Can we really find the person of our dreams? And if we do, will it be a flash of understanding or grow over time? Ravi D'Abreo, director of The Seven Steps, said "There is no exactness to anything, there are layers to everything, relationships most of all." 'Friends' meets 'No Exit' in the hour before the protagonist, Ayesha, is about to marry "the man of her dreams."
That sets the scene: Ayesha, in all her bridal attire, will be someone's wife before the night is through. Those final moments are spent, fittingly, in the company of Harsh and Roy, her best friends.
The three 30-somethings look back on their lives, reflecting on their choices and their mistakes. “We wanted to create something that people can relate to, something that reflects an every-day conflict but yet stay away from any cliché or stereotype and different from the literatures of theatre,” said the 42-year playwright. Ravi has co-written this play with Pooja Hegde, Mario Jerome and SiddarthSelvaraj, who are also the actors in the play. Even though all of them are notfull time theatre professionals, they have been related to theatre for over two decades now and hold enough experience in the creative field that involves expression and brings a natural incline towards theatre.
Ravi is also the co-founder of a creative agency - Origami Creative and has been involved with different aspects oftheatre as an actor, a facilitator, a curator, a writer and a director while Pooja has spent her work life in various departments of filmmaking, with storytellingas her prime love. Mario has been active on stage as an actor and director forthe last 7 years and has also developed stories for short films and ads. Siddarth, who enjoys film criticism and political analysis, runs a boutiqueproduction house called Studio 33 that tells stories of organisations andpeople through film and animation.
As the name implies, the play presents seven different takes on love and relationships, for the caste brainstormed this script into being. Perhaps their own familiarity, and the intention to keep things relatable, lent themselves to the streaks of humour that course through the play.
“We did not want to cater only to the limited audience of theatre-loving people. Which is also why the play is like having a chat in our living room,” added Ravi as he recalled the premier of the play in March.
The play has interludes of video and animation that are chronologically integrated into the script to keep the act interesting. While the play highlights “the various layers of a relation and how one changes oneself to maintainit”, it is not ‘hugely psychological’ and constantly breaks through the heaviness of emotions through light-hearted moments of laughter among the three friends.
“Every person in the audience must be able to relate with these characters at some point, empathising with the emotions and agreeing to their actions,” said Ravi who reiterates the idea ofthe theatre movement, these four wish to bring about. “The movement that is just so real, which is not about acting or directing or theatre, but only abouthow people come there and connect.”
However, the idea of ‘F.R.I.E.N.D.S.’ meeting ‘No Exit’ is mostly metaphorical. “It just has someone who is about toget married discussing the ‘M’ word with someone who is not married and another one who has been married for a long time now, presenting the grey areas of marriage and relations.”
The play does not aim to showcase ‘the indulgent theatre’ but just ‘the simpler spaces’ that theatre is now being expanded to. “Theatre is vividly expanding in the city but it’s up to us to getmore and more people to it,” emphasized Ravi as he rushed for his rehearsal session before the curtains unfold on the stage, leaving us with the question. “What’s Bengaluru if we take theatre away from it?”
What: Seven Steps
When: June 29, 8 pm
June 30 and July 1 - 3 pm and 6:30 pm
Where: Jagriti Theatre, Whitefield