THE INVISIBLE HAND: Cast Photo Shoot

The cast took a break from rehearsals to give you a sneak peak of The Invisible Hand! Photographs by Ashima Yadava. Costumes and makeup by Sindu Singh.

Terrorism Today...and On Stage

 
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At the time of writing this India and Pakistan stand at the brink of war. What triggered this round of hostilities was an act of terrorism at Pulwama in Kashmir, India. A Kashmiri terrorist drove a car loaded with IEDs into a CRPF (Indian paramilitary forces) bus killing 44 soldiers. The terrorist left a video behind claiming allegiance to Jaish-e-Mohammed, a terrorist organization based in Pakistan. After that, the Indian Air Force struck a site in Pakistan followed by the Pakistan Air Force attempting a counter attack in which a fighter plane from each side was downed. At this time, amid accusations and counter-accusations, a global PR battle rages between the two countries.

Someone smart once said "War is the continuation of politics by other means." At BAD Company, while we love to wade into the social issues of the day, we give politics a wide berth. Besides, what we really want to talk about is our upcoming show – Ayad Akhtar's The Invisible Hand– which is not about war. But it is about terrorism.

More precisely, The Invisible Hand is about terrorism in Pakistan. The parallels between life and art – what's playing out on the subcontinent right now, and what you will see on stage later this month – are eerie.

The Invisible Hand is set against the backdrop of rural Punjab (Pakistan). Imam Salem, the character that I play, is the head of a terrorist organization. He is from Bahawalpur, which is the supposed headquarters of the aforementioned Jaish-e-Mohammed. In the play there are repeated mentions of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the terrorist group that claimed responsibility for "26/11" – the November 2008 shootings and bombings in Mumbai that took 170 lives. There are foreign "fighters" coming in to join the jihad in Kashmir. There are American drones. We could go on...but you probably get the point.

Can terrorism be just? If you abhor the taking of innocent lives, no terrorism can be just. But what if the targets of the terrorists are the military, para-military or the police? What if it was in reaction to the oppressive rule of a powerful state? Where is the line between resistance and terrorism?

These are tough questions to answer. But what we do know is that terrorism, like everything, eventually becomes about power and money. The leadership of what once may have been a just cause, now cares less about the cause itself and more about the perpetuation of its power and prestige. And so they keep feeding the beast of terrorism. Violence begets violence. And the cycle continues. 

The Invisible Hand underscores this nexus between money and terrorism in a powerful way. We hope you'll come to see it.

Meanwhile we fervently hope that saner minds prevail and that we avoid war on the subcontinent. FDR said that “War is young men dying and old men talking." Let's hope that the old men at the helm of the two countries talk to each other and stand down their armed forces.

– Basab Pradhan

The Invisible Hand will run from March 22-30 at Sunnyvale Theater. Tickets here.

MOTHER OF 1084 by Mahasweta Devi – Low Res Staged Reading #3

 
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Here’s the next staged reading in our Low Res experimental series – Mother of 1084, written by Ramon Magsaysay Award winner and best-selling author Mahasweta Devi. The reading will be in English. This is a free event.

The reading will take place on Saturday, March 9th at 6:00 PM at our studio in Belmont. Admission is free. RSVP is required to attend. Seating is limited and will be assigned on a first come, first served basis.

If you'd like to reserve a spot at the reading:
1. Please RSVP as early as you can. 
2. You will receive a confirmation email with details within 24-48 hours of signing up.

About the play:

Hajar Churashir Maa (Mother of 1084) centers on the militant communist uprising during the Naxalite agitation, leading to the death of young rebels in Bengal by the Indian government. The story follows a mother when she learns that her Naxalite son was brutally killed by the government and lays dead as corpse no. 1084 at the police morgue. As she attempts to understand her son’s dedication as a rebel, she also realizes her alienation in the corrupt society her son bravely fought against.

Audition Notice - STATE OF DENIAL

 
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Auditions for State of Denial will be held on Sunday, February 24 starting at 8 am in Belmont. An appointment is required. Call backs will be on Sunday, March 3, 8 am to 12 noon. 

To sign up for an audition, please see the instructions below. 

STATE OF DENIAL

Written by Rahul Varma

Directed by Kimberly Ridgeway

6 Performances: June 6–15, 2019

Sunnyvale Theater


Odette, a young filmmaker, travels to Turkey to investigate stories of genocide for an upcoming film. When she interviews Sahana, an elderly Muslim woman who has spent her life assisting survivors of the Armenian genocide, she learns a devastating secret that she resolves to share with the world at any cost, even if it means revealing her own shocking secret.

Roles

Odette: Female, 25-40 (can play African, African-American descent). Rwandan born, Canadian citizen. Focused and dedicated researcher and filmmaker, who is harboring a secret of her own. She is determined to expose a truth, even if it means revealing her own secret.

Ismat: Female, 20s-30s (can play Middle Easterner). Canadian citizen of Turkish origin. Intelligent and strong, but faces pain and confusion in learning truths concerning her family.

