Aruna Ganesh Ram’s play ‘Under Pressure’, to be performed at Atta Galatta in Koramangala on February 2, poses some poignant questions on sustainability.

A new immersive play in Bengaluru explores our growing disconnect with nature
Features Theatre Friday, February 01, 2019 - 14:10

“How would you like to be remembered as a species?”

Quite a deep question that would render the opponent speechless at first before they break into half-hearted mumblings and eventually fall silent again.

This is the question that artist Aruna Ganesh Ram’s latest play ‘Under Pressure’ aims to ask. The 90-minute performance is presented by Aruna’s Visual Respiration, an immersive theatre company that was founded in 2012.

“Visual Respiration focuses on creating various experiential encounters for the audience to look at socio-political relevant themes and find ways to engage with it. Over the years we’ve worked with aspects of self-expression, gender and lives of street food vendors,” says Aruna.

The concept of ‘Under Pressure’ came to Aruna after listening to a podcast by writer Amitav Ghosh. “Ghosh asks a very poignant question. What occupies the front page of our newspapers? What interests us as a species? We know climate change is real but why is it not being spoken about in the front pages? It is the job of artists, journalists and poets to speak about the cause. This sparked a very conscious realisation within me,” begins Aruna.

Wanting to explore the growing disconnect with nature further, Aruna gathered together three likeminded performers – Aditya Garg, Asha Ponikiewska and Deepika Chauhan – and the group together filtered down the bigger environmental topic to one question – “How is an individual’s choice affecting the collective relationship with earth? Our process started with a lot of research,” she explains.

The performers, we learn, share a keen and passionate interest in exploring the environment and worked together for about 7 months, talking to researchers, activists, rag pickers and others to understand the broader picture better.

Aruna adds that since there are plenty of ways to find solutions to our problems, the journey cannot be that of a single person. “Therefore, we split the play into three different performances – Earth, Human and Plastics.”

Forming a strange connection with the element of time – past, present and future – ‘Under Pressure’ becomes a performance that questions the way we live and our relationship with nature. “It was interesting to explore the intersection between all three – Earth and Humans; Humans and Plastics; Earth and Plastics. Are we experiencing a connection or is it a growing disconnect?” asks Aruna.

The play’s first section is that of movement, poetry, fluidity and nostalgia while the second portion will question consumerism, vanity and pop culture. ‘Under Pressure’ also features poetry by Gulzar.

“The last portion is about plastics. What happens when plastic enters the food chain? There’s enough evidence to prove we are breathing nano-plastics and consuming micro-plastics. What happens when the plastic human becomes a reality?”

Aruna tells us that the performance does not aim to provide a solution but rather leave the audience with questions. “What could be our signs of hope? We need larger systemic changes to be able to feel environmental consciousness,” she finishes.

‘Under Pressure’ will be performed at Atta Galatta in Koramangala on February 2 at 3.30 pm and 7.30 pm. For tickets, visit bookmyshow.com and insider.in.

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