UWC Mahindra College monthly newsletter

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Letters from 91 - theatre season 2012

Letters from 91

What they said about themselves.......

As the spring of 1991 sets in, the Himalayan snow begins to melt and the waters of the river Jhelum gain momentum. 

But soon the clean blue gushing waters are turned red, as Kashmir once called “the paradise on earth” by the Mughals, erupts with the songs of independence emanating from the loudspeakers of mosques and blood flowing through the streets of Srinagar. Born amidst such hostilities, Irfan finds himself surrounded by a black smoke of violence, dense enough to stain even the most majestic and serene landscapes of Kashmir. Irfan’s childhood is mostly restricted indoors due to the curfew imposed outside and he spends his time playing with pigeons nesting on the rooftop of his house while India, Pakistan and Kashmir paly politics over life and land. Irfan‘s life is controlled by his overprotecting mother, his terrorist turned father and the armoured military vehicle on the road which repeatedly warns him to stay indoors or otherwise they would shoot. This is a story about immense love and absolute hatred, a story about violence and innocence, a story about beauty and destruction. The stories of this world are unheard and the scenes are unseen and Irfan, a child as innocent and blissful as a newly bloomed daffodil, takes us deep into this world – the world of terrorism.

What was said about them......
Another self-penned student play this theatre season was set in a beautifully created little theatre space at the lawn outside the conference room. Four levels of seating rose sharply from a small stage thrusting out of a makeshift proscenium between two ornamental palm trees. The night sky above and the warm glow of theatre lights below, the audience felt intimately held.

Letters from 91 was a brave and noble attempt to create a drama, which might show and tell something about the Kashmir issue in a way that could speak to people during Theatre Season here. It achieved this objective to some extent, and there is likely to be more interest and awareness now about this tense problem in the North. The play is a neatly constructed piece, however it could have been edited and expanded to flesh out some of the issues with more subtlety and with some more nuanced characterization, and the writers showed their inexperience with the medium in this respect.

William performed well as the ill-fated Irfan whom we follow into a prison in Delhi and away to meet his end after torture in Kashmir. Roshni’s truculent younger Irfan was an engaging character, and Avaneesh as the uncle was very true to type with his fixed smile in his first scene turning to a shocked grimace in his last. Constantine and Prioty managed bit parts well, although the crowd laughed to see them in their roles as shop owner and soldier, and even more, when they played a pair of children from the village; while Matthew delivered a most unsuspected performance as a cruel and Americanised head of Delhi police, not afraid to use torture. Congratulations especially to William, whose central performance kept intact an emotional integrity which was all too often on the verge of getting lost altogether. 

The explosion at the end, though, was so loud and convincing that I was afraid the lighting dimmer pack had finally blown up! My fears were quickly allayed as Mugdha, as a news reporter, appeared speaking into a microphone, pursued by Pulkit with video camera. Her report ended with a credit to herself and the cameraman, which elicited more laughter, but the sad side to all this was that she was reporting a suicide blast, this time by Irfan’s son.Three generations and the same sad, confused pattern of violence playing itself out with deadly repetitiveness.

Congratulations again to the creators of it, for their goodwill, their hard work and sincerity: surely this effort and this experience will pay dividends in the future. 

Benedict  Clark
Head of Aesthetics


No comments:

Post a Comment