Whether in Silicon Valley or Bangalore, the major orbits in a typical technology professional’s galaxy are made up of career, commute, family and a bit of unwinding on weekends. My tech fraternity no doubt includes some shining stars that strive to make an impact on society and give back to their communities. Consequently, we see no dearth of charity events such as 5Ks, half marathons and other similar fundraisers. In the current, highly charged sociopolitical climate, protest marches have also pulled in a lot of people expressing their discontent over the issues of our times. However, when it comes to taking on the role of a change agent, one who dares to attempt triggering a significant shift in societal mindsets, I’ve observed a notable lack of enthusiasm among my peers. Individual interest in deeply influencing the way society operates at both macro and micro levels, is grossly lacking in the world we inhabit.
Rahul in Not Equal To embodies that archetypal technology professional. He is smart, ambitious, intelligent and goodhearted, but his philanthropic efforts are confined to writing a check in December to what he considers a ‘deserving’ cause. Probe him further on conventional norms, particularly the oppressive kind, and he responds with “Come on! It’s been this way for years.” As a techie myself, getting into and under this character’s skin has been a fascinating journey. While he can charm you, amuse you and make you care for him, Rahul simultaneously holds up a mirror to each of us and sends a loud and unmistakable message. My hope is that watching him will kindle the potential within each of us to combat our inertia.
Brilliantly etched as he is, Rahul is only one of the many multi-faceted characters in Not Equal To. At the initial play reading, I was entirely consumed by the script, its thrilling plot, impeccable attention to detail and overarching edginess. It was only when I started driving home did the deeper layers begin to unravel in my mind. Not Equal To raises a lot of important questions - the balance between the creation and distribution of wealth, the exploitation of the knowledge worker underclass vs. the trickle down benefits of expansion and development and the various forms of individual dissent and organized protest, the merits of which are clearly debatable at best. The play also does a stellar job of turning gender stereotypes on their heads. I have no doubt that questions around each of these issues will emerge in audience members’ minds after they’ve had a chance to digest the thrills and high-octane drama.
And this unique combination continues to be Bay Area Drama Company’s greatest strength. While their plays guarantee a riveting time inside the theatre, the subjects they choose to tackle give audiences so much more to walk away with. What each of us decides to do with it is entirely our prerogative but their plays make a sincere effort to plant a seed. For me, BAD Company’s platform is that sweet spot between my love for acting and the desire to make an impact on the world around me. I applaud my peers who choose other avenues to express themselves, but I hate running, so running for a cause is simply not for me and I cannot get myself to march for hours and yell out slogans loudly, so protests aren’t for me either. As an actor, I feel deeply empowered to be able to use the stage as a platform to make myself heard and hopefully make a difference!