Salmin Sheriff’s latest play, Soular, delves into pressing topics like patriarchy and gender issues, through dance
Although the play by SAL Productions is a work of fiction, it revolves around two main characters, one of which is a representation of patriarchy and the other is the soul
Deeply rooted in various religious, philosophical and spiritual beliefs, the concept of soul in different cultures and traditions has diverse interpretations of their connection to individuals. When theatre artiste, Salmin Sheriff, noticed that in this era where online communications and virtual experiences have become the new normal; physical interactions and genuine human connections have taken a huge
dip. Among all the existing theories on the soul, the actor is set to introduce a theory of his own in
the form of a play titled Soular, a story of souls.
Although the play by SAL Productions is a work of fiction, it revolves around two main characters, one of which is a representation of patriarchy and the other is the soul. The character representing patriarchy is on a quest to decode what is the soul and they figure that the best way to find out is by talking to the soul itself. Whether the former succeeds in doing so or not is what this story is all about. Talking about the muse behind this production, Salmin, who is the director and playwright of this play, says, “A few years ago when I came across the concept of souls, I did a little introspection on who is this soul and what is it. And all the materials around the soul are a theory, nothing is a fact and hence I came up with my own theory, a play with various narratives on the soul, which also talk about patriarchy and gender issues.”
Questioning the purpose and whether it’s the only entity that can bring harmony and peace in a world, Soular, featuring award-winning dancer Ronita Mookerji, takes one on a soul-searching journey through dance, theatre and film. “This single-act 70-minute show not only boasts on-stage performances but also intersperses the screening of flashbacks in the backdrop along with some contemporary moves, all of which brings this story together,” he reveals.
The script blends with the ground reality of patriarchal oppression and is not just conveyed through dance and masked actors but with films that break away from the monotony of dialogues by showcasing interviews with certain marginalised communities and what people perceive the soul as. “The show begins with a trailer about how mankind first came into existence and how they connected with souls and then the story unfolds where we see a conflict between the two characters,” the creator shares.
The play focuses on different forms of patriarchy and how it creeps into one’s life. “It doesn’t always start off in an oppressive way and can enter disguised as love. Slowly but eventually the relationship turns out to be controlling and suggests a sense of ownership,” says Salmin. Adding to the same, he elaborates, “We
have also included the topic of surveillance and how patriarchy likes to monitor our lives.”
Another important element of the production is the music, which has been specially composed for all the different pieces within the play. “Some of it is familiar sounds and some of it is abstract because the soul is an abstract and intangible element,” he tells us. For costumes, the director decided to provide larger-than-life costumes to the cast so the patriarchal man will look like an authoritarian, wearing robes like that of kings and the soul will sport an abstract and contemporary costume that supports the movement. “The sets have been kept minimal since there is already dance and film in the play,” Salmin says, signing off.
INR 300. June 29, 7.30 pm. At Ranga Shankara, JP Nagar