The fourth edition of Erotica by CAT exclusively focuses on LGBTQIA+ stories

The four different plays by four directors highlight the queerer side of Chennai 
Erotica by Chennai Art Theatre
Erotica by Chennai Art Theatre

Imagine William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet on stage. During Juliet’s dramatic speech, she confesses to Romeo that she doesn’t love him; instead, she is attracted to another girl! Similarly, Brutus of Julius Caesar and Antonio of The Merchant of Venice can also be depicted with different sexual orientations. These flights of imagination are part of a modern-day adaptation of the 15th century-old narrative as One Chinna Change — a play by Theatre Mirrors that is set to stage this weekend at The Medai in Alwarpet.

Still from the play <em>One Chinna Change</em>
Still from the play One Chinna Change

The play along with three other short stories, To Love Is To... by V Balakrishnan, About Last Night by Denver Anthony Nicholas and Under 18 Adult Stories by John Pradeep Jl, are part of the fourth edition of Erotica by Chennai Art theatre exclusively focusing on LGBTQIA+ stories coinciding with Pride Month in the UK.

Directed by Navaneeth and Akilesh Ravi, the 18-minute-long play, One Chinna Change tries to bring a fresh perspective to the iconic text by Shakespeare. “We have grown up with the idea that heterosexual society is normal but we wanted to think how it would be if we thought from the perspective of the queer community,” says the writer of the play Aarthi Sri, who finished the script in 24 hours.

Similarly, To Love Is To… also dives into the dilemma of ‘to love or not to love’ through an ancient story from the Mahabharata. Staging a scene from V Balakrishnan’s old play The Curse of Urvashi, the 15-minute story tries to focus on the idea of boundary-less love between two women performed by Aparna Kumar and Meera Sitaraman. “A story told truthfully will break taboos or at least challenge them,” says Bala (as he is popularly known), when asked if he was apprehensive of taking up a subject that still hasn’t found its free space in our society.

<em>A scene from To Love Is To…</em>
A scene from To Love Is To…

On the other hand, Denver Anthony Nicholas, director of the third story About Last Night isn’t attempting to bring out any message from the play and says, “I don’t think I am qualified to stand on a public forum and say what’s right and wrong.” Written by Shruti Parasuraman, the 18-minute-long play is about a same-gender relationship where two men, Arjun and Neil played by Denver and Craig Lobo, navigate their sexualities and the challenges of coming out.

A scene from<em> About Last Night</em>
A scene from About Last Night

Bringing in some reality bites and deeply personal aspects is John Pradeep JL’s play Under 18 Adult Stories — the reminiscence of an underaged boy and his several abusers. The play promises to challenge and question the preconceived ideas about heterosexual men and gay men. Interestingly, these stories are not adapted from any existing text but were part of John’s life for most of his childhood.

A scene from <em>Under 18 Adult Stories</em>
A scene from Under 18 Adult Stories

“I was a silent boy and lived a phase when I was abused multiple times by different men. I want to convey that they weren’t intentionally wrong but things weren’t in their control and I was an easy target,” says John and adds that the play will surely force the audience to think about who is an actual abuser and a victim.

February 19 & 20. 4 pm and 7 pm.

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