To The Death Of My Own Family

August 5th, 2007

Q Theatre Productions brought down to India, an interesting play from New York called To The Death of My Own Family. Farah Bala, an actor, director and teaching artist, orginally from Bombay, was the only actor in this just-short-of-one-hour production about an Afghani-born American citizen in these paranoid times.

The play starts off with Nadeema (Farah), locked up on her entry back into the US following a harrowing trip to Afghanistan with her mother and siblings to rescue her father from the Taliban. As it turns out, her entire family is killed, and she returns to New York without even her baggage. She is then arrested and questioned.

The set consisted of a single bleak table and chair, and a single harsh overhead light provided a stark feel to the performance. The only prop was a small plastic packet containing scraps of letters and documents and other items (her sister’s lipstick, the AK47 cartridge that killed her brother) that Nadeema manages to cling onto while escaping from Afghanistan.

The play itself is a mixed bag. The playwright David L Meth (you can visit his website to know more about him) tries to talk about the paranoia that is gripping the United States “much like the fear that was manufactured agains Americans of Japanese Heritage during World War II“. However, my overall impression after watching the play was more of shock and anger against the atrocities committed by the Taliban.

During the post-production Q&A session, both David and the director (Peter Ratray) tried to say that the play was not necessarily about Afghanistan, but for all communities “since we all are minorities somewhere in the world“. But that didn’t quite gel with me. While the play was set around the fact that Nadeema had been arrested on entry into the US even though she was a US citizen and had grown up in New York, it seemed (to me at least) that she was trying to convince the authorities of the terrible things going on in Afghanistan.

In spite of this dichotomy of perspectives, Farah in the role of Nadeema was extremely good. Her performance was strong and moving. Her portrayal of her conversations with her family (playing both sides) was extremely believable, and she was able to make the audience empathise with her plight. Of course, one of her biggest strengths was her movements. Most actors in Bangalore are extremely limited and self-conscious while moving on stage, and it was a refreshing change to watch someone who could use the stage like it is meant to be used.

Overall, it was a good production, with some food for thought. I wish we had been able to see more of what the playwright had in mind, but nonetheless, a worthwhile one hour.

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Back again!

August 5th, 2007

After a really long hiatus, I am back to blogging again. As always, it’s likely that this is not likely to last more that a post or two, but in any case, let’s hope for the best.

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