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Fifty Shades of grey

I hear that Delhi has a healthy population that practices BDSM




Jalabala Vaidya, playwright, actress and owner of the Delhi-based Akshara Theatre, who conceptualised the reading, didn’t particularly like ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ . The book, however, she thought, made for a dramatised reading. Vaidya talks about audience reactions and surprises.

Was it difficult to cast people?

There was some difficulty. For instance, an actor we had cast last year in a play, we thought, was perfect for the part but he wasn't available. And the two girls have performed in many plays with us. We asked them if they would feel comfortable in this and they hadn't even read the book. But I insisted they read specific bits of the book before they agreed to it.

Why did you read out the explicit parts of the book and not the younger cast members?


I decided to read it out because neither of them in real life have sufficient life experience to express those parts accurately. Secondly, it is a very intimate thing and Gopal (Sharman, Vaidya's husband and the director of the play) was essential in directing me. I tried it 2-3 times and he said there wasn't enough breath and gasps in it. It took a while.

How were the audience reactions? Were they what you expected?


Reactions from the first and second days were very interesting. Very surprisingly, people who practised BDSM spoke up, even a few married couples and same sex couples - that made for very lively discussions. I was also surprised to find out that Delhi actually has a healthy population of people who practise this and they have organised themselves and built themselves a website - kinkycollective. com.

Isn't a dramatised reading format too rigid?


You don't take liberty with the writing at all. We have done several of these on different subjects. They work very well actually. When you read a book, there is a visual limitation but in a theatre with lots of people, we can aid it theatrically. We also got a young woman to choose the music because we needed someone of a similar age to do so. We introduced a humour element in the reading of the BDSM rules and power limits, to liven it up. How can you sit and read pages of rules on stage?

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