Myth of Social Media / Gouri Nilakantan

The world is nothing but staged, we are living each day rehearsed in our make believe world of happiness and tears and enjoying the facades of living the “real- unreal”. I see this anomaly of the world depicted every minute in the social construct of a demonic, hedonistic, ‘practiced everyday journal keeping’ of facebook and twitter.

This self indulging practice that we are consumed with, becomes thus our daily practice show, our daily practice rehearsal, and our daily practice “for viewership and arduous, colossal, consumerism”.

We are therefore living in our own moments of suspended disbelief, where we see ourselves as the ‘heroes of change’, ranging writing words of protests; enjoying the moments of glory in well taken pictures of the rising sun; or the intense moments of rising passion through well documented pictures of the white marbled Taj in pale white moonlight.

Yet, despite all these “high moments”, why do we feel alone?Why do we cry ourselves to sleep? Why do we constantly check the messages of that unknown stranger on facebook through the night? My answer might seem simplistic, the answer is nothing but the “untruth of reality”.

When we realize that we are creating our own make believe script, that is false, and that strangers on facebook might cease to be the “ideal” guy or girl we so desperately need; our myths are broken. When we see that these myths are broken we are only foolish to create more; we reuse our old photos for more such destroying social interactions.

Let us for one moment only, see this as stages of representations – as we are only actors doing functionary parts of the unwritten and anonymous text of facebook and twitter. We might cease not to laugh along with that ‘unknown stranger’ who we take to bed with us, without the feelings of being in an adulterous relationship, or even without a sense of a single minute of pride of feeling an intimate part of being a part of a stranger’s life. We are not strangers to others but to ourselves.

This terrible system of social media that we have created is only for our own downfall and decay. It’s time now to become real, to remove masks, to meet and greet the living and mourn for the living dead. Let us not get wasted by looking at the keyboard, and creating our downfall and realize the folly before we become strangers to ourselves. One never knows, one day we might not even see our own eyes and not even know for whom we are laughing or for whom we should cry. Let us, my dear friend, ourselves, only cry for ourselves today.

James Graham’s PRIVACY Director: Ajay Khatri

Playwright: James Graham

Director: Ajay Khatri

Group: N.S.D. Diploma Production, New Delhi

Language: Hindi

Duration: 1 hr

The Play

The play Privacy is a story of a writer who is hiding all these years in her shell. She’s afraid of coming out in public and the social media. Heartbroken and after having a deep interaction with a psychoanalyst, she is determined to take on the world. She wants to write a play, meet new people, interact and experience their lives. Through the process of meeting she is introduced to the social media and technologies and learns how they are involved in surveillance. She unveils and reveals herself to society and ends up meeting someone similar.

Director’s Note

During my training in Direction at National School of Drama I tried exploring a new language of theatre in the contemporary world. Since past few years, I have been fascinated with technology, media and re-invention in theatre. In this era of globalization, I strive to locate a language that is mutually complementary to masses – as viewers and we as artists.

My interest in privacy and surveillance dates back to graduation days. Initially, social media always intrigued me instigating thoughts to question the way it interfered with our lives. I have extracted the recollections of collective impressions made on me in all these years in the play – Privacy.

This adaptation of the play involves gender inequality and how our society reacts to privacy and surveillance predominantly, of females begins from birth, continue into her teens till she matures. Then her next ‘milestone’ is when she belongs to the watchful eyes of her husband’s family. The unstated social activities and other social elements intrude and lay claim on her life. Through this narrative / performance, we try to express and understand how a hitherto unknown woman protects her privacy from being waylaid by agents of society. Though it is strange and difficult for anybody to firstly realize and then accept that there are now new weapons and systems being engaged to trap, track and control targets especially those considered disruptive by society which is also the State.  Our social, economic and political leanings are trapped by and handcuffed in a technologically – driven society. Surveillance is meant to intrude upon and deny privacy- a person struggles for his personal expression and existence amidst it’s, all pervasive and overpowering presence in our lives.

Violence erupts and flourishes to stop or counter state sponsored hostility. The State wields a powerful backup or ‘in the wings’, weapon of sophisticated technology-driven surveillance; destroying and disrupting natural human passages of vent: behavior, emotions, social, work, family or relationships. When an individual’s surveillance is used unopposed against his/ her/ or their own will.

The Director

Ajay Khatri is a graduate from National School of Drama. He is instrumental in guiding theater workshops and instilling these with creative energy befitting young independent theatre aspirants and groups, school, colleges and NGOs. Starting his journey in 2005 as director he presented: Surya Ki Antim Kiran Se Surya Ki Pehli Kiran Tak, Yayati, Illa, Komal Gandhar. He has worked and designed lights in national projects such as Othello, Comedy of Terrors, and Arjun Partigya among other experimental exploratory pieces include: Saturday Night and Privacy.

The Playwright

James Graham (born 1982) is a British playwright, television writer and actor. His work has been staged throughout the UK, at theatres including the Bush, Soho Theatre, Clwyd Theatr Cymru and the National Theatre. He was discovered by, and has been a playwright – in – residence at, the Finborough Theatre.

He wrote the script for the film X+Y, which premiered in 2015. He has written The Culture, This House, Labour of Love, Little Madam,  The Whiskey Taster, The Vote, Finding Neverland, The Men and Sixty – Six Books among several others. His play Privacy had its world premiere at the Donmar Warehouse, London.

The Group

This play is being presented as a part of National School of Drama’s graduate showcase (class of 2018), which aims to provide a platform for emerging theatre practitioners, allowing them to share their work with a wider audience.

Cast & Credits

On Stage: Meenakshi Thapa, Sanjeev Jaiswal, Rachna Gupta, Debashree Chakrabarty, Bhagyashree Tarke Rahul Kumar, Jayanta Rabha, Parag Barouah, Sayan, Shruti

Technical Team: Vishala Mahale, Saras

Lights: Sarthak

Animation: Priyansh

Music: Daood Husain, Vikesh Bisth, Sachin Rohilla, Mahadev Singh Lakhawat, Devika

Story: James Graham

Dramaturge: Ajay Khatri

Translation: Meenakshi Thapa

Adaptation, Design & Direction: Ajay Khatri