Item – Engineering social change through theatre
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Item – Engineering social change through theatre

By K. Apoorvananda

For the 3rd day of Bahuroopi 2019, a Gujarati play called ‘Item’ was staged in Bhoomigeeta. The stage was filled with an all-woman performance and the whole play was of course woman-centric.

Using bright coloured costume and simple setwork, the play was able to convey the theme of the play which was in Gujarati to an audience which spoke little or no Gujarati. It is not easy to speak to an audience from an unknown place about taboo topics discussed in this play. Though the task can be slightly intimidating, it was carried off with ease.

The actors had a strange sort of connect with the play as the whole play was about personal experiences of the actors themselves which were of different age groups which made for interesting and unique content.

The experiences were right from puberty to middle age and the theme was such that audience was able to connect to at least one part of the play. The most surprising part is the performers not only connected to the women in the audience but also the men.

A successful production is one which gives food for thought and makes people think, and the content definitely made people think. The perception that woman are fragile creatures that need to be protected is a farce is one thing that kept ringing throughout the entire play.

Coming from Gujarat, the actors had an interesting way to balance out the language barrier. Throughout the performance, over the top Bollywood clichés were sprinkled which made the audience gaze into the past with nostalgia and also roll out in splits of laughter.

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‘Item’ is a complete script comprising of a Broadway style performances which has a complete range of emotions.

It is a well-written script by NSD graduate Arpita Dhagat. The play has several layers as it discussed all aspects of a woman’s life which is not only necessary for a country like India which objectifies its woman but also has a nasty habit of equating beauty with things not remotely related to it. The performance exudes class as such topics need to be handled with care so as to not present things in its most raw form.

The Director has an interesting way of putting across humour which not only speaks of her intelligence but also her connect with the audience. Every time the script turned into something very serious, the tone of the play lightened by one of the characters coming out with a list of ‘10 things to know’ which made for some very interesting viewing.

All in all ‘Item’ will surely be counted as one of the standout plays of Bahuroopi 2019. They have not only left a mark on theatre but also set standards for contemporary theatre and original scripts.

February 5, 2019

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