Vegetables are the stars in this play!

Updated: Dec 07, 2016, 15:39 IST | Snigdha Hasan |

An almost non-verbal play has vegetables take centre stage, with human characters in supporting roles

Padma Damodaran (left) with Choiti Ghosh
Padma Damodaran (left) with Choiti Ghosh

It’s a dhaaba where the brinjal is the star of the menu. In fact, the entire menu is themed around the brinjal, in all its varieties and sizes. With this undisputed position in the kitchen, the brinjals know nothing beyond their purple world and even follow a peculiar social order — until one fine day, they wake up to brown, dusty, odd-shaped potatoes in the dhaaba, which they later realise are vegetables themselves. And they are here to stay.

To children, this may resonate as a storybook plot that has come alive on stage, and adults may find allegorical hints in the performance, reminiscent of Orwell’s Animal Farm. Dhaaba, Tram Arts Trust’s latest production, which will premiere at NCPA’s Centrestage festival on November 26, has as many endings as the audience members. An object theatre performance, the play is largely non-verbal, where the plot unfolds through the theatrics of vegetables.

“This idea has had a gestational period of four years. We’ve been refining it, playing with various objects, until the current execution got finalised,” says theatreperson Padma Damodaran, who has devised and acted in the play with fellow actor and director Choiti Ghosh, also an object theatre practitioner.

“Object theatre has evolved from puppetry, and this particular production is structured in the clown format,” explains Ghosh, who plays the dhaaba’s sous chef. “Throughout the play, the peg points will not be narrated by human characters, but told through objects like signboards, which the audience needs to keep an eye out for,” she says. As the concept is likely to be novel to many, the duo will speak to the audience before the performance about what they should expect.

Coming to the plot, Damodaran, who plays the head chef, reveals as little as she can. “While it’s based on events of the past as well as the current state of affairs in the city and the world over, we only believe in presenting a proposition to the audience, who can then take it forward through their interpretation,” she tells us between rehearsals.

Keeping up with the practice of audience involvement that is gaining ground in experimental theatre, Damodaran and Ghosh are looking forward to having a chat with the audience after the performance to understand how they joined the dots between the humble vegetables.

On: November 26, 8 pm
At: Godrej Dance Theatre, NCPA
Call: 22824567
Cost: Rs 200 to Rs 250

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