When city-based theatre and film director Mohit Takalkar proposed an event revolving around Gaza conflict to members of his theatre group Aasakta Kalamanch, most didn’t quite agree. However, Takalkar felt so strongly about the issue.
On September 13, a reading of four plays on the Gaza conflict has been organised by Aasakta Kalamanch, as a part of their initiative Ringan, under which they bring forth classic and contemporary works to the audience.
The plays include Seven Jewish Children, What Strong Fences Make, Seven Palestinian Children and The Eighth Jewish Child. The readings will be followed by a talk on Gaza, A Quest for Existence, by Atul Kahate.
The idea germinated over a month ago when Takalkar attended a Director’s Lab in New York, which saw 75 directors from 36 countries.
Takalkar recalls, “That was the time Israel-Gaza issue was at its peak. Since participants included Russian, Ukranian and Israeli directors, I witnessed so many in-depth discussions taking place, each one voicing opinion on the issue.” He adds, “When the issue escalated recently, I felt as theatre artistes, it was time to say something through our medium.”
Takalkar came to know about the play, Seven Jewish Children, by British playwright Caryl Churchill, which talked about how Israeli children are subjected to contradictory information about the past and the present.
The 10-minute play, Seven Jewish Children, has seven scenes that span 70 years during which Jewish adults discuss what or whether their children should be told about certain events of recent Jewish history.
“Generally, once a play is written, there are several voices, either appreciating the work or criticising it. In the case of this particular play, three playwrights came up with three plays, What Strong Fences Make by Israel Horovitz, Seven Palestinian Children by Deborah Margolin and The Eighth Jewish Child by Robbie Gringras,” he says.
The event, says Takalkar, explores both sides of the issue. There will be a short video prior to the event. Talking about the reason behind roping in Kahate for the talk, Takalkar explains, “In Ringan, we generally have a discussion session after play readings. However, in this particular case, neither have we written these plays nor have we done a detailed research. Kahate is someone who has delved into the issue.” Kahate’s book on the issue will be published soon.
Choosing the cast for a reading of the play, according to Takalkar, demands a different approach. “My initial and primary requirement was fluency in English when I started short-listing people for the play but as we proceeded, so many people came forward to be part of the initiative that I ended up involving even those who weren’t too fluent in English. With intensive rehearsals, everyone is doing an excellent job,” says Takalkar.
There are 15 people who will take part in the play reading session, Radhika Apte, Parna Pethe, Mrinmayee Godbole, Sarang Sathaye, Rupali Bhave, Devraya Potdar, Abhay Mahajan, Anand Kshirsagar, Tushar Gunjal, Prajakta Patil, Ruturaj Shinde, Hrishikesh Pujari, Jeevak More, Alap Vaidya and Ashish Mehta.
The event at Sudarshan Rangmanch on September 13, 7.30 pm onwards will be accompanied by live music by Benedict Taylor.