As the 15-minute-long play named Protest begins, the audience can see a character sitting on a chair. A close-up of his face shows emotions such as sadness, anger, frustration and pain, all put together. A few minutes pass and blood starts coming from his mouth, a trickle followed by heavy flow. Later, his chest too starts bleeding, soaking his white kurta in blood. In the last segment, the character can be seen sitting on the chair, having a blood-bath.
The play, according to city-based celebrated theatre artiste Atul Pethe, is a creative way of protesting against everything happening in the society — from intolerance to violence, from insensitivity to inequality.
“It is not driven by one particular incident but collectively protests against all such things happening in our country over the past few years. As an artiste and as a human being, I am scared and worried what the outcome of this will be,” says Pethe.
While the play’s first and the last show happened on September 10 at Sudarshan Rangmanch, it has been put up on YouTube just two days ago. “This play is not only disturbing for the artiste, but also for the audience watching it. Hence, I decided against staging it the second time, although we documented it when it was staged at Sudarshan. When theatre artistes from other cities started approaching me to stage in their respective cities, I decided to put it on YouTube for the audience,” says the artiste, adding that economically also, it wasn’t feasible for him to stage the play again.
While the staged version was 15-minute long, the online version is 12 minutes. Designed, performed and directed by Pethe, the play’s music has been given by Narendra Bhide and lights by Pradeep Vaiddya. It is produced by Natakghar Pune.
Interestingly, the Protest does not have any dialogues. Asked why he decided to do so, Pethe says though people across the world are ‘talking” a lot, the talks are full of meaningless, empty words. “There is no real dialogue happening. Nobody is ready to listen. There are so many negative things happening in the country that people are crying internally and as well as externally. That’s why when the audience watched the play for the first time, they were left speechless; everyone can relate to it,” he explains.
The artiste says the use of blood signifies that people are bleeding – physically and mentally. Besides, blood, he says, does not have a caste or creed, everywhere across the world it’s red. “It also signifies that an artiste and every sensitive person is bleeding,” he says.