Plays

Bearing Witness by Apeksha Vora
[English]

Yards by Laya Kumar
[English]

I Killed My Mother / It Wasn’t My Fault by Mallika Shah
[English]

Order Accepted by Naveen Sharma
[Hindustani]

Shareefan – a play in monologues by Sarah Mariam
[Hindustani]

Between all of us by Sheetala Bhat
[English, Kannada]

Star in the Sky by Sri Vamsi Matta
[English, Telugu]

Footage by Varoon P. Anand
[English, Hindustani]

Adventures of Jil Jil by Vikram Phukan
[English, with a smattering of Tamil & French]


Bearing Witness by Apeksha Vora

apekshavora@gmail.com

Synopsis
Three unsuspecting souls collide with each other at university, and as they grapple with questions of self, love, politics and faith, something explodes that will change their lives forever. When we meet them, it’s ten years and a lifetime later,  one of them has just been arrested. As the other two mobilize solidarity from across the world for the release of their comrade, they reflect back on how they landed up at these shores to begin with. Grappling with struggles of personal and political praxis at a time when right-wing fascism is on a rise globally, the three push their own boundaries, asking the question “what does it mean to stay faithful in dark times?” 

The play is a peek into the messy lives of political activists, and the resilience of human relationships that survive time, distance and national borders. By laying these lives bare, the play explores what it means to “bear witness” and how it plays out in different aspects of our lives – personal, interpersonal, political, spiritual and in the role of artists in society.

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Yards by Laya Kumar

layakumar48@gmail.com

Synopsis
The play explores different facets of the question – can women lay claim over their bodies? This happens over six monologues that are delivered through the course of one over of a cricket match. These monologues highlight different stages of a woman’s relationship with her body and explore the moments of specific realisation of ownership. Interspersing the monologues are expressions of found poetry, sourced from mainstream narratives that appear in newspapers, articles, essays and interviews. The exploration of this question is built on two premises: the power of language, that translates into the stories we are told as women, and how muscle memory shapes our own view of ourselves.

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I Killed My Mother / It Wasn’t My Fault by Mallika Shah

mallikashah95@gmail.com

Synopsis
For this Girl of 25, life with herself is continually turbulent. This morning is particularly overwhelming; She is assaulted by self-doubt, unemployment, too much social media, and her mother. Still, She must brave the mundanity and frivolousness of urban girlhood, all the while looking for someone to blame for Her loss of self. This is Her story of just another ordinary day.

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Order Accepted by Naveen Sharma

ns69894@gmail.com

Synopsis
The play explores momentary relationships, with people we meet regularly but don’t know them personally (Uber, Ola drivers or the Zomato, Swiggy, UberEats personnel), which is personal in terms of experience but also purely economical. The play is an attempt to question whether the institutions and establishment have a role in the sudden upsurge of the app-based gig economy.

With the recent upsurge of violence and the young being at the very forefront of it, one of the foremost reasons in my opinion for this phenomenon is unemployment or fear of such, and lack of ‘opportunities’ to invest your sense of self. How do we then make sense of the role of youth as we look into the future of the country? 

The future of the gig-economy brings up many questions about the politics of labour, youth, economic freedom, dignity and hierarchy in relationships in a developing city, all of which I intend to explore through this play. In this relationship between the consumer and the driver, what does a driver choose when he/she is in conflict with their beliefs? Will they choose the income over ideas, ideals or vice versa?

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Shareefan – a play in monologues by Sarah Mariam

sarahmariam003@gmail.com

Synopsis
The idea for this project is intrinsically linked with my own location- the city, gender and religion I was born into. What struck me increasingly about the small city of Aligarh that I grew up in, as I moved further and further away from it, was the gaping difference between the perception that exists around it, and how the city truly is, as I’ve lived and known it up-close. It was only perspective that distance lent, through which I realised that what my city hides, physically and metaphorically, is its women. Any city is not just its rich history, its legacies of literature and culture. Rather, what makes a city is that which keeps it alive, that which takes the legacy forward, and erodes it where necessary. Aligarh as I have seen and experienced it, is no exception to this rule.

