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New play delves into the void that Mother Teresa grappled with for decades

(Extreme left) Omkar Bhatkar at the play rehearsal. Pic/Nimesh Dave
(Extreme left) Omkar Bhatkar at the play rehearsal. Pic/Nimesh Dave

If I ever become a saint, I will surely be one of darkness," Mother Teresa once said. Metamorphosis Theatre Inc new play, If My Darkness Is Light To Some Soul, begins with the same line. Written and directed by Omkar Bhatkar, the play revolves around the letters that Mother Teresa wrote for over 50 years to five of her spiritual superiors, describing the despair that threatened to annihilate her faith in the saviour.

"It's an initiative of the Archdiocese of Bombay who wanted a play on Mother Teresa. While we are all aware of her altruism, I wanted to bring out an aspect that's little known," says Bhatkar. While researching on her life and reading up her biographies, he chanced up on a book titled Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light written by Rev. Brian Koulibiaca, a senior member of the Missionaries of Charity order that she founded in 1947. The book talks about the correspondence between the Albanian Roman Catholic nun and her spiritual superiors over a period of 66 years. "She had requested that they be destroyed, but it was overruled by her church, who felt they were potential relics of a saint," he says.

Her letters talk about the feelings of abandonment and despondency that she experienced as she could no longer hear the call of Jesus after setting up Missionaries of Charity. "It's believed that she had visions and would hear the voice of Jesus, but all that stopped when she set up the foundation. That's when she felt the desperate loneliness," he says. What propelled Bhatkar to take up the topic, was the universality of the feelings. "The sense of self-doubt is something that people on the journey of faith often experience. There are times when we question the existence of God on seeing so much misery around us."

The play also employs elements of physical theatre. It begins with the story of a writer who is scripting a play on Mother Teresa and his discovery of letters, and goes back to Mother Teresa's time (1947- 1997).

Interestingly, the play also draws parallels between mother Teresa and Mother Mary. "Even Virgin Mary cried out to God and questioned his existence when her own son was dying on a Cross. When the nails were being driven into his flesh, she wondered if God was watching over her son." The play, he admits, is intense, which made him shorten the length to an hour. "The story of a lonesome spiritual journey can get whelming." The biggest challenge, however, was finding the right cast for the play, who could portray the emptiness. "It's difficult when you have a lot of young people in the cast because not everyone has experienced such emotions. It's only when you internalise, that it comes out beautifully on stage."

Battling emptiness
Come Be My Light by Rev Brian Kolodiejchuk, published in 2007, contains letters primarily of correspondence between Mother Teresa and her superiors over a period of 66 years. The letters caused a scandal when it was released.

Where: St Andrew's Auditorium, 55, Saint Dominic Road, Bandra
When: June 29, 11 AM

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