Create borders on stage
Inspired by the Shouting Valley in Israel, Hard Places, which will be staged at the ongoing Prithvi Festival, explores what happens when families are shattered by the imposition of a border
Farhad Sorabjee’s English play, Hard Places, although not tied to any time or place, takes inspiration from The Shouting Valley, a hill in the Israeli controlled portion of the Golan Heights, where families from Israel and Syria used to come from both sides of the border to see and talk (actually shout) to their relatives on the other side.
The Indo-UK production, starring Jasmina Daniel, Shernaz Patel and Nabil Stuart, will take centrestage at the Prithvi Festival. “This is the India premiere of this particular production of Hard Places. It was originally performed as part of the Writers’ Bloc Festival in 2004. This production opened at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester, UK in September this year, where we did a run of 14 performances,” says Patel.
The story revolves around Aziz and Saira, who plot to rescue their mother from the far side of the border. Forced to use a megaphone to speak to her across no man’s land, they invent codes to trick the soldiers who watch over them. But when the time comes for confrontation, nothing is what it seems. Their conversation reopens old wounds and traumatic memories.
“The play takes an intense and uncompromising look at what happens when families, lives and minds are divided by politics. Set against a political struggle, it also explores borders, real and imaginary, that we form between ourselves and the people we love the most,” reveals Patel, who plays the role of Saira in the play.
Although the production is an amalgamation of two production houses – Rage Foundation (India) and Tinderbox and Mercury Theatre Company (UK), Patel informed that putting the play together was not as difficult as it may seem. “Strangely, the process of rehearsals was really easy. Perhaps because the play has no specific geographical setting, we were able to look at the universal context of the play and not worry about any specific culture. It is the story of a family and the truth of their relationship was all we focused on,” expresses Patel.
Patel reveals that she found it interesting that the actress playing her mother in the play, Jasmina Daniel, is half Iranian-half British, the actor playing her brother, Nabil Stuart, is half Italian-half Scottish and yet, all of them were able to create a family unit with no difficulty. “I find that fact wonderful that we all share the same emotions and respond the same way whichever part of this world we are from,” she adds.
On Nov 6, 6 pm and 9 pm
At Prthivi Theatre, Janki Kutir, Juhu.