Canvas work

Trunk Tales: Stories Hidden Out of Sight Hit the Stage in Chandigarh

In her latest production, Trunk Tales, actress Neelam Mansingh Chowdhry assembles fragments of poems, texts and episodes to create a beautiful canvas, giving voice to those whom society has “altered”.

The non-linear play, starring actor Vansh Bhardwaj, explores the politics of water, body, food and gender. Mansingh calls it a work of “fraction”, a mixture of fact and fiction.

“The performance follows the experience of an ordinary person, chronicling the ‘otherness’ present in life and exploring a way to express it. The stories are crafted while acknowledging real events, family histories and personal experiences,” she says.

“Trunk Tales comprises a series of memories, episodes and references, which have been drawn from different sources, from which four distinct stories have evolved. These episodes are about ‘people from nowhere’ – people who don’t don’t really fit in,” she says.

When asked if Mansingh had worked on the script herself, the comedian said: ‘I would say I worked on the script because the script is too big a word to be used for a performance piece not scripted. I took lines from poems written by Omprakash Valmiki, Sudeep Sen, Nandita Haksar, Pablo Neruda, and fragments from Flavors of Nationalism: Recipes for Love, Hate and Friendship by Nandita Haksar and Invisible Men by Nandini Krishnan. They were interspersed with our own experiences, memories and understanding.

The eponymous trunks are an integral part of the piece. “The trunks kept on stage contain stories that need to be told. They have been made invisible for too long,” Mansingh says.

On what was the most difficult aspect of the performance, Bhardwaj, who has been associated with Mansingh for about 20 years, says, “The performance is non-linear and layered. There is no beginning, middle or end. Each story unfolds in 8-10 minutes and after the climax you have to go back to zero. The play is about those who have been “altered” – transgender people, Dalits and child rape victims. »

“I had to develop different body languages ​​and understand the psychology of the characters.”

The 50-minute play, supported by a grant from the Goethe Institute and Ranga Shankara, was digitized by Mansingh’s son, Kabir Singh Chowdhry. His next production is a play by Girish Karnad.

Catch it live

What: Trunk Tales

When: May 4 to 10, from 7 p.m.

Where: Studio Theater, House Number 9, Sector 4

Admission fees: 500, students can pay what they can

For tickets, email: [email protected]