Who is a Bangalorean, really, asks theatre person Nimi Ravindran, shortly before her play, Park reopens on the Bengaluru stage one year after its hugely successful debut. "Does speaking Kannada at home make you Bengalurean? Or are they those whose families have been here for a 100 years?" What is belonging? Why has it captured the human imagination so?
Manav Kaul's Park is, at first glance, a comedy about three men engaging in what seems like a petty brawl over a park bench. The story unfolds, as the title suggests, in a park, which could be in any Indian city, where life is marked by the continuous jostling for space. Three benches stand in this park, one for each of the three men who enter. They squabble, nevertheless, over one hallowed seat, with each man presenting a backstory and an argument. "It starts out as banter and one-upmanship but turns into something very serious, that could escalate into violence," says Ravindran, the director.
A layered story rooted in metaphor, the park itself is symbolic of a number of things, the shrinking of public spaces being one of them. Three men, all with different backgrounds - one is a recent law school graduate, the other is a schoolteacher and the third a family man - find some semblance of peace in this spot. "That's not an easy thing to do, especially in a place like Bengaluru, where parks are locked through the day! Here, malls are the new parks."
Starring Ashish D'Abreo, Deepak Subramanya and Jimmy Xavier, Park is an exploration of identity, which is all the more relevant, feels Ravindran, in a city like Bengaluru. "I know people who moved to the city ten years ago and continue to say they're from elsewhere. It's not about right or wrong so much as the definition of identity. What draws people to a place? When do we feel like we belong? Or are we all outsiders?"
What: Park, by Sandbox Collective
When/Where: November 17 at IIHS, Sadashivnagar and November 18 at Atta Galata, Koramangala. Both shows are at 7 pm