The seemingly straightforward, academically oriented small-town of Aligarh, with Tehzeeb, Adab, Lihaaz and Akhlaaq as its cornerstones, is, at the hands of the women of the city, mischievously misleading, delightfully deviant, and movingly radical. For fear that such remarkable lives full of desire, intensity, courage yet doubt, might get lost, I feel the urge to put in place an account that reveals what it means to be Muslim and Woman in a small town in India. What I hope will emerge will be fictionalised narratives of how female Muslim lives are both shaped by, and significantly shape their familial, communal, and political environments, unpacking ideas of how sexuality is claimed, ideas of selfhood are asserted and microaggressions of an obliterative patriarchy are combated.

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Between all of us by Sheetala Bhat

sheetala.s.b@gmail.com

Synopsis
Three teenage girls in a small town in Karnataka begin to explore an enigmatic moment in India’s history about Jamal-ud-Din Yaqut, an African Siddi slave who later became a nobleman, and Razia Sultan, the first and only female monarch of the Delhi Sultanate. In an effort to grapple with their own identities amidst the growing threat of a Hindu nationalist riot in their town, the girls decide to alter history in their project but clash with each other on the details in ways that parallel the relationship between the historical figures. What starts as a humble school project spirals when the past and the present collapse into each other and the history begins to speak back. 

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Star in the Sky by Sri Vamsi Matta

srivamsimatta@gmail.com

Synopsis
Star in the Sky is an adaptation of the telugu story ‘Aakasam lo Oka Nakshatram’ by Dr M. Suguna Rao. The story is based on the life and death of Rohith Vemula and attempts to retell a story of pain, identity, discrimination, assertion, death, grief, and memory. The play is an attempt to transcreate the story for a larger audience by bringing to performance the myth, metanarratives, memories, resistance, and all that constitutes the lives and experiences of Dalits while delicately building the portrait of an unjust society that persecuted them with a touch of magic realism.

Through the eyes of Matthew, a History final year PhD student from HCU, we witness the life and death of the magnetic Thohiro, a young student of Astrophysics with a desire to learn about the universe & transcending identities. Three musicians, Yesu, Bhanu, and Seenu, accompany their journey, weaving their story with wry humor, and satire, to highlight broader themes of contemporary Dalit identity. The play blends myth, memory and politics in a musical that is breaking (or making) the stories of the identities it wishes to portray. The narrative is an implied commentary that moves back and forth, digresses and irrupts into the audiences for an informed awakening on understanding the experiences of caste and discrimination. Star in the Sky takes you into a world that makes you feel and touch the untouched.

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Footage by Varoon P. Anand

varoon.anand@gmail.com

Synopsis
A former journalist tries to teach an introductory class on investigative journalism to young minds. A specific focus of the class is to analyze and document a rape allegation made against a well known media magnate which hinges on the information on a surveillance tape of the incident. Two of the students in the class, however, also look for work outside of the classroom to earn money. The search for work leads them to a secretive media organization that operates as a troll farm for the highest bidder. As the students navigate their responsibilities to the class and their jobs, they have to evaluate what holds higher value to their existence. On the other hand, the professor of the class and the owner of the troll farm are brought face to face by the presence of the students in both of their worlds. The clash between the needs of the students, the values of the professor and the pragmatic greed of the troll farm owner propels the plot forward. The play seeks to explore the rules of workplace safety, and explore the assumptions we carry towards the role of women in work spaces. 

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Adventures of Jil Jil by Vikram Phukan

vphukan@gmail.com

Synopsis
Jil Jil Ramamani is the comic folk performer portrayed by Manorama in the 1968 Tamil film, Thillana Mohanambal. In the play Adventures of Jil Jil, she escapes the confines of mainstream Tamil cinema, and her many adventures lead her to seriously contemplate the broad strokes with which she’s been delineated. Her search for authenticity brings her in conflict with the writer who has ‘created’ her, in a way that might be shared with many other female characters — figments of the imaginations of men, yet significant in the way they visibilized femininity in popular culture. Hot on her tail is the documentary filmmaker Anja, who wants to repurpose the found footage of a forgotten film featuring Jil Jil as its protagonist into a contemporary feminist masterpiece, for the European arthouse circuit.

Click here for an excerpt