Five different directors will bring one vision to life alongside an impressive ensemble cast of more than 20 on stage, taking audiences on a whirlwind journey through snippets of eight different plays from eight different playwrights in Yatra, which will play at TAPAC from 1 to 10 October. Each tale ventures into different time periods in the Indian subcontinent, featuring works from various genres and regions in India. 

Prayas, who have become known for their poignant works that have challenged, explored and pioneered, mark 15 years as a company. 

“Prayas was always more than a theatre group, even back in those early years. Those of us, who found our way to it, had individual ideas. We were bold enough to challenge our own archetypes. We went to places that made us uncomfortable. We unwrapped the migrant angst—the feeling of belonging or not (Swabhoomi, Khoj). We told the shocking story about Indian women who take up mourning and wailing for the dead as a profession to feed their living (Rudali). We staged anarchy through poetry (Tasher Desh). We showcased history (Dara) and presented folk theatre (Charandas Chor). We made our audiences laugh (Love N Stuff), and then we made them cry (A Fine Balance). Sometimes we did all of this in one show (First World Problems)” – Prayas Co-Founder, Sudeepta Vyas.

Yatra, which roughly translates to journey, resonates with Prayas and each director who all have their long history and journey with the organisation. The large cast and crew come together to celebrate this impressive fifteen-year milestone with their most ambitious show to date, bringing together eight different worlds that will transport the audiences across time and space, from a South Indian village in the 1970s to a London grocery shop in the present day, to the Taj Mahal in the 1600s.

Sananda Chatterjee, who has been with the company since 2005 turns her sights towards Associate Producing for Yatra and is also directing Ten Ton Tongue, a monologue from Shards by Gautam Raja about a woman’s experience of sexual assault. While Sneha Shetty, who has performed in various Prayas productions, and makes her debut as Assistant Director for Yatra and Director of Aurat (by political theatre-maker Safdar Hashmi)—a short piece about the patriarchy and how it affects women through different stages of life.

Co-Founder of Prayas Amit Ohdedar directs two works, Keats was a Tuber by playwright Poile Sengupta and Harlesden High Street by Abhishek Majumdar. Keats was a Tuber is a satirical story set in an English department of an Indian college (university), which questions the relevance and ownership of English in a post-colonial context. Harlesden High Street is a poetic piece about migrant stories and journeys, seen through the eyes of a Pakistani family running a grocery shop in London.

Rishabh Kapoor, who has previously acted with Prayas, directs Water/Thaneer Thaneer, which looks at water scarcity and political corruption in rural South India in the 1970s, offering a peek into what feels like a dystopian setting from playwright Komal Swaminathan. Rishabh also directs I Really Want to Meet God from Shashikant Tasgaonkar, an absurdist piece that takes audiences into the world of two housekeepers, who have never met the owner of the home they look after.

First-time Prayas director and past Prayas actor Aman Bajaj takes the helm of Know the Truth and The Guards at the Taj. Set in a newsroom, Know the Truth is a satire by award-winning playwright and journalist Manjula Padmanabhan that explores the dangers of propaganda. The Guards at the Taj is a multi-award-winning comedy from Rajiv Joseph, about two imperial guards guarding the Taj Mahal as it is being built but are being forbidden from looking at it. 

Supporting the production is producer Ahi Karunaharan, lighting designer Calvin Hudson, set designer Natasha Iyer, sound designer Ritesh Vaghela, with costume and makeup by Padma Akula and marketing by Alisha Iyer.

YATRA plays from 1 to 10 October
Tuesday to Friday, 7.30 p.m.
Saturday 3.30 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Sunday at 3.30 p.m.

TAPAC, 100 Motions Rd, Pt Chevalier
Tickets: $25 - $30
Bookings at https://www.tapac.org.nz/whats-on/yatra-prayas
https://prayas.co.nz/