Sindhu Hegde had always wanted to make a play with an all-female cast. In 2017, when she was participating in a workshop for young theatre directors, actor Shernaz Patel suggested Miro Gavran’s Croatian play, All About Women. Sindhu read it immediately and, despite the geographical distance of the characters, she could easily relate to their emotions. They were neither good nor bad. “They all had shades of grey, which is very colourful,” says Sindhu.

She got the play she was looking for. Her colleague at WeMove Theatre, Abhishek Iyengar, translated the play into Kannada. Sambandhagala Sutta (Around Relationships), directed by Sindhu, has been staged over 15 times across Kannada. According to her, the audience, irrespective of their age or gender, related to the characters in her play just like how she did with the ones in Gavran’s original.

Sindhu is gearing up for the first staging of the play since the pandemic.

Sambandhagala Sutta has five stories, featuring women at different stages of their lives. These stories represent different emotions – friendship, love, infatuation, greed, innocence, and more. “People exhibit different shades of themselves in different situations. They change according to the relationships they are in, the people around them, and other things. We don’t talk about this; we just box them as ‘good people’ or ‘bad people’. So, I wanted to explore the different faces of women in different phases of their life.”

The stories cumulatively feature 15 characters. But – and this is the gimmick of the play – they are played by just three actors. “It was a challenge that I took upon myself. I wanted to show that the same people can play different characters and still manage to look different and evoke different emotions. We just wanted to push ourselves and see if we could pull it off.”

It, however, required a lot of rehearsals, wherein minute details like the material of the props were discussed and debated so the actors using them could get into the skin of their characters.

Sindhu also added an extra layer to the play.  “I have assigned five elements for each story – wind, water, fire, sky, and earth. The elements characterise that particular story. For instance, in a story about children, you can notice costumes representing the sky because, for kids, the sky is the limit. In another story about the animosity between two sisters, fire is the representative element as it signifies anger.”

This, however, is a play that has already been staged over 15 times. To stave off the staleness, Sindhu says she has tweaked the way in which it is staged. “At least 40% of it has changed from what it used to be,” she adds, “It is also because I have changed too. What I was five years ago, I am not that person anymore. That reflects in my direction and staging.”

Sindhu, ever since the play’s debut, notices changes externally too. “Back in 2017, there were very few female directors, in the theatre space, at least in Bangalore. I now see more women directing. We need more of them. Because, now, in cinema and plays, we see more stories about women. And we need women, behind the lens and backstage, to tell these stories. Stories of women can be told effectively by women than men.”

Sambandhagala Sutta (90 minutes) will be staged in Ranga Shankara at 7:30 pm, June 10. Tickets on bookmyshow

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By Dipak

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