What would happen if you are sitting on a park bench to get cosy with that special someone and a guard springs up from nowhere and draws a line, proclaiming that it symbolises the border between two nations and both of you are now on either side? This hypothetical situation forms the premise of London-based writer Kieran Lynn’s 2012 play An Incident at the Border. Mumbai-based theatre group Le Chayim Theatre presents the same production on August 22. It marks the directorial debut of Himanshu Sitlani, who has worked as an actor, stage manager and producer for nearly a decade. The 60-minute piece, which stars Divyang Thakkar and Divya Unny as the star-crossed lovers and Dhruv Louhmi as the border security guard, is a comedy that explores the imaginary lines that divide us.
Sitlani reveals he was inspired to make his directorial debut with An Incident at the Border as he has always been fascinated by borders and how they are demarcated. “How and who decides which part of land belongs to which side is quite an interesting question. Also there is a park bench on the US and Canada border that divides the two nations. When I started doing more research on this subject, I came across Lynn’s piece. After reading it, I knew instantly that I would like to helm it. Also with the recent Telangana issue, it had a local connection.”
After an open casting call and script reading sessions, he finalised the cast on the basis of how well they sounded as their characters rather than looking the part. “As Olivia (Unny’s character) is a strong woman, I wanted someone who had a commanding voice. Likewise, the border security guard suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder, so I chose Dhruv as he has earlier done improv comedy.”
Sitlani has used minimal props and limited the actors to a park bench to ensure the play is not typecast as a political piece. “After all, An Incident at the Border takes a light-hearted look at how the division of two countries also leads to the breakdown of the couple’s relationship,” he concludes.
When: August 22, 6.30 pm WHERE: Prithvi Theatre, Juhu