From Off-Broadway to Mandi House. After three years in New York, wrapped in theatre research and three shows at Off-Broadway — “Celebrations of Life,” “Handicapped City” and “Kailashnath Weds Madhumati”, Sachin Gupta and Chilsag Chillies come back to the city with another performance of “Wake up Call.”
The play first staged in the Capital in 2007 is being revived after three years. “Wake up Call” blurs boundaries of performance space. Gupta makes the auditorium a stage and often the audience have a part to play. “About 80 per cent of my plays are those that involve the participation of the audience,” he says. After the slotted 60 minutes, the play opens the unscripted part drawing the audience into it.
The say of the audience matters much to Gupta. His theatre is meant to awaken and prod spectators to act. “Wake up Call” is poised on the modern-day insensitivity and ignorance to lives around being altered. A serene Janpath is interrupted by a blast and the play pierces into the lives that await victims.
“The issues are the same then and now,” says Gupta about the air of 2007 that prompted him to pen the play. A performance of the play at Bangalore in May, he says, ended with a “charged audience” with each wondering what they can do to make lives better.
At a time when bomb blasts are not isolated episodes, Gupta says, “When these blasts happen, we call our friends and family — Tu theek hai? If they are okay, we are no longer bothered. These bus accidents are almost like breakfast, lunch and dinner (the frequency at which they happen). There is no guarantee. During festivals we don't want to go to crowded places.”
What is left after peeling away fears is merely shards of life meant to be. “We are not trying to preach, but see if we can do something to bring about at least 0.1 per cent change,” says Gupta. His belief in the audience's power is mirrored in the launch of the website audienceinaction.com — a forum to talk of issues.
“At the end of the day, the purpose is to leave a question mark in your mind.”
The intention of Gupta, a software engineer-turned-theatre person, is to get as many people on to the stage as possible. He brings in all those with a passion for theatre engaged in different professions to be a part of theatre.
For his Off-Broadway productions, he relied on American actors. In his musical “Kailashnath Weds Madumati,” his Madhumati was Russian who learnt a few dialogues in Hindi. “The response was very good,” he says.
With “Wake up Call” Gupta is looking for a proactive and determined response from his audience.