Imitation of Death, a play staged at Zamorin’s Higher Secondary School in Kozhikode from December 28, 2021 to January 1, 2022, was a site-specific intimate play that invited the audience for an atmospheric experience by evoking memories and stimulating archetypal imageries.

The Performance Museum Project uses every part of the venue, the school, right from its entrance to the playground, verandahs, classrooms, staircase, and even toilet. Members of the audience walk around from one scene to another, run after the characters, and even lie down, blurring the boundaries between audience and performers, being part of participatory theatre.

The director or any of the characters often guides the audience to the next scene, where they create a surreal world of light and darkness based on various facets of death. The audience gets to play a part in every scene, knowingly or unknowingly. They get to throw soil into a grave or drink toddy in memory of the dead after the rituals. They get to listen to monologues by the “dead” on circumstances that led to their death. Sometimes, it is the dear ones of the dead who talk. The audience of 15 is dragged into a state of numbness where they feel death from the perspective of the dead.

Director of the play and founder of Theatre Company and Inner Circle Performing Community, Emil Madhavi, had first presented the play in Hyderabad a few years ago, and then in Delhi before it was staged at Kokkallur, Kozhikode, when Maverick Theatre Collective of Kokkallur became a part of the project.


This article was originally posted on The Hindu on January 3, 2022, and has been reposted with permission. To read the original article, click here.

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