By Indhrannie Pillay
Durban-born stage and screen star and master storyteller Rajesh Gopie is set for a return season with his smash hit one-man play, Out of Bounds. Gopie’s signature piece returns to the city of its origin after an absence of some years.
Out of Bounds is written and performed by Gopie, and directed by American, Tina Johnson. The play is set in 1980s South Africa. It tells the story of Lal, a young boy growing up on the outskirts of Durban in Inanda and Phoenix, where he lives with his extended family. Gopie said, “All Lal longs for is a room to himself and his privacy. He becomes feed up with adults who are sometimes rude and terrorising toward him.” The play is a humorous depiction of the pros and cons of living in a nuclear family. “The inspiration behind Out of Bounds was my passion to tell the South African Indian story,” he said.
Through Lal’s trials and tribulations, we experience a time in South Africa’s history when, as Gopie points out, ‘being a ‘coolie was anything but cool’. However, Out of Bounds is far more than just a play about Indian culture. “It embraces all people in search of their identity and origins. It is a play for anybody and everybody. People find themselves in this play”, said Gopie. “We are all similar, and there is something universally human in this play. My director and I did not want to leave the audience unaffected. We wanted to reach toward something together, something primal. This is not a show for Indians only, it’s for the city, a city searching for love, truth, peace and sharing”.
Out of Bounds played to audiences in 33 European cities and across the USA. The play was hailed as ‘boundlessly brilliant’ and ‘a gem’ by The Citizen and as ‘one of the best plays you’ll see this year’ by The Sunday Times during its run in Johannesburg in 2005.
According to Gopie, theatre plays an integral part in social change. “During the apartheid era the Arts were the spearhead of change. It was used to highlight the injustices and the oppression.” He further added, “Theatre is the mirror image of society. The two primary components of theatre are tragedy and comedy. They are either sides of the same coin, and we are the coin. One moment we are laughing and one moment we are crying.”
With the advent of technology and the introduction of digital forms of entertainment, theatrical performances are not a very popular form of entertainment. “It has to be understood that theatre is not going to appeal to everybody. However, there is a lack of direction now. We need to create a regular season of work with a clear artistic vision. A good start would be for independent companies to liaise and work together to create more cohesion. We need to continue making good plays, educating people and creating an interest among South Africans, especially the youth,” he said.
Theatre is representative of the issues we face on a day to day basis. “I will always hit hard. I’m here for the sole purpose of truth, and I will continue deepening my reason for being here, helping other people”, Gopie said.
Interested persons can watch Out of Bounds at the Durban’s Seabrook Theatre. Tuesdays to Fridays shows will be at 7.30pm, at 5pm and 8pm on Saturdays, and on Sundays at 6pm. The show runs for the month of October. Tickets cost R100 per person. For advanced booking contact Computicket on 083 915 8000. Alternately email [email protected]. The performances are presented by Rasa Productions in association with the 1860 Pioneers Foundation, Lotus Fm and Community Projects.