Hello and welcome to the October edition of The Script. Unfortunately we couldn’t send out the last three issues as we were undergoing some restructuring of the magazine. Presenting to you a slightly modified, slightly codified (literally, we had to do some coding for the plug ins), and slightly simplified version of the long running - QTP’s The Script! We hope you enjoy the new avatar and do share your thoughts, suggestions, feedback with us.
In case you are accessing this on your mobile device, you might want to change to the desktop view. And you definitely want to explore the drop down menu.
This month’s issue brings back all the regular columns. Dolly Thakore on her recent stint at the NSD, Akarsh’s troupe constantly on the move, Gitanjali on Peele Scooter Wala Aadmi and our dear friend Daniel Bye on his month-long spell at the EdFringe. Coming Up highlights a few of the shows this month and all the Opportunities in one place for those itching to do more than just watch a play! You can also catch up on all the QTP and Thespo updates now and do drop us a line if you hear of anything interesting coming up in November.
As we were putting together this issue last week, we kept getting distracted by very disturbing news about Agnes of God (by Poor Box Productions and scheduled to premiere on Monday 5 October at the NCPA). It is being plagued by a quasi-religious, quasi-political and quasi-fanatical “NGO” claiming that the play offends the religious sentiments of Christians. There is an appeal circulating to ban the play which cites many reasons, of which here are three:
- The size of the advertisement itself was threatening and showed the monies and the influential forces involved.
- Is Indian society ready to open a Pandora's box and open the floodgates of filth, with the play, Agnes of God being used to set a precedent?
- Even if a true story, can such plays / films on exceptions be shown to negate what the religion actually is?
In the words of Aaron Sorkin, “I think more and more we have come to expect less and less of each other”. I believe our audiences are intelligent enough to distinguish an anomaly to the norm; are confident enough in their own faith to respect that of others; and are articulate enough to voice their own opinions once they have watched the play for themselves.
The appeal is a very tenuous web of outlandish reasons which, I suspect, have their roots in ignorance about what the play is really about. Distributed by Joseph Dias of the Catholic Secular Forum, the appeal has (surprisingly) found some traction and there are meetings and hearings being lined up as we speak. Maybe it is not so surprising given the current national climate and the momentum that banning “offending” items has gained. As preposterous as the appeal is, it stands to reason that it will be taken seriously. This year itself, we have read shocking news about the Tamilian writer Perumal Murugan being forced to withdraw his books and the Malayalam scholar M M Basheer’s column being stopped as he belonged to a different religion from his subject matter. Both these writers have put away their quills for good and only in time will generations realise their loss. But the most tragic manifestation of intolerance is the cold blooded murder of Kannada scholar and rationalist M M Kalaburgi in his own home. We have become a nation of violent intolerance. Our literary and artistic community is expected to create and thrive in the face of bans and death threats and bon fires of their work. People are easily offended and total annihilation seems to be the only solution.
We hope the theatre community (including you) will rally behind Agnes of God, and every other creative initiative that is not allowed expression. We hope that you will fight for your right to access all art and even be offended. And we definitely hope that you will value your responsibility to be tolerant of diversity.