In 1957, the Soviet Union launched the first Earth-orbiting artificial satellite, Sputnik 1. The feat caused the unprepared United States a great deal of surprise, igniting what would go on to be called the Space Race. It culminated in the USA’s successful human landing on the moon in 1969. This was known as the ‘Sputnik Moment’, the crisis point at which one is forced to wake up and say, like Robert Frost, “There are miles to go before I sleep.”
In Sputnik Moments, a play by Yours Truly Theatre, the actors examine a number of ‘wow’ moments - philosophical realisations, moments of great, intense emotion. They tackle topics like the meaning of community today, urbanisation, social conditions, how relationships have transformed through technology, dissecting the game-changer moments of modern life.
“It explores and presents themes like human relationships - how has social media affected the way we feel and think? How much do our words and actions contradict each other,” explains Nandini Rao, co-founder, Yours Truly Theatre. Sputnik Moment, she says, has been performed in “many variations and platforms and has been tweaked this time for more flavour. It is a piece that has been refined and developed over time, consisting of personal stories as well as insights from the team.”
Comedy and sarcasm are the undercurrents through the play, making the journey from one story to another a seamless ride for the audience.
Yours Truly Theatre began 15 years ago, in 2003. For Rao, who is a veteran in the circuit herself, had worked with many groups and directors, was looking for a language that was relevant to modern audiences. “The idea for Yours Truly Theatre was born from this thought, of experimenting with different formats of interactive and intimate theatre performance,” says Rao. She wanted to connect with audiences in a language they understand and to explore the form as having a bigger message than mere entertainment.
And theatre, Rao argues, is the most effective medium to address social and developmental issues. “It creates space and distance, and, being a blend of fiction and reality it offers a unique opportunity for people to express and challenge ideas, through the veil of storytelling, symbolism and metaphor.”