We are just over two years old as a theatre company. Free Outgoing will be our seventh production. Of those seven, five, including Free Outgoing, were scripts that we selected from the dozens we considered. How did we go about choosing our plays?
We watch a lot of theatre and read many, many scripts. Many plays are very good but not our kind of theatre. We favor meaningful theatre – stories that carry themes that address a contemporary social issue. And we prefer our plays to be about real people that our audiences can relate to.
Free Outgoing is just such a play.
Smartphones in the hands of teenagers who are discovering themselves and their sexuality and have access to the internet and social media are inevitably going to lead to incidents – photos or videos out on the internet that these teenagers later regret. Society hasn’t yet figured out how to deal with these increasingly frequent incidents. Too often shame and ridicule are heaped on young people, destroying their lives forever.
Free Outgoing, is a story about such an incident in Chennai, India. A high school girl has sex with her boyfriend at school. The boyfriend makes a video and sends it to a friend. The video goes viral. The way the school, the neighborhood, the media and the nation respond is very characteristic of an Indian society that is dealing with rapid urbanization and culture clash. But the knee jerk response of an Indian city is not too far from the cyberbulling and slutshaming that we may have seen in the United States in the wake of such an incident.
Anupama Chandrasekhar, the playwright, has done a masterful job with the play. The characters feel very believable. And she has made some very interesting choices with the plot. The play is entirely about how the girl’s family – widowed mother and younger brother – deal with the incident. The video is never enacted, only referred to.
I saw Free Outgoing in 2015 performed in Bangalore. It was directed by Mahesh Dattani, (a favorite of BAD Company– we have done two of his plays so far). Sometimes we agonize over the decision of whether to include a play in our season or not. This was not one of those times.
– Basab Pradhan, Director of FREE OUTGOING