SHUBHDA CHAUDHARY | 18 SEPTEMBER, 2017
Narrating a small yet significant message through theatre is definitely a daunting task. Creating a magical connection with the audience by employing the right expressions, sound and body language does demand subtle finesse.
It is an art that is being mastered by Trishla Patel and her team in Mumbai. After months of ferocious practicing and rehearsals, her team is presenting their new play titled ‘The Exchange Student’ which significantly raises a simple question regarding racism.
The play narrates the story of a young Italian girl finding herself lost and helpless in the city of Mumbai where she has come to meet her friend as an exchange student. Not only does she find herself often ignored, she also undergoes tumultuous battles in dealing with the ugly reality of Mumbai, its chaos, the underworld and above all, poverty. Though she is unknown to this side of life, she ends up connecting with the locals with her highly energetic and chirpy attitude. Eventually, she strikes an innocent and enduring friendship, a bond that very few can create, especially striking a connection with foreigners/locals as our society of today is very plagued with racism, predisposed traditions and superstitious narrative.
Though the play has been created with childhood fervor and extreme adrenaline-gushing energy of how children are still capable of connecting with each other in spite of the difference in gender, race and color, it reveals the cracks in our society. At a larger level, this play is not just limited to an Indian city, as any solo traveler visiting a new country goes through a period of alienation and exile and hence, racism is a question which should be dealt at a larger level.
Trishla Patel while speaking about her own rendezvous with an initial career in law reveals how theatre was her passion and it fulfills her purpose in life. A venture that initially started during her college years just as a passionate calling eventually today has become a mode of storytelling, expression and perhaps, catharsis for several young actors who understand the magic of it. As of now, her team consists of a small group of young actors who are experimenting with this craft, learning and unlearning the various methods of acting and self expression.
Well, theatre anyway is a journey within oneself and creating a space, time and platform for this art form in Mumbai is not easy. Yet Trishla and her team have an infectious, warm and thrilling aura about their craft which makes it a welcoming experience for the audience.
Her co-director Shashank Vishnu Dutt, a man who left a secure HR job to fulfill his passion is also a dynamic storyteller. He has been experimenting with various forms of storytelling art forms and loves to bring life to his characters with amazing panache.
In a nutshell, the entire team is creating their place in Mumbai’s competitive theatre industry and has a unique lesson to teach. To experience this lesson and gaze its impact as every play progresses is an individual experience and memory.