the general audience.

Orpheus Productions, established in 2016, have told stories through proscenium, mime, and street play. They have dealt with socially relevant topics like rape, human trafficking and prostitution, the LGBTQIA+ community, virginity, and terrorism.

Tickets, priced ₹300, on bookmyshow.in

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