The city’s award-winning all women’s troupe, The Creative Arts staged their celebrated play Beyond Borders at the ICCR on 9th February. As the title suggests, the play is about the simultaneous construction and crossing of arbitrary borders, be those geographic or symbolic.
This play does not follow a conventional storyline. It is an aggregation of scenes with surreal touches featuring a vast ensemble cast. At certain points the transition between two scenes becomes disconcerting. However, the audience’s attention is drawn to the whirlwind of emotions portrayed onstage by the skilled actors through poignant dialogue and striking visual imagery which point towards the director, Ramanjit Kaur’s expertise.
The play is set in a refugee camp, the members of which narrate the circumstances that led to their current state. They are divided by their nationalities, language, colour, gender, caste, age, sexuality, as well as their hopes and desires but they are all united in their “refugee” status. The play ends on a hopeful note with the entire cast forming the image of a ship about to set sail, perhaps reiterating the adage “this too shall pass”.
The educated elite that forms the target audience of this trilingual play will fail to relate to some of the scenes. However, we recognise some scenes from our daily lives, like that of the privileged person reading about deaths and atrocities in the morning newspaper with an almost inhuman detachment or the pretty girl inappropriately approached and touched wherever she goes.
In trying to address a multitude of topical issues, Beyond Borders sometimes loses sight of its objective and stretches unnecessarily but it never preaches. The play remains with you even after the curtains are closed.
To the average audience, the stage setting may not hold much importance, but the total aesthetics of it plays a major role in how one views the play. Here, one would raise their hats to the stage designer for pulling off such an intrinsically detailed backdrop.
For example, one may notice a pile of sand containing ruins of a few infant figures onstage. As the title suggests, the play aims to make the audience think beyond set traditional parochial barriers, and the above example passively deals with the practice of female child infanticide that has been going on for decades. On the other hand, although there is a minimalistic use of lighting transitions, it keeps up with the whole backdrop of the refugee camp setting.
Overall, if one has to see a play, such technical details also play a great role in the whole theatre experience and The Creative Arts have not failed to execute a flawless on-stage masterpiece.
-Unmisha Misra and Ayush Biswas