Sunday, May 24, 2009

Benton County Harriet Beecher Stowe

"I talk to my plants"

Tri-City Herald
May 24, 2009

Tri-City native has play making waves in India
by Dori O'Neal

Tri-City native Doric Wilson found his writing niche in New York City a half-century ago.

Though his playwriting has been well received on off-off-Broadway for many years, one of his plays is packing a punch half a world away.

A Perfect Relationship is having a stirring effect on the human rights movement in New Delhi, India, where the production opened about a year ago.

The play focuses on the gay lifestyle, which presents a problem in India. Archaic Indian penal code makes it a crime to engage in homosexual activity, explained the play's director, Sameer Thakur, in an e-mail to the Herald this week.

"We chose to bring this play to the Indian stage, especially at this time, because it is relevant in the context of a litigation at the Delhi high court against section 377 of the Indian penal code," he said.

In addition, the gay rights movement in India has picked up momentum over the last few years, he added.

"We had our first gay pride in Delhi last year and the second one is scheduled for June 29," Thakur said. "There have been other plays and even Bollywood films with gay characters in them. However, most portrayals of gay persons have been stereotyped, comic roles that the audience has always laughed at rather than Mr. Wilson's play that provided us with the opportunity to portray people with whom urban, educated audiences in Delhi could identify with."

Wilson is thrilled his play has found a new audience in India.

"It is humbling to realize that a 10-year-old kid who organized his first plays with his cousins in a barn on his grandfather's Plymouth ranch 60 years later would have a script that is actually affecting human rights in a country halfway around the planet," Wilson told the Herald on Thursday.

Wilson couldn't resist making this humorous comparison: "Makes me sort of a Benton County Harriet Beecher Stowe."

Wilson has become a staple in New York City theater, having several of his plays performed in the off-off-Broadway district. He's also the co-founder of the theater group The Other Side of Silence, known more commonly as TOSOS.

He was honored last year by New York's theater community with the 2007 Innovative Theater Award for Artistic Achievement.

Wilson said A Perfect Relationship is one of his least political plays.

"It's about relationships," he said. "But it seems relationships between same genders turns out to be the most political of all! How empty people's lives must be for them to waste so much of their time on this planet hating other people.

"I know my mom and my old Kennewick High teacher, Miss Larson (who was the inspiration behind Wilson's writing career), would be proud," Wilson said.

Thakur couldn't be happier with the success of Wilson's play and it's impact on Indian theatergoers.

"The audiences come away with having enjoyed a comedy in which the characters happen to be gay," Thakur said.

The largely heterosexual audiences don't appear to feel disconnected to the play's characters despite their lifestyle differences, he added.

Most importantly, the director and Wilson are hoping to hear good news in the near future from India's high court regarding the outdated penal code.

"We are hoping to hear a favorable verdict from the high court to abolish the old law," Thakur said. "In the meantime, the theater is full, and the audiences are roaring for more. For us it's a personal satisfaction of speaking our minds in the best way we can.

No comments: