The Goethe-Institut Karachi brought the play Trashedy to the Pakistan Theatre Festival 2023 and the performance is an example of how language is not a barrier when it comes to compelling storytelling.
Starring Marie-Lena Kaiser and Daniel Matheus, Trashedy is a well-developed performance which has emerged from the New-Steps Residency Program and has been directed by Leonardo Kees. With very little dialogue, the narrative was founded on immersive audience interaction, helmed by two performers dressed in simple brick red pants and white shirts no extravagant set. In just under an hour, Trashedy managed to wow and receive a standing ovation from a full house of over 400 audience members, many of whom were age 11 and above. Issues like pollution, consumerism, waste production and population explosion were discussed, inviting the audience to be part of the conversation.
The story is both tragic and comic simultaneously stemming from trash generation- thus exploring waste, pollution and environmental degradation. It describes a scenario where environmental issues have led to devastating consequences, such as natural disasters caused by climate change or catastrophic events due to improper waste disposal in a fun and interactive manner incorporating dance and movement.
The play spoke directly to its audience, by asking them some hard-hitting questions - such as: What do you really need? Upon which, a lot of people from the crowd responded, “money!” The actors then interacted and responded reminding audiences with simple placards what they really need: facets like clean air, water, friendship, empathy.
The most heart-wrenching scene was when the performers swooped down to take an audience member’s sandal and phone, and through simple digital animation and time lapses highlighted all the labour, gas, and natural resources that go into manufacturing one single object of daily usage, thus building upon how careful we need to be before we buy or trash our belongings. This was followed by the simple act of bicycling around the stage while showing a placard that read: Drive Less.
The set design consisted of a simple mat, along with a screen projected with hand-drawn animation referencing the damage our carbon footprint causes to the environment and some of the props consisted of empty paper cups. The captivating sound design and music by Martin Rascher is embellished with elements of trash and traffic sounds which depict the progression of time in the play.
This production joins the strong artistic string of successful theatre projects that the Goethe-Institut Karachi has brought to Pakistan over the last few years, such as Eksod and Among Fog, Hotel Propaganda (Brigel Gjoka & Mattia Gandini, NAPA 2014-17), Lighting (Anna Konjetzky 2018), Oh My Sweet Land (Corinne Jaber 2019), Year of the Fish (Jakob Weiss 2019) and Violet (Meg Stuart 2019).
The Director of the Goethe-Institut, Simone Lenz commented that, “The standards of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are applicable to our own projects and performance, particularly in the areas of equality and education as well as climate and the environment. Trashedy humorously alludes to our freedom of choice juxtaposed with consumerism, highlighting the undeniable fact that everything we do inevitably has an impact.”
– The writer is an Assistant Professor at IVS and can be reached at email@example.com