Sahana: Female, 50s-70’s (can play Middle Easterner). A very sympathetic Armenian woman who has spent her life assisting survivors of the Armenian genocide, and who is harboring a deep secret. She is reserved and calculated in what information she reveals, and when.

Sinam: Female, 19-29 (can play Middle Easterner). Mother to be. She loses the love of her life and her family to the Armenian genocide. She is determined to survive and protect her unborn child by any means necessary.

Zohrab: Male, 19-29 (can play Middle Easterner). Father to Sinam’s unborn child. Strong, loving, Loyal. Willing to sacrifice himself for what is right.

Cleric/Hakan/Khatra: Male, 25-40 (can play Middle Easterner). Three different characters, with traits that include authoritative, ridged, protective, angry, apathetic, and diabolical.

Reid Cooper: Male, 40-60. A Canadian diplomat. Strong and opinionated, but compassionate.

Instructions

Please click here to fill out the audition form. After you have submitted your audition form, you will receive a confirmation email with a specific time-slot for your audition. Prepare a 1-2 minute dramatic monologue which shows a range of emotions and includes movement. If shortlisted, you will be provided with sides from the play for the Callbacks on March 3.

Rehearsals begin April 15, 2019. All rehearsals will be held at our studio in Belmont. Technical rehearsals (mandatory and non-negotiable dates) will be held from 5 pm to 11 pm on June 3, 4 and 5.

For all questions, please email kimberly.ridgeway@yahoo.com. 








GREATER THAN Gets Noticed

We like famous people. Especially when they tweet about our show!

Greater Than got noticed by Gretchen Carlson, the former news anchor who was harassed at Fox News and stood up to Roger Ailes. Her new book Be Fierce, is about her own story of sexual harassment and the stories of many other women who refuse to be intimidated.

And then it was the turn of Anna Deavere Smith, actor and writer…who can forget her from West Wing, the best political drama ever.

Maureen Dowd, our favorite New York Times columnist also picked up on the show and retweeted about it.

And that’s not all. Coming up, is a segment on NBC in December and a feature in the Mercury News. We’ll let you know when they happen.

GREATER THAN: Cast Photo Shoot

The cast took a break from rehearsals for an evening for a photo shoot. The talented photographer is our friend Kush Patel

SONATA Backstage Photos

Our very own Kush Patel, who also did sound for Sonata, took these brilliant photos backstage and in the lobby.

SONATA Tech Photo Shoot

Photos from yesterday's Technical Rehearsal. In case you're wondering who's playing what role, remember that we have two casts. Photo credit: Adam Pardee

Aruna's Sonata

 
Anindita Mukherjee as ARUNA. PC: Ashima Yadava

Anindita Mukherjee as ARUNA. PC: Ashima Yadava

 

Most of us make many friends throughout the course of our lives. With the advent of social networks like Facebook and Whatsapp, the total friend tally may rank in the hundreds, and for some in the thousands. However, there is that select handful of friends we invariably turn to when we need a shoulder to lean on or simply to reminisce.  With respect to this category of friends, the words of the famous author Judy Blume especially ring true, “We are friends for life. When we’re together the years fall away. Isn’t that what matters? To have someone who can remember with you? To have someone who remembers how far you’ve come?”

Mahesh Elkunchwar’s  play Sonata, is a tribute to this bond of friendship that binds three women, Aruna, Dolon and Subhadra. The play gives us a glimpse into a mundane Sunday evening in the lives of these friends. As the evening progresses and the conversation flows with the wine, we get to know the friends better.  Their shared history, idiosyncrasies, aspirations, fears, failures and vulnerabilities are revealed through clever, witty dialogue laden with innuendo. The play is bold yet sensitive. The characters are complex, flawed, real and lovable and are bound to resonate with the audience.

I will be essaying the role of Aruna Ranade, a no-nonsense Sanskrit professor. From the very first time that I read the script, I was impressed that the play is centered around an unconventional and underrepresented demographic in popular media.  I was even more surprised to learn that the play was written in 2001. Barring the occasional frivolous Hollywood film based on the exploits of “BFFs” on their girls’ night out or a wild vacation, the lives of strong, independent women in their 40’s has not really been a topic explored in meaningful literary works.

As the rehearsals progressed, the underlying layers started to peel away and I was blown away by the depth of the dialogues. I was able to relate to all three women in varying degrees.  I could see shades of their persona reflected in myself. I felt I have walked in their shoes at different points in my own life.

To me, Aruna, Dolon and Subhadra are metaphors for the three parts of a Sonata.  Different as they are, when they come together, they form a rich and beautifully textured melody that is bound to linger in the minds of the audience.

Aruna, the consummate professor, is guilty of speaking in quotes and I would be remiss if I did not share one in conclusion.

“The strong bond of friendship is not always a balanced equation; friendship is not always about giving and taking in equal shares. Instead, friendship is grounded in a feeling that you know exactly who will be there for you when you need something, no matter what or when.” - Simon Sinek

Cheers to friends, old and new!

– Anindita Mukherjee