I have learned to trust the artistic judgment of the folks at the helm of Company One. Each time I see an announcement of an upcoming show, my first reaction is to say to myself, "That does not seem like my kind of show, but I will go to see it because it is being done by Company One." And, without fail, it turns out to be something new and exciting and very much "my kind of show"! I have Company One to thank for consistently stretching my artistic sensibilities and broadening my theatrical horizons.
The latest stretching exercise is the New England Premiere of the stunning "The Displaced Hindu Gods Trilogy" by the bold and poetic playwright Aditi Brennan Kapil. Ms. Kapi is herself an oft-displaced person, so she writes from the deep well of personal experience in addressing the plight of the Indian diaspora. She is an Indian woman born in Bulgaria, raised in Sweden, and now residing in Minneapolis. Her over-arching theme in these three pieces centers on the lingering effects and unintended consequences of Imperialism and Colonialism and the many layers of struggle for a displaced person to find a place for herself in a new world. The three pieces stand alone, but are woven together by a thread that cuts deeply - like the kite string in "Shiv" that is embedded with fine bits of broken glass.
The conceit of this trilogy is that each of the pieces reflects one of the three main Hindu gods who appears in the form of a modern woman in two cases, and in the third case as "B," a person of ambiguous gender, a "hijra." If you are not conversant with the pantheon of Hindu gods, allow me to offer a quick summary of the three gods who appear in human form in this trinity of pieces.
- Shiv is the god of destruction for the purpose of rebirth
- Vishnu is the sustainer and protector god
- Brahmin is the creator god
- Shiv and her father are watching TV, a Star Trek-like drama which Shiv's father, Bapu, describes as about "well-meaning Imperialists."
- Shiv is a kleptomaniac attracted to stealing shiny objects without paying for them and without regard to whom they first belonged. . Imperialists and Colonialists could be construed as stealing the shiny objects they desired - the lands they coveted for their tea, silk, cotton, oil or slaves.
- There is a scene in which Bapu and Shiv's kite with the glass-embedded string morphs into a clothes line on which Shiv hangs laundry. This play could be viewed as an "airing of Colonialism's dirty laundry."
- A retired publisher who had previously spurned Bapu's poetry is now Shiv's absentee boss. When he finally makes his appearance, it is clear that he is the very embodiment of Colonialism run amok. In making an off-handed remark about the birth of a free India, Shiv retorts: "We are still in labor."
- His retreat and publishing office sits on a lake - part of the cosmic sea in which Shiv pretends to fish for constellations.
- The publisher, Mr. Everett, has as his logo a representation of Mt. Everest with India as its shadow. In Ms. Kapil's cosmology, India continues to languish in the looming shadow cast by the monolith that was the British Raj.
Michael Dwan Singh (Bapu)
Payal Sharma (Shiv)
(Photo by Craig Bailey/Perspective Photo)
|"THE CHRONICLES OF KALKI" |
Pearl Shin (Girl 2)
Ally Dawson (Kalki)
Stephanie Recio (Girl 1)
(Photo by Paul Fox)
|"BRAHMAN/I: A ONE HIJA STAND-UP COMEDY SHOW" |
Casey Preston (J)
Aila Peck (B)
(Photo by Paul Fox)