Bezubaan: The Voiceless
Bollywood Dance Scene, creator of MN Fringe's top-selling shows in both 2014 and 2015, presents Bezubaan: The Voiceless, an original Bollywood dance dramedy exploring themes of immigration, integration, and identity. Father figure and long-time Hindu Indian immigrant “Appa” struggles with change at the international market he considers both his means of livelihood and his sanctuary. He, his Desi family, and their Minnesotan friends must face a new addition to their community whose presence could be life-changing. This family friendly show is packed with exciting Indian and contemporary dance styles, from Kathak to Swing and Lavni to Hip Hop, which punctuate and illustrate the storytelling. With an intergenerational and multicultural cast of 90, Bezubaan: The Voiceless epitomizes the BDS message of social harmony. Show times are: August 5, 5:30pm; August 6, 2:30pm; August 7, 5:30pm; August 10, 7pm; and Aug 13, 2:30pm at Rarig Center Thrust located at 330 21st Ave. South, Mpls, MN 55455. Show reservations and day passes ($16 weekday, $22 weekend) are available at www.fringefestival.org/show/?id=20160598.
There is a lot for Bezubaan: The Voiceless (BTV) to live up to after BDS created what MN Fringe executive director Jeff D. Larson announced was the “biggest selling show in the history of US Fringe festivals.” The group’s members are taking their success in stride. Artistic director Divya Maiya says, “We’re not thinking about last year, we’re too busy to think about anything but BTV!”
In addition to Divya, BDS veterans make up the core of the creative team. Just as they did last year for smash hit Spicy Masala Chai, Himanshu Agrawal and Varghese Alexander co-wrote the script while Madhu Bangalore and Stephanie Alexander co-direct it.
Bollywood Dance Scene holds such wide appeal for Fringe audiences that Midwesterners may miss that their shows are aimed most directly at the Minnesota Indian community, opening a window into their stresses, values, and conflicts. Agrawal brings his own North Indian upbringing and his experience as a psychiatrist to bear on the narrative. He says of Bezubaan, “Ultimately, it's about unity."
Though tackling a complex topic, the show is delivered with Bollywood simplicity. Divya says, “Audiences love our show format so we are keeping it, even while dealing with heavy topics like xenophobia.”
BDS leaves people feeling optimistic and empowered. While a stage production can’t solve serious issues like prejudice, BDS hopes to present a way for people, Indian and non, to open a dialogue. Agrawal adds, “You can love the message, you can hate the message but we hope you won't be able to ignore the message.”