Love in an airport lounge, a strange auto rickshaw ride, a conversation between two statues in a park… These stories come alive on three different stages in the city debut of A Funny Thing Called Life, produced by Bengaluru-based urban theatre group, Tahatto. The 70-minute play consists of six distinct parts that come together under the broad theme of the title.
As a whole
Playwright and director Prashanth Kumar Nair wrote the initial script in 2015, when the group was coming off a large-scale production. “While performing that particular play, we had many limitations with regard to where it could be performed. I felt we needed a modular, freewheeling play that could be performed in spaces that audiences frequent. Which also meant that the content needed to be accessible,” he says.
The broad theme of the play allowed him to focus on each sketch as its own story, says Nair, who was awarded The Hindu Playwright Award in 2012 for Romeo & Juliet — No Strings Attached. “As a writer, my overall theme was ‘funny, strange things happening to people who’re clearly unprepared for them’. Which means each sketch needed to exist in a world of its own,” he explains. Expect mostly English dialogues, with a smattering of Hindi and Tamil.
Life and art
Nair is part of the cast, which includes Kalyani Kumar, Badarivishal Kinhal, Piyush Agarwal and Venkataraghavan. Incidentally, a few of their own experiences tie in with their script. “Once we were slated to perform in a theatre festival, but two actors were travelling on those same dates,” he recounts. One person, however, volunteered to return — braving an avalanche from where she was flying, flight delays and legendary Bengaluru traffic. “She made it exactly 30 minutes before we were to go on stage,” he shudders.
Apart from learning to plan better, writing and directing this particular play led to a number of personal realisations. “People like being spoken to, not spoken at. We tend to forget that in the ‘art’ of creating art. The audience is open and receptive to uncomfortable topics when it was presented with lightness and whimsy. It allows them to have an access point. Honest debate is only possible when people aren’t blackmailed into feeling anything,” he concludes.
A Funny Thing Called Life will be staged at Alliance Francaise on November 16, The ARTery on November 17 and Backyard on November 18. All shows start at 7 pm. Tickets at ₹200 on in.bookmyshow.com. 9739450835