In my last major role as Ibsen's infamous protagonist in an adaptation of 'A Doll's House', I essayed a character who faces an inordinate amount of familial and societal pressure to adhere to gender norms and is restricted at every stage in her life from pursuing her individual aspirations. The appreciation for the role and the play itself was overwhelming. Many in the audience spoke with me afterwards expressing their frustration at what they saw as a significant problem for women, particularly in the South Asian cultural context. Several people talked of their own similar experiences with deep-rooted patriarchy and those of women they were close to. I was not surprised to hear that this was far more common, even in educated, supposedly 'liberal' households here in the Bay Area, than any of us would like to believe. But there were a couple of patrons who pointed out that gender expectations and the limitations around what was considered 'appropriate' extended to men in our society as well. To me, this was a critically important piece of feedback. As a company that aspires to do thought-provoking theatre, it is important for us to present as balanced as perspective on the issues we address as possible and this meant considering the implications of the boundaries within which men operate as well.
Over the next several months, I was in the process of reading multiple scripts to decide upon the play I would be directing next and when I came across 'Dance Like a Man', it immediately struck a chord. As I read it for the first time, I laughed and cried and viscerally experienced the joys and frustrations of the characters Dattani has so insightfully etched. At the center of it all, is the simple need for a man to do that which he loves the most. A need, that unfortunately comes at a great price. Along the way, there is the innocence and promise of young love, the passion and intensity of ambition, the daily resentments and bitterness that build up over the course of a lifetime in a marriage, the sacrifices and compromises that the pursuit of a dream demands. I was inspired, both as an artist and as a human being to bring this touching story to life on stage.
Since then, the journey has been a memorable one in which all sense of time and normalcy was lost. Months and days melted away as the play blossomed from the pages we held in our hands to a living, breathing entity....one which my cast and I all collaborated on together and made our own. What started with hours and hours of intense character analysis and discussion led to grueling but thoroughly enjoyable hours of rehearsals where we all watched concepts and thoughts materialize into an alternate reality we were creating of our own.
Old friends and new have been reunited in this production. I have had the absolute privilege of working with a cast and crew like no other- people that inspire me when I walk into rehearsal every day with their talent, commitment, and dedication. People who have taught me invaluable lessons with their spirit, their sense of humor, their compassion. Walking this path with them has been one of my life's most beautiful experiences. It is my hope that together we will move the audience and once again create that special brand of BAD Company magic that feeds the mind and warms the soul.
– Sindu Singh