For its latest theater piece, East Liberty-based Quantum Theatre moves into a space on North Pacific Avenue in Garfield, aiming to bring audiences to a neighborhood that, over the past year, has been hurt significantly by extensive construction on several blocks of Penn Avenue. Bolder yet, Quantum has turned the space into "The Temple of Comedy," a pop-up comedy club that will host a production of BRAHMAN/i: A One Hijira Stand-up Comedy Show.
The work was originally Part 1 of acclaimed playwright Aditi Brennan Kapil’s ‘Displaced Hindu Gods’ trilogy, a series that riffs on the deities of the Hindu Trinity.
tars New York-based actor Sanjiv Jhaveri and is directed by the founder of Los Angeles' Cornerstone Theatre Shishir Kurup. Kapil, who was born to Indian and Bulgarian parents and raised in Sweden, created the show to explore her Indian heritage through the prism of her globalized perspective. As the title suggests, the play itself is styled after a one-person comedy show, where a sole performer is tasked to take on history, mythology, and gender while providing the voice for a dozen different eclectic characters. For director Kurup, BRAHMAN/i
takes a medium beloved by American audiences, stand-up comedy, and uses it to pull Kapil's themes and ideas together in increasingly dramatic ways.
"For better or worse, America is in love with stand-up comedy. And in certain ways, it’s much more of a high-wire act than theater," said Kurup. "I think it's like when people go to a Indy Car racing event, and they're sort of hoping to see some big crashes that people somehow walk away from. That’s why I think stand-up comics are so popular, especially those who are edgier and can improvise. The crowd is always like, 'Oh, will he crash and burn?'"
As for preparation, Kurup hopes that turning traditional theater into a comedy club atmosphere will bring a new dimension to the one-man show form. But even with a one-man show, translating that script to the stage can be a challenging, confounding endeavor. And while Kurup has worked with Sanjiv previously, who himself has been rehearsing this piece since late November, breathing life into BRAHMAN/i
was no easy task.
"It’s one of those productions where people say [in regards to preparation] ‘Oh, well, it’s just a solo performance.’ Well, yes, but the script is 62 pages long of very interesting, dense material," said Kurup. "What it aspires for is a stand-up piece, and the immersion of this work is creating an atmosphere of a comedy club. So that’s the mountain we’ve been climbing for the past few weeks, turning those 62 pages into flesh, blood, truth, life."
For ticket and event information, visit BRHAMAN/i'
s event page at www.quantumtheatre.com/season/brahmani/
(113 N. Pacific Avenue, Garfield, The Temple of Comedy)