A look at theatre through the ages, whichever the country is, has one common aspect - it often imbibes and reflects the changes taking place in their socio- political and economic scenario. Be it assent or very often dissent, theatre has strived to present precise and powerful interpretations of burning issues. Theatre has the power to bring to the stage and thus into the open subjects considered taboo or those which are spoken behind closed doors or in hushed whispers. Playwright Arun P. R chose the occasion of Women's Day to stage his play Hand Of God to speak out loud and clear on issues women have been suffering silently.
Arun elaborates, "There are some subjects that are generally not talked about in public but should be spoken about — like gender issues, marital rape and the concept of consent. Consent is not something applicable only before marriage but also after marriage. Hand of God questions and answers all these issues." The play has already been staged to a select theatre audience with a smaller cast of 10 people and the response gave him the confidence to stage it on a larger platform.
Hand of God has seven people on board — actor Rejisha Vijayan, model and poet Jilu Joseph, seasoned actors Sreekanth and Praveen and two youngsters Abhi and Aadhi along with actor-model Athulya Nair.
The concept, text and scenography are by Arun, who says, "We are living in a world where rapes and murders are becoming common instilling fear in everyone. Alongside this are questions about the very existence of God and about who God is. Questions were whirling in my mind and I discussed the idea with some prominent playwrights and thus came the subject of the play which addresses the topic of God." He decided to stage the play in English so that he could take it outside Kerala.
The rehearsals for the play have been happening for the past 30 days. The play is not just actors speaking out rehearsed lines.
It is also about interacting and involving the audience. Confused? "We will be acting out the play on stage with rehearsed lines but according to the audience responses, the play can change character and take new directions.
70 per cent of the play is rehearsed but the rest 30 per cent will be flexible so the play is actually socio-interactive and dynamic depending on the audience response," Arun explains.
The play is staged by Fifth Estate, a theatre group that strives to handle gender, caste and social oppression. "We aim to react to issues like this through our plays through spaces where the public can watch and engage. Art can also be a pillar for democracy," opines Arun.
The play will be staged at the River Bourne Centre, Kochi at 7.30 pm on March 8, 9 and 10.