THALI – A theatrical platter of short plays

TAPAC Theatre, Western Springs, Auckland

03/03/2013 - 08/03/2013

Auckland Fringe 2013

Production Details

From the company that brought you last year’s critically acclaimed production of ‘Rudali’ and ‘Kingdom of Cards’, Auckland Indian theatre company Prayas presents ‘Thali’. – A platter of sizzling short plays as part of the Auckland Fringe Festival.

Like the fragrant mix of spices, aromas and flavors that make up a Thali, an Indian meal made up of various dishes, come and experience Prayas’ latest theatrical feast of short plays. Directed by Ahi Karunaharan (The Mourning After, Public Service Announcements) with Monica Mahendru (Short+Sweet, Rudali), this eclectic mix will be served on a single plate at TAPAC, Western Springs, 3 – 8 March 2013.

Breaking away from full length format, the season of Thali will allow our audience to explore, experiment and experience a different format of storytelling, utilizing a various range of theatrical conventions and styles to present these stories from emerging and established Indian playwrights from India and the world beyond.

Balti Kings by Sudha Bhuchar and Shaheen Khan peeks into the lives of the luckless wage-slaves of the kitchen as they prepare for one epic showdown of a night.

‘Welcome to the world of Balti, where Indian restaurants ruthlessly compete for custom, curry wars rage with price slashing and chefs poached like rugby players whilst you the customer can pile your plate and ‘curryoke’ into the night.’

My Name is Cine-Ma by Mathivanan Rajendran looks at a young girl who loves the Celluloid a little more than she should. A multi award winning play.

‘She skipped school and learnt her life lessons from the movies. She comes now to give you a lesson or two on the lure that is Indian Cine-ma.’

P James for President by Nikhil Sriram forays into the world of illusions, magic and politics as P James and his trusty side kicks pull all the tricks in their bag to campaign for P James for President.

‘The president of this country has always been seen as a person who shies away from the public glare.… but I’m none of that. I’m used to the spotlight. In fact its only when the light is on that I truly revel in my life” What will be his first act as President?

Prayas is a non-profit theatre group engaged in producing original Indian theatre in English, for the wider audience of New Zealand – in an attempt to share, integrate with and enhance the cultural mosaic of Aotearoa. It has a six-year record of plays to its credit now, has reached out to the Auckland theatre community and involves players and crew of many different ethnicities.

Auckland Fringe runs from 15 February to 10 March 2013. For more Auckland Fringe information go to  

3rd, 4th, 5th March 2013 – 7.30pm, 8th March 2013 – 8.30pm
Duration: 75 mins
Venue: TAPAC, 100 Motions Road, Western Springs
Tickets: Adults $20, Concessions, Children and Groups: $15
Bookings: TAPAC – or ph 09 845 0295 

Confident and daring

Review by Shirin Brown 13th Mar 2013

Thali, the lastest show by Prayas, provides a delectable platter of short modern South Asian plays.  

Opening with the cleverly written Balti Kings by Sudha Bhuchar and Shaheen Khan, an extended family manage the resurgence of a failing Indian restaurant in Birmingham. The well-written script is brought to life by dynamic staging and well-cast characters who bring out the tensions between the older and younger generations, those ‘fresh off the boat’ and those that have been in England longer.

A locally written play by Sananda Chatterjee, Through the Grapevine, follows where Monica Mahendru takes on the roles of both Sita and Panchali. Both heroines of Indian mythological stories, Chatterjee places them in a café in the 21st century.    This is a vibrant piece where Mahendru, manages the mannerisms of the two Gods admirably, and the play itself cleverly addresses issues around male and female status. 

Through the Grapevine is slightly less accessible to non-Indian audiences, who would appreciate the frustrations expressed by the characters, but may not be familiar with the original stories. 

P James for President by Nikhil Sriram is a political allegory. Kanchan Bandopadhyay plays the role of a politician who magics away his country’s oil, and in a post-election tour-de-force disappears completely.  The cast support him in crazy antics and lighting contributes to a visual feast which makes up for the fact the writing is a little unclear in places. 

The last item, My Name is Cine-ma, stands out for me in terms of staging and performance. Ahi Karunaharan and Monica Mahendru (directors) developed the original prizewinning monologue by Mathivanan Rajendran into a story that could be told by an ensemble of five.  Exploring the influence of Bollywood on the lives of women, moments from film are skilfully interwoven with dance, dialogue, love scenes and fight scenes to create a mesmerising piece.  

Thali is a confident and daring extension to Prayas’s previous work, which has tended to focus on straight theatrical plays.  Never easy to manage the expectations of South Asian and non-South Asian audiences, the plays are well chosen to bridge the gaps between different communities and bring a welcome multi-cultural flavour to the New Zealand theatre scene.  

You’ve missed this show at the Fringe, but Prayas will be returning with their very successful Rudali – the Mourner, at an Edge venue from October 14 to 27, 2013.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council