PALI by BHISHAM SAHNI
ADAPTED FOR THE STAGE BY DUSTIN NAKAO-HAIDER & SUHAILA MEERA
ABOUT THE PRODUCTION
Four-year-old Pali is separated from his Hindu family during the chaos of India’s 1947 Partition. Left behind in newly-formed Pakistan, he is adopted by a kind Muslim couple, with whom he lives for seven years — until one day, his birth father arrives to bring him back to India. Caught between two nations, two religions, two families, and two names, Pali embodies the violence of colonialism and its aftermath. Originally published in 1989, renowned Indian writer Bhisham Sahni’s critique of communalism in India speaks as much to the post-Independence moment as it does to the present. Pali explores the trauma of forced migration, the cruel nature of borders, and the power of human connection: all through the eyes of one little boy.
FEATURING A SPECIAL PRE-SHOW EXPERIENCE
A WALK OF REMEMBRANCE
2022 is the 75th anniversary of the South Asian Partition, the largest human migration in history to date. Society as people knew it was imploding. A weak and polarized police force could exert no control over an armed and terrified population. The unprecedented violence appeared predicated on religious difference, causing the forced migration of over 15 million people and the deaths of nearly 2 million.
The partitioning of British India into India, Pakistan, and eventually, Bangladesh, marked the watershed moment of many lives. Whole villages burnt to the ground, massacres occurred daily, and families were shattered. No individual story can give you the full picture, so our walk of remembrance introduces you to many. Come, walk through, process, and gain a richer understanding of the mass displacement that uprooted Pali – and millions of others.
ABOUT BHISHAM SAHNI
PALI SHORT-STORY AUTHOR
BHISHAM SAHNI (1915-2003) was born in pre-partition India. He completed his BA and MA in English literature from Government College, Lahore. His interest in dramatics and creative writing began early during his college days and his earliest Hindi short stories were published in the college Journal Ravi. While in college, he took an active part in dramatics and creative writing as well as in hockey. In 1958, many years later he obtained a PhD from Punjab University Chandigarh.
He participated actively in the Quit India movement of 1942, and became an active member of the Indian National Congress before Partition organizing relief work for refugees during the March 1947 communal riots in Rawalpindi. Having left his home to relocate to a divided India, he continued to fight for social change by joining The Indian People’s Theatre Association in 1948 where he worked as an actor and director travelling and performing all over India.
A recipient of numerous awards Sahni’s creative work has made a major contribution to contemporary Hindi Literature. His publications in various genres, include nine collections of short stories, seven novels, six plays, three memoirs, and numerous translations and articles. Sahni’s best known novel Tamas was made into a film for television and was centered around the communal riots that broke out in Punjab just before Independence. Praised for his remarkable storytelling, Sahni’s short stories and novels often dealt with the trauma of dislocation and uprootedness, of human madness and human compassion. Importantly Sahni’s faith in humanity remains relevant even in our times.
ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
SUHAILA MEERA is a PhD candidate in Stanford University’s Theater & Performance Studies department, also pursuing PhD minors in Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. Her dissertation, “Playing Children: Statelessness and the Performance of Childhood,” examines contemporary theatrical and cinematic representations of children crossing borders, with an emphasis on South Asia and the Middle East. She is currently dramaturging Yilong Liu’s PrEP Play/or Blue Parachute at the New Conservatory Theatre Center.
Director & Co-Playwright
Sidharth Gupta, Kunwar Tanishque Jarial, Utkarsh Varma
Komal Kumar, Rashi Mishra
Christian V. Mejia
Prachi Laud, Maya Rau-Murthy
Stanford Noopur Co-Captain
Artwork Creation Artist
Set Design Assistant
Assistant Costume Designer
Fayez Navid Anwar
Sagarika Samavedi, Arpita Singhal, Shayana Venukanthan
Assistant Stage Manager
Mai Lan Nguyen
Light Board Operator
Sound Board Operator
JJ Singh Kapur
Chloe Chow, Abby Rose Merrill
On Call Technician
Tickets for this production are sold out, but there’s still a chance to see the show!
Due to the need for accurate contact tracing, names on tickets must match IDs presented on performance night
MARCH 03-05 at 8pm
“A Walk of Remembrance”
pre-show experience at 7:40pm
This production performs in the Harry J. Elam, Jr. Theater, located in Roble Gymnasium at 375 Santa Teresa Street.
This production runs approximately 75 minutes and is presented without intermission.
This production was made possible in part by The Stanford Center for South Asia (CSA), the Pigott Fund for Drama, the May Ellen Ritter Production Fund, and the Drs. Ben and A. Jess Shenson Fund.
Proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test (taken with 72 hours of attendance) are required of all patrons. Masking is required during the performance. We ask that you closely review our COVID-19 policies and procedures at the link below.
LATE SEATING / RE-SEATING
For safety reasons, we cannot accommodate late admission OR re-seating while the performance is in progress. Please plan on arriving with ample time to find parking, locate the theater, move through COVID-19 safety procedures, etc.
Water-haze effects will be used during the performance.
For disability-related accommodations, please contact TAPSinformation [at ] stanford.edu. Requests should be made by February 24th.
The Saturday, March 5th performance will be recorded for future public viewing. Cameras in the theater may incidentally capture audience images and audio in the background. Ticket Purchasers must alert all members of their party to this possibility, and refrain from purchasing tickets before receiving their Party’s consent.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
TAPS’s video series TABLEWORK features live roundtable discussions broadcast on social media, where members of production creative teams and casts talk through their processes, goals, and challenges, sharing a window into the immense scholarly and creative efforts that serve as the foundation of TAPS performances. In this episode, Pali Creative Producer Karishma interviews Director Suhaila Meera and Scenic Designer Nina Ball.