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Plays based on Hindu gods stir controversy

Posted by: Rohan Preston under Theater Updated: June 27, 2013 - 2:44 PM

 

Playwright Aditi Kapil.

 

The announcement that playwright Aditi Kapil’s Hindu-based trilogy will premiere in Minneapolis in fall 2013 is attracting unfavorable attention from an organization that considers itself a guardian of the faith.

The Universal Society of Hinduism, issued a press release Thursday expressing “concern” that the plays will belittle a religion with over a billion global adherents.

“Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva were highly revered deities in Hinduism and were meant to be worshipped in temples and home shrines and not...trivialized on theater stages,” said president Rajan Zed.

Kapil’s three plays have been dubbed the Displaced Hindu Gods trilogy, according to the release from Mixed Blood Theatre. They are based on “Hindu deities Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva re-conjured as contemporary inhabitants of the Western world.”

One play, “Brahman/i: A One-Hijra Stand-Up Comedy Show,” is told by a hermaphrodite stand-up comic. The second play, “The Chronicles of Kalki,” is a girl-gang thriller about a young woman who is an avatar of Vishnu, the Hindu supreme being. The third work, “Shiv,” is a post-colonial piece based on Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and transformation.

All three plays are set to open Oct. 5 in a five-hour marathon in Minneapolis.

Speaking Thursday by phone from Nevada, where he lives, Zed admitted that he had not seen the plays; no one has. But he was alarmed by the descriptions of the plays that he read.

“I will ask my people to see it and report back,” he said. “Theater and dance have been very good to Hinduism over the years. Most shows are respectful. But this sounds like something that will degrade Hinduism and drag our sacred gods across the stage.”

Officials at the theater have not yet been reached for comment.

The theater is reaching out to Zed to offer him the scripts and talk with him about his concerns.

“We’re not afraid of controversy around the plays,” said Mixed Blood founder Jack Reuler. “We just want the reaction to be informed.”

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