Day Zero was a play staged at the Alliance Francaise in Bengaluru on Sept 2 and 3, 2023. The India Foundation for the Arts supported it under their Program 360. Vishwanath Srikantaiah collaborated with Ram Ganesh Kamatham in writing the script of the play.
The following note is from IFA’s website.
‘The play’s title Day Zero refers to the imminent water crisis in the city of Bangalore, in the case of a drought. Bangalore has been developed unsustainably in many ways – particularly with regard to the flow of water through the city. Atop the Deccan Plateau, Bangalore has no significant source of water except for a tributary of Arakavathi called Vrishabhavati. With the rapid growth of the population in the city since the 1990s, poor water management in Bangalore has also exposed its urban precarity. The imagery of water movements in the city, like expensive piping from the Cauvery, the water tanker mafia, excessive borewell drilling and a falling groundwater table, points to the story of urban inequalities as well. At the heart of this play are the paradoxes of Bangalore’s development and its disparities, and a future-focussed approach towards sustainability.
In the play, the movement of the water will be explored, both literally and figuratively. In a literal sense, there is a cascading network of kere (lakes) and kaluve (canals) in Bangalore, through the topographical four ridge-valley systems of the city, involving Hebbal, Chellaghatta, Koramangala and Vrishabhavati. Figuratively, it is about the emotional content related to rainfall, tears and sweat, drinking water, drainage and submerged/ subterranean structures.
The play will engage with the metaphor of water in the city, through intersecting timelines from the past and the future. One potential fragment of the play will be set in a dystopic future in 2035, when the city has been submerged under water, and only a few of the citizens are able to live above the waterline. These privileged few are occupying the superstructures built as a part of the fictional Vrishabhavati Urban Rejuvenation project. This dystopian narrative has a protagonist who is a glass cleaner, originally from the Manuