Kali SOLOS at Kali Theatre online
Focusing on productions from female writers of South Asian descent, Kali Theatre set out to present new material produced during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Writers were offered the opportunity to create work that reflects life under lockdown conditions by rehearsing on Zoom and recording in self-isolation. This open call follows the initial success of four monologues commissioned during the beginning of lockdown. The responses were many, and four monologues were chosen from over 50 submissions, each between 3-5 minutes long and encapsulating living in these unprecedented times.
The first, Dear Joe written by Miriam Babooram, is a bittersweet reflection of one woman’s loneliness while she lives with her family. The only time she feels happy is during her online workout sessions with Joe Wicks, the British fitness coach. She starts off by saying: “Hi Joe, I just love waking up with you.” This affectionate and sentimental statement steers you into thinking she’s referring to her husband, but it soon becomes apparent these warm endearments are reserved for the social media star. As the piece develops, we hear of her disdain for her partner, who she refers to as “baldy-face”; by comparison, she lights up when talking about Wicks.
Yasmin Wilde plays the melancholic woman well, at times pulling on heartstrings and making you smile with sympathy. An innumerable number of families have spent the whole of lockdown together, with parents unable to work or doing so from home and children off school, the challenges were felt by many.
Anticipating bailiffs to appear at any moment, the protagonist tells us how her work at a pub ended and the consequences of her partner’s unemployment – all very relatable issues that create a deep sense of empathy. She ends the monologue by sending a very heartfelt and emotional message of gratitude to Wicks, who has cheered many people on during these difficult times.
Written by Veronica Dewan and performed by Aasiya Shah, On Hold depicts the story of Padma, a young woman recently discharged from a psychiatric ward. First, we hear the operator from the Department for Work and Pensions, and Padma feeling unsafe in her home. Presented in video call format where the protagonist talks to her friend Ashley, we never hear from her acquaintance, listening instead to Padma’s responses. The isolation she feels is palpable, having only seen her social worker and merely connecting others through technology; you can’t help but sympathise with Padma, who has been through extreme trauma and needs more support.
Both monologues are directed by Helena Bell and are intimate portrayals of individuals who have been particularly affected by lockdown and the negative effects that social distancing has had on their mental health.
Kali Theatre’s open call has given paid opportunities to creatives who experienced negative repercussions during the pandemic, particularly the lack of financial aid, and this is a good way to keep audiences informed through reformed experiences of the arts in a safe way.
Photo: Kali Theatre
Kali SOLOS is available to watch at the Kali Theatre Online from 26th June until 24th July 2020. For further information visit the theatre’s website here.
Watch Dear Joe here: