November 6, 2014 | By Sikh Siyasat Bureau
London: They are not looking for revenge. They are not looking to incite. The only statement that the play makes is that any violence against innocents is wrong.
And with “Kultar’s Mime,” they have managed to do that wherever they have performed — from Berkley University in the US to Punjab Kala Bhawan in Chandigarh and Preet Nagar in Amritsar during the last two months.
The play, which has been stirring the audience and garnering applause too, synthesizes the sufferings of innocent victims of the organized anti-Sikh violence of 1984. Directed by Boston-based father-daughter duo of Sarbpreet Singh and J Mehr Kaur, the play juxtaposes the 1984 killings against an anti-Jewish pogrom in the city of Kishinev, the capital of Russian province of Bessarabia, in 1903… Both separated by thousands of miles, numerous years and insurmountable differences of religion, language and culture, yet similar stories of human suffering and courage.
The play — which tells the tale of four Sikh children who were victims of violence –draws on two poems, “Kultar’s Mime” written by Sarbpreet Singh in 1984 and “In The City of Slaughter” written by Hebrew poet Haim Nahman Bialik on the Kishinev pogrom.
It was staged in Chandigarh on Sunday and two shows were held at Preet Nagar and Punjab Naatshala in Amritsar on Monday and Tuesday.
Mehr said that the first time she read Kultar’s Mime, she was too young to understand it. “But I remember being a little freaked out by all the graphic imagery. I revisited it in fall 2012 and became determined to help educate communities about 1984 as it is at the intersection of my interests in politics and identity. But I didn’t quite know how to approach it. Somehow my mind wandered back to this poem,” she said.
Together, the duo penned and directed the play that has an all-American cast. Sarbjeet, who is in Punjab with the team, said that while auditioning for the play, they weren’t just looking for actors. “We wanted someone who understands the sentiment behind the play and for that, they had to understand who Sikhs were, where they come from and how things changed for them in the aftermath of 1984. And these young actors hadn’t seen Sikhs in life, didn’t know any,” he said.
Sarbpreet said that what has evoked audience response is because there is a common sentiment that even 30 years on, there has been no justice, no closure. “But we are not seeking revenge. The play expresses that, by talking about the pogrom, you can prevent such an incident from happening in the future. The more you ignore it, the more you leave room for more such bloodbaths,” he said.
“1984 was a crime against humanity, as were Kishinev, Rwanda, Godhra, and the Holocaust. We must all speak out for one another,” said Mehr.
The play has had seven shows in North America, three in Delhi and now heads to the UK.
(1) Save Our WhatsApp Number 0091-855-606-7689 to your phone contacts; and
(2) Send us Your Name via WhatsApp. Click Here to Send WhatsApp Message Now.