When writer-director Gowri Ramnarayan first held a reading of her play, Night’s End, the audience applauded the writer-director for stressing on the need to protect tigers, others lauded her for raising her voice against deforestation, and some liked how it captured the plight of the tribal population. But for Ramnarayan, these were just parts of a greater theme.
Produced by JustUs Repertory, a Chennai-based dance company started in 2005, the play has travelled across the world, including the US. “The tiger is at the centre of all things that are happening, but to me it’s a symbol of the most important values — the wonderful things in life that we don’t seem to cherish anymore — the tiger being one of them. It’s about our freedom to create, to think, to express, to agree and to disagree,” she explains.
She informs that the lead character in the play, Krishnan Nair, runs away from home. He takes refuge in a forest working as a security guard. He is seeking an atmosphere that is conducive to creativity, and he finds that in the forest. “Krishnan stresses how we as a society tend to marginalise creativity not just in writing and dancing, but in everything else. There’s a need to create an environment that’s conducive to the arts and to the overall growth of people,” adds Ramnarayan.
She asserts that the turn of events, whether it was the resigning of the Censor Board members as a protest against government intervention, or the changes in the Land Acquisition Act that takes the right to protest away from the people, further emphasises how our freedom is being repeatedly curtailed in the name of development.
(Above and below) Stills from the play, Night’s End
Ramnarayan stresses that the play is a voice against policies that aim to curb our freedom, art or culture. “Our opportunities to resist are shrinking everyday. Anything you say in dissent is completely destroyed. And so, today, it’s even more important that we don’t stop. I want development. I want things like my cellphone, but we also need to be cautious about the things we may destroy in the process including our right to protest,” she reiterates.
The play also explores the issue of marginalisation via the character of a tribal girl, who talks about the situation of tribals and how our policies have made them strangers in their own backyard. “It worries me to see how immune we are becoming towards the marginalised and weaker sections in the society. We are all inter-connected, whether we are a tribal, a tiger or a city dweller, each affects the other,” she reminds us.
On: January 26, 7 pm
At: Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point.
Cost: Rs 200 and Rs 300