Swiss director Corrine Maier explores how this close-knit unit is changing today, in Past is Present
Loud declamations and posturing will be markedly absent in the play coming to Adishakti today. Rather, you’ll find a non-actor playing himself, exploring what makes his family representative of a global scenario. “My family is spread across five countries and a personal conflict a few years ago got me interested in exploring, on film, questions like what is family today and how distance affects it,” says filmmaker Shaheen Dill-Riaz, explaining how, though he’d started shooting it, the film never happened. A year later, Swiss director Corinne Maier, who’d “helped him write the film treatment”, decided she’d use the footage in a documentary theatre project on families that she wanted to do.
Now, having performed 27 shows in the last three years, the German play, Past is Present (translated into English) is touring India. A new genre for many, documentary theatre—which uses photos, video projections and narratives—blurs the lines between fact and fiction. “In the play, Shaheen as a filmmaker is observing real situations and, at a second level, we are observing Shaheen observing his realities. It’s rare to get this second level, which tells not just the subject, but about the form itself,” says Maier.
To aid the introspective nature of the 90-minute performance, Maier roped in actor Anne Haug. In fact, the play opens with just her—looking at the footage from Shaheen’s life, “playing the role of a narrator,” she says. Striking a chord everywhere it has been performed, Dill-Riaz adds he is excited to see what the Indian audiences think of it, since they are familiar with the socio-cultural background of his family.
Today and tomorrow, at 7 pm, at Adishakti. Details: 0413 2622287
—Surya Praphulla Kumar