From love stories to comedy, to human interest stories set amidst economic turmoil to a story set in the Mahabharata, the 16 plays in five different languages that are premiering as part of the Centrestage Theatre Festival, include a wide range of subjects tackled in many unique ways. The festival, which starts this Thursday, will feature plays, not just from Indian production houses, but will also have shows from the US, the UK and Australia.
Apart from productions by theatre legends like Naseeruddin Shah and Om Puri, the festival includes many experimental plays and creative works, making it a must-visit for Mumbai’s theatre enthusiasts. British play LOL (Lots Of Love) that will be staged on December 7 is a piece of dance theatre that looks at the influence of the internet and social networking on the way human beings connect with each other.
“Through words, movements and video animations, the play looks at how much the electronic media has affected human interactions,” explains director Luca Silvestrini, who is in India for the first time and hopes his play garners a great response here as well.
Take centre stage
Some of the other plays that are generating immense curiosity include Mahesh Dattani’s The Big Fat City, Rahul da Cunha’s 27/11, Gulzar’s adaptation of Yudishtar Aur Draupadi, Ramu Ramanathan’s The Diary of a Word and the Om Puri, Divya Dutta starrer Teri Amrita, (the Punjabi version of Tumhari Amrita), which marks Om Puri’s return to stage after 25 years. Bhopal, a US play that will relive the heinous Bhopal Gas Tragedy, is also one being looked forward to.
Zafar Karachiwala, who stars in the play The Diary of a Word, feels that opening a play at a festival like this has its advantages. “You are assured of the initial boost. Then, you can take it to different places and tour with it,” he says.
Talking about the play, he explains that the play is about the loss of words and languages set in a love story. “Ramu reads a lot. When he learnt that out of 1600 plus languages that existed in India prior to Independence, the classification was limited to 108 post that to make things simpler, he spoke to many experts on what happened to the rest. That’s how the idea for the play came about,” says Zafar adding, “It is basically a love story and what happens when the lovers start losing words.
Their world starts crumbling as they lose communication. It moves into realms of gibberish, words start metamorphosing and languages change, but their love stays alive.”
There are two Marathi plays being staged as part of the festival and Pune-based group Theatron, whose play Kettakatha, premiers on December 9, is perhaps the youngest to be part of the festival. 20-year old Shivraj Waichal, who has co-directed the play, says that it is inspired by the concept of the Hollywood film Inception. “It is in a way a psychological play, and it delves into the creative process of a writer. It has story inside story inside story, just like Inception and it gets pretty complicated,” he admits.