Circle of Hope

The large circle at the centre of the rehearsal room remains constant throughout.

Written by Alaka Sahani | Published: September 5, 2012 1:53 am

The large circle at the centre of the rehearsal room remains constant throughout. With most of the actions taking place inside and some on its periphery,the circle emerges as a dominating character of the play,So Many Socks,written by Annie Zaidi and directed by Quasar Thakore Padamsee. The circle is formed by socks of different colours and sizes. The pattern is broken by placing,in between socks,items such as lamps,tiffin boxes,jerkins,clothes and other things that one needs during a journey.

The play tells the story of three generations of a Tibetan family living in exile in India. They find themselves “stuck in different corners of a circle”. A pair of boots and many socks are all that accompany them on their journey to find a place that each can call “home”. The play is inspired by writer and Tibetan activist Tenzin Tsundue’s collection of poems,Kora. “In our play,we have stuck to Kora’s theme of yearning for home. That apart,it’s a new play written by Annie Zaidi and developed by our group of performers,” says the director,one of the founders of Mumbai-based Q Theatre Production (QTP). The play premieres at Prithvi Theatre,Juhu,on Thursday and will have two shows daily till Sunday.

Thakore Padamsee’s association with Tsundue dates to 1999 when the Tibetian activist was studying in Mumbai. Then,Tsundue had written a poem for Thespo,a festival for under-25 theatre enthusiasts,spearheaded by QTP,as well as staged a platform performance directed by Thakore Padamsee. Even though they were in touch on and off,the idea of doing this play came about when Thakore Padamsee read Kora nearly two years ago.

This was followed by a long process of audition for the play’s casting. Once its nine-member cast was finalised,this theatrical piece was developed in collaboration with actors,director,playwright and choreographer. “I had never done a movement piece earlier. So I decided to explore a different structure,” says Thakore Padamsee,who roped in Amey Mehta,dance director at Temperance India,Mumbai,to work on the actors’ movements. Since memory plays a crucial role in So Many Socks,where a series of vignettes form the narrative,the director has chosen to let go of the conventional method of story-telling for a non-linear structure. The play goes back and forth in time. “Unlike this play,most of my earlier works have been verbose,” he says. Over the last 15 years,he has directed several plays including All My Sons,Minorities,Kindertransport,Khatijabai of Karmali Terrace and Project S.T.R.I.P..

With So Many Socks,Thakore Padamsee seeks to raise questions,just the way he did in Project S.T.R.I.P.,which talked out the cost of development in a highly competitive market economy. Yet,he asserts that his new play is not intended to be a political piece. “The aim is to explore,discover and try to understand what happens to us as human beings,‘when words are not enough’. The recent tragic

self-immolations of young Tibetans seem to be one such expression of non-verbal communication,” he says.

Using the skills that the members of the cast possess,the play also features music. The two opening songs are from Kora while others have been developed by the actors. The play will have Saattvic on the bongo and tabla while Suhas Ahuja,who composed music for the film That Girl in Yellow Boots,will be on guitar for musical interludes.

In the 80-minute play,Thakore Padamsee does not allow an interval. It is a very delicate play. “Once the viewers step out of it,it will be difficult for them to get into it again.” he says.

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