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Head to this immersive theatre performance in Bandra

Updated on: 27 May,2024 09:29 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Devashish Kamble |

A Mumbai-based theatre group will present two entertaining yet poignant children’s stories through immersive performances

Head to this immersive theatre performance in Bandra

Barkha Fatnani performs as the hermit crab in her play

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Head to this immersive theatre performance in Bandra

You wouldn’t expect a children’s play to address the Hiroshima bombings, or deep-dive into conversations around existentialism and the purpose of life. But with the right amount of souzou — Japanese for imagination, and the title of Gillo Repertory Theatre’s upcoming play, it might just be within reach. As director Barkha 
Fatnani puts it, “Kids will be entertained, and parents will have some interesting questions to answer on their way home.”

The two-act play has traversed diverse landscapes before making its way to the city venue. The seed of the first play, Hermit Crab’s Dream, was sown in 
Fatnani’s mind at a storytellers’ residency in South Korea in 2017, and germinated into a play when she returned to the city with a changed worldview. “A Japanese storyteller narrated a story of a hermit crab that loses its shell, and with it, his ability to dream. The story was simple but managed to shed light on the Hiroshima bombings and environmentalism in a way that was far from distressing,” she recalls.

 Ritul SinghRitul Singh

The play, interestingly, was first adapted for stage in Hindi; a decision that aligned with creative director Shaili Sathyu’s ongoing efforts to take children’s plays to the rural pockets of India. As part of the repertory’s Natak Yatra in 2022, the story was presented for young audiences in the hills of Uttarakhand before being translated to English. “Performing in the city can get monotonous. We set out on the yatra because we wanted to reach newer, unfamiliar audiences,” Sathyu explains.

While Fatnani’s performance is set in the sandy shorelines of the Far East, the second play in the series takes a departure to the snowy landscape set in a fictional mountain range. Ritul Singh’s Frederick follows a titular mouse, and explores ideas of community work, how we face challenges in life, and questions about what work is more valuable to survival than others.

Barkha Fatnani and Shaili SathyuBarkha Fatnani and Shaili Sathyu

With stories set in visually diverse landscapes, Sathyu’s decision to take it to unfamiliar audiences doesn’t come without challenges, Fatnani admits. “When you talk about a beach in Uttarakhand, or snow in Mumbai, you’re bound to get a few confused looks,” she chuckles. The duo bridges the gap with immersive elements. From a bottle of sand sampled from Juhu beach that is sprinkled on the stage, to a large drum sourced from Pondicherry that mimic strong winds, these unusual props transport the audience to a land far away.

Ahead of the performances this weekend, Fatnani admits that while the props are a great help, it’s ultimately in the audience’s hands to decide how well they really work. “We start every performance by asking the audience to close their eyes and imagine making their way across seas to the locations from the play,” she shares. How well the performances pan out when their eyes open to the stage, she notes, still rests entirely on a singular element — souzou.

ON June 1; 5 pm and 7 pm
AT St Andrew’s Centre for Philosophy & Performing Arts, Bandra West. 
ENTRY Rs 200

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