The afternoon sessions saw vibrant discussions and performances at NCPA and Prithvi Theatre
Large crowds thronged the two iconic venues of The Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest to catch some of their favourite authors and experts on several riveting topics. In a performance that enthralled the audience, performer Erika Batdorf, single-handedly took them through her life by depicting three individual characters and their separate stories in a session called ‘Poetic License’. She began as one character in a classroom who is looking for the elusive feeling of happiness, then switches to the character’s sister who is bed-ridden in a hospital. She depicted the sister with nuance as she communicated her desire to be free of her bed and her helplessness to not be able to do so. Erika then transforms into the two characters’ mother, and touched the audience’s hearts by delivering a heart-felt monologue where she addressed her daughters to not lose hope in life. This powerful performance challenged the audience to examine their desires in the context of eternity.
At Prithvi Theatre, a thought provoking discourse called the ‘Epidemic of Entitlement’ was conducted by Dr. Shyam Bhat. He analysed the genesis of entitlement in our society and raised questions such as “Who am I?” and “What gives me self-worth?” Dr. Bhat linked globalisation, instant gratification through internet and the rise of individualism to the higher levels of stress in our society. He asked the audience to introspect why there is so much pain in our society that has led to suicide rates amongst the age group of 15-29 to be the highest in the world. For a truly stress-free existence, Dr. Bhat provided a key advice, saying “It is easy to be Buddha in the forest, we have to be Buddha in the city.”
In another session at Prithvi Theatre, ‘Instant Feedback’, writer and performer Daniel Bye, independent multi-disciplinary theatre maker Nassim Soleimanpour and Gateway Theatre’s Artistic Director, Simon Choa-Johnston, discussed how to write plays specifically for a live audience. They discussed the current norm where audience have very limited contact with performers in a play and put forward ideas that can make the performance interactive.
‘Waxing Eloquent’, a session at NCPA saw author Chetan Bhagat sit down with writer Aparna Piramal Raje to discuss his latest book, ‘One Indian Girl’. Mr. Bhagat discussed the evolving definitions of feminism and the need for women to have equal access to opportunities. He also debated on the changing power structures in the Indian society and the notions of an “ideal” man and woman.
NCPA also saw ‘India is a wonderfully crazy place’, a session panelled by writer Carlo Pizzati, author Collen Taylor Sen, journalist John Zubrzycki and chaired by radio presenter and journalist, Mae Mariyam Thomas. They discussed what brought them to India and what mesmerised them in the country. Mr. Zubrzycki answered the question on what drew him to India by saying, “The anarchy and organic essence of the country.” The panellists found consensus in the definition of ‘crazy’ by putting forward India’s quality of insatiable desire, energy and chaos that appealed to all of them. The panel also discussed the challenges of writing within the Indian framework, while Ms. Thomas summarised the discussion by saying, “India wouldn’t be India if it wasn’t a little crazy!”
The evening session at Tata Literature Live! The Mumbai LitFest will continue to put across several invigorating ideas and captivating performances.
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