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Tibet finds a voice on Mumbai's stage

When Quasar Thakore Padamsee met Tenzin Tsundue in 1999, little did he imagine that this poet would go on to become an activist who would fight for the cause of Tibet. In his interactions with Tsundue, he was able to spot a poet who expressed more than words could reveal. Padamsee picked up a book of poems written by Tsundue a year and a half ago and it sowed the seeds of his newest play, So Many Socks, which premieres at Prithvi Theatre on Thursday.

So Many Socks

“The concept of what happens when words are not enough to convey something has always bothered me. When I read Tenzin’s poems, I felt this was great source material for something I have thought about. His poems reveal so much more than words. There was depth in it, and it gave me the material for So Many Socks,” explains 34-year-old Padamsee. He approached Annie Zaidi, who then wrote the script for the play. The production is a movement-based piece, which has resulted from a collaboration between actors, director, playwright and choreographer.

Plenty of research went into the play; Padamsee travelled to Dharamshala, where he interacted with Tsundue to understand the issue, before he began work. “We held six to eight-hour workshops daily, where a few of us along with Annie would sit together and explore the poems, and interpret them.

So Many Socks
Stills from the rehearsal of So Many Socks

This gave Annie the blueprint of the play, after which she started working on the script,” informs Padamsee. The process of directing the play was intense, he admits. “It is organically built as everything that is a part of it emerged from our interactions. The choreographer, music director and I worked together to build a grammar that would tell a powerful story,” explains Padamsee.

Quasar believes that if one reads the poems and watches this play, one might wonder about the connect between the two. “But those who have understood Tsundue’s poems in depth will be able to see the issues that he has raised, highlighted beautifully in the play.

However, this is not a cause-based play,” he clarifies. “It is about a small family, uprooted from its home and living as refugees. It is about feeling rootless, alienated, sans any tradition and heritage. It is about their struggle to find a place that they can call home,” he adds. Padamsee feels this story is applicable to all. “In Mumbai, most people have come from other towns and cities. There are times when we feel rootless and sense the need to understand where we come from,” he elaborates.

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