The dark clouds of oblivion had shadowed her understanding for many years. Until one day, they lifted to reveal the looming environmental crisis.
For 34-year-old theatre director, Aruna Ganesh Ram, it was not enough to just intellectualise the subject in drawing room conversations.
Intervention, both personal and collective, was required to shift from a materialistic culture to a minimalistic if we didn’t want a great loss of life-giving resources at our hands, according to her.
Through her play, Under Pressure, she investigates the politics of nature and how each one of us needs to take responsibility for this shared ecosystem.
The play is being staged as in Delhi’s 18-year-old theatre event called Old World Theatre Festival.
It nudges us to look at the multi-dimensional paradigm where a policymaker, a ragpicker, a environmentalist, an 8,000-year-old tree and extinct birds, all play equal parts.
“The characters in my play take the environment advocacy forward. Every class of society has a role to execute as we’re all inter-dependent. I can throw my garbage out of my window and hope that it will disappear, but if the ragpicker chooses to go on a strike, I won’t be able to even open my windows and breathe,” says Ram.
She has kept the title of the play direct and poignant as she thinks there is no beating around the bush with regard to this matter.
“We are all under pressure to act immediately given that climate change is real. Every research points to the fact that there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish by 2050. The status quo on environmental preservation made me angry initially but then I channelised it into constructive questioning, of ourselves and the systems that we live in. Thus was born the play.”
She vehemently condemns consumerist culture, of which, she too admits to being a part, but she is making a deliberate effort to change.
“You can choose to lock yourself and stay away from anything political, but that in itself is your political choice. Anything that we do to economically gain out of is the politics of nature.”
Theatre enables her to express all these anxieties in a creative, relatable and immersive way. It is an intimate exchange that brings the audience close to the materials, the performers and to one another, according to her.
Directorship helps her lead the way, but it is never about power for Ram. It’s about influence. Hopefully Under Pressure will have an impact.