This is a theatre performance. A selfish one, to be very honest (sarcasm). The artist is a pessimist and knows that the world is ending. To be very blunt, people will die. And, she is out on a quest to find “Plan B/C/D/E” to save her beloved Mumbai, and everything which she associates with the city. At least, most of it.
A theatre performance called “Plan B/C/D/E”, written-improvised-perfomed-(produced) by Meghana T, through her company, “Tafreewale”. Here she is to share our anxieties and come up with some bizarre ways to tackle climate change! All of them to save Mumbai. Meghana, a theatre practitioner from Mumbai. Interestingly, this is an improvised play, in theatre of the oppressed style. Hence, relies on the remarks and insights of the audience. I went for the show at Bangalore Creative Circus (BCC). People joined slightly later than the allotted time due to early morning drizzle, and Bangalore’s infamous traffic. Meghana welcomed them with some heartfelt humour layered with sarcasm. This tonality lingered all throughout the play.
The news on extreme weather events is a very common occurrence. As per a report by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), India witnessed these events for more than 300 days in 2022. But, there is a certain feeling of helplessness or pessimism which seeps in when we see the news on heatwaves, sinking cities, droughts, or incessant rainfall leading to floods, or wildfires. We also think, what can we do to save whatever have? Will the bamboo toothbrush help, or carrying a non-plastic bottle change the fate of the climate? Or do we just think as if we’re the only one who has read about sustainable development in the school textbooks? The above-mentioned feeling is mostly described as, “climate anxiety or eco-anxiety”.
As per Harvard Health Publishing, climate anxiety or eco-anxiety is:
“the feeling of distress and worry about the effects of climate change and the uncertainty about the future”.
However, these definitions are boring and inaccessible for most parts. They don’t encapsulate what we feel beyond the jargon. Hence, plays like these make this jargon accessible, and enjoyable. As Meghana says, this is her way to contribute to the fight against climate change as a theatre artist. Climate change is by far one of the most pertaining issues, and we have to come together to fight against it.
Art, and the artist
Generally, the expectation from a theatre performance is of a stage, lights, and camera. However, here it had a normal setting, rather not so normal, with a presentation slide in the background and a few chairs arranged for the audience. This feeds into the curiosity of what to expect.
The artist, Meghana, after completing her under graduation in Mumbai went to Prague to study theatre. The credentials of being an international theatre boasts about at least five times in the play, whimsically. Meghana explains climate change, and why should we worry about it. Also, the emphasis is that her mother is a geography teacher, so she knows what she is talking about. More than heatwaves, she cares about rising sea levels as that impacts her beloved Mumbai.
As per reports, Mumbai would submerge in the high-emission scenario by the end of the century. By mid-century, some parts of Mumbai would be underwater. She called it ‘reclamation’, or ‘ghar vapasi’. How and why? You’ll know when you see the play. She wants Chowpatty and Juhu to survive. She wants her favourite food places to migrate, if possible. I am not from Mumbai. But, I care because she does. However, when someone asks, ‘Why should I help you save Mumbai’. She innocently replies this is a deal. You help me save Mumbai. I help you save your ‘Bangalore’.
There are plans. Mostly bizarre, like mangrove walls, or … you’d know when you see the play. All of them are discussed in depth and with utmost earnestness. These conversations are light, satirical, and for the most part dealing with a very serious issue of climate change. Meghana engages the audience in a witty and thought-provoking performance. In a sense, it forces us to have a conversation on climate change which we’d retain, and propagate.
However, what will happen to the lesser privileged?
Throughout the show, it becomes apparent that the performance’s purpose was not to devise a plan to save Mumbai. Instead, it aimed to bring the looming climate crisis to a very personal level, fostering a sense of connection among the audience. Meghana, driven by climate anxiety, utilised her artistic talents to engage individuals from diverse backgrounds. Furthermore, encourages them to harness their expertise and generate effective, individualised solutions for combating the crisis.
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