Had a chance to watch a very interesting play called ”Let’s Unpack”, conceived and directed by Meenal Kapoor. Firstly the play is script less. So, in one sense each show is an original and can never be seen again in its entirety. It is delight to watch things shaping impromptu on a stage.

What’s the play about ?

A group of 6 people attend a workshop in which they are bound to stay together for 15 days in complete isolation from the outside world. All that they get is a newspaper, television, gym, a garden, and some personal items that they can carry. There are no rules in this house except that they are pulled into bizarre assignments, intriguing tasks, weird games and complex discussions that force them to peep inside themselves, question their own perspectives and shake hands with their instincts.When they come out of that room nothing outside has changed. But they all have.

There are some innovative elements about this play. It is obvious that when you are playing a role of some character, your own opinions, reflections, thinking comes in the way. If it’s a movie, or rehearsed play, the artist tries to forget himself and completely enters in to the character’s shoes and enacts the way the character would respond. I read years ago, I think it was in Shashi Tharoor’s book,”Show business”,  where he talks about a peculiar situation that stage artists go through. They work very hard to get in to the characters of the script. So, in one sense they try to live somebody else’s life and portray the same on the stage. In one way its good as you leave your self-image and start living multiple lives. But there is a flip side to it. Whenever the actor in his /her personal life reflects on something, there is some confusion. Is he/she responding based on a certain character in a script or Is it her own personal reaction. “Am I feeling like XYZ in that script, or like ABC in this script, or Is this my real self  feeling”, is a question that constantly comes up in their minds.  The book talks about  this constant battle that goes in most of the successful stage artists. Why is this context relevant to this play ?

What’s innovative about this play ?

This is probably the first play I have seen where the artist is given a chance to speak out her real self, i.e in the process of unpacking a specific role in the play, the artist is given a chance to unpack his/her own self that includes prejudices, worries, desires, fiascos, etc. Since it is an impromptu scriptless play, there were quite number of surprise elements to the play. There was an audience participation too that made this play unique.

The play was performed by a theatre group called Saarang and it was their 4th screening of the play. I am sure as they improvise and do a few more shows in Delhi, Kolkata and other places, the play would gain far more traction amongst the theatre lovers.