Erotica by Chennai Art Theatre furthers the conversation of carnal desires, gender discrimination and erotic experiences

Four short plays, Erotica by Chennai Art Theatre highlights how intimate encounters lead to emotional trajectories of sorts
Still from short play The Last Song
Still from short play The Last Song

Although there is very little space for discourse on sexual discovery in our society, an evening of Erotica by Chennai Art Theatre (CAT) is all set to further the conversation of carnal desires, gender discrimination and erotic experiences with four short plays. Titled, Three And Then Some (English), The Last Song (Tamil), Tinder Me Not (English) and Pen’ in Vilai Enna (Tamil) the plays will be staged at Medai — The Stage in Alwarpet.

Written and directed by Ashmita Chhabria and Mrittika Chatterjee, Three And Then Some chronicles the experience of three individuals who get together for an intimate night and indulge in a ménage a trois. “We aimed at looking at the emotional aspects of sharing a physical experience and how the verbalisation shapes our memory of it,” says Ashmita, who along with other directors of the plays spoke to us earlier this week. “We have attempted to chart out the journeys of self-discovery through intimate encounters that one experiences while doing what they like,” says Mrittika. 

Starting a discourse

The second play, The Last Song by Praveen Kumar is set in an ancient brothel that’s been turned into a forbidden bungalow and used by a blind singer who gets into a relationship with the in-house spirits. This bizarre situation staged in this 16-minute-long play has an interesting mix of farce comedy and eroticism. “The intention is to make people laugh at something that most people think they can’t laugh at,” says Praveen, adding that the three-member cast was ready for stage in two weeks with live singing and pre-recorded music.

Shravan Ramakrishnan’s 20-minutes-long play Tinder Me Not sets the tone for a woman-centric exploration of sexuality with the next few minutes bringing to fore many questions that haven’t been discussed before. Set in the time of dating apps, the play addresses questions like woman’s pleasure, sexual desires and the patriarchal setup that secludes women from owning their right for sexual pleasure. “It’s important to talk about it and not brush these conversations under the carpet. I have been contemplating doing this play for a long time and it’s finally here,” says Shravan.

Still from Pen’ in Vilai Enna rehearsal
Still from Pen’ in Vilai Enna rehearsal

Playing with metaphors

What if a pen could come alive and talk about its perspectives about life? The pen played by Pragathi Shankar is a metaphorical representation of a human in writer-director Navneeth’s play, Pen’ in Vilai Enna. The play highlights the importance of discourse around sexual life and intimate relationships. “It’s high time we normalise talking about our sexuality that is taboo within society,” says Navneeth of Mirrorz theatre group. The 13-minute long play, involves action and movements choreographed by Akilesh and Yegnaraman against the backdrop of pre-recorded music. 

While the plays tackle hard-hitting subjects, which have always been under the scrutiny of society, the directors tell us that they have not compromised on their craft and presentation, “But the performances are not meant to be extremely explicit,” assures B Charles of CAT.

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