Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Y this? Y that?


Radicalism. This one word is the core of Y — a new play co-written and co-directed by Shrirang Godbole and Vibhawari Deshpande. An Indo-German collaboration, in which Shrirang and Vibhawari worked with Lutz Hubner, Y takes a strong stand against radicalism and the extremist ideology that is being strongly felt around us.


This or That
Talking about the play, Vibhawari says, “It’s about a youngster who is contemplating the path of violence. He is standing at a crossroads and has to make a choice — this or that.”

“Through this play, we have tried to show the process of radicalisation — what is going on inside the boy’s head,” adds Shrirang.

The play, which premieres today, is a Maharashtra Cultural Centre’s production, and will be staged at Jyotsna Bhole Sabhagruha. The play has four versions, including the Marathi one. Says Shrirang, “The German production will be staged next year in September. The first one to be staged is in Marathi, followed by a Kannada version. In the near future, I will also bring out the English production.”

A universal issue
Y is a global play, dealing with global issues, but each version is rooted in the popular culture. “Germany, at present, is grappling with immigration issue and the ISIS crisis. In India, we have Kashmir issue, plus the silencing of our writers and intellectuals like Dr Narendra Dabholkar, M M Kalburgi. So the essence of all the versions is the same,” add the duo.
Shrirang goes on to add, “When Dabholkar and Kalburgi were killed, there was no en masse protest. There were a few groups which protested. I believe that if you remain silent, or do not express your opinion, when such incidents occur, it means that you are supporting them.”


Indo-German collaboration
The Indo-German collaboration started with Du and Me, a play for young adults. The same team — Shrirang, Vibhawari and Lutz — worked on the light-hearted play. “That’s when we realised that we sync really well in all aspects — creativity, values and principles of life are common. All four of us felt that this association cannot be only for one play. And, we started talking about the next collaborative project in September 2015, when we were in Berlin, with our shows. We met again in Bengaluru at Ranga Shankara for a show.

Surendranath of Ranga Shankara also expressed interest in working with Lutz. He said, ‘I have been working with these two playwrights, so why don’t you join this?’ Suri was happy to do that and he also hopped in. And, then this process started,” explains Vibhawari, quick to add that this is not a GRIPS play. “This play is in association with Stephan Fischer Fels of State Theatre, Dusseldorf,” says she.

The rise of right
A look at the global scenario tells us that the whole world is moving to ‘right radical’. “Violence and extremism is at its peak. And, there are so many global and local events that are denoting this fact. There is this urge to go right, to go to extremes, to go towards violence. The effort is to figure out why it is happening. Why we are doing this?” points out Vibhawari.

The play does not have any political or religious connotations. The message that the makers are trying to put across is that radicalism exists in our mind too. Says she, “In a casual manner, we make comments like ‘So and so people need to be killed. This is what they deserve’. We might not actually pick up a gun and shoot someone. But the thought itself is radical. We are on this path at some stage of our lives, and it’s time, we paused and thought about it.”

The treatment
Shrirang points out that, “Y is not an open-ended play. We make a strong statement denouncing terrorism, fanatacism and radicalism. As a person too, I don’t support terrorism — be it of any religious hue. The subject is grim and dark, but Y falls in the realm of dark humour. A play has to entertain, that’s what we believe. We are trying to break the regional and local nuances and make it global. As directors, we want people to go back thinking, ‘where do I stand on this path?”

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