Social media, because of its very nature, creates new forms of behaviour,” says Zubin Driver. No, the theatre director isn’t giving us a speech on the online world but is, in fact, referring to his new play Status Quo that premiers as part of the Centrestage Festival at the National Centre of Performing Arts (NCPA) today. The play sees actors Heeba Shah and Asif Basra play a modern couple who find it very tough to connect with each other in real life because they are so busy leading an online life. “It’s the whole collision of online culture with offline world,” says Driver.
The rehearsals for the play started sometime in November. Shah, who has worked earlier with Driver in a play titled Devi, says it’s exciting to work with the director as he’s full of fresh and original ideas. Talking more about the play, she says it has all sorts of moments that a normal couple would go through, including the ups and downs. “It’s hard to say whether they are together or whether they have met.
We have left that to the audience,” says Shah. With scenes that involve the two of them together, busy in their online world, Shah says she is sure some members of the audience would end up thinking, ‘That’s exactly what we do!’ With only two people on the stage, there’s every chance of the audience getting bored, but according to Shah, it all depends on the actors. “If the actors are not connecting with the words, the audience won’t either,” she says categorically.
Driver cast Shah and Basra as he felt the duo complement each other. “I have worked with Heeba and she is a wonderful actor. I have seen Asif’s work in films. I cast them as I wanted an interesting couple and nor a regular, conventional one,” he adds. The modern, contemporary play is funny and satirical but Driver says he isn’t trying to make a social comment. “My job as a playwright, is to chronicle a phenomenon as clearly as possible and let people take home their own conclusions,” he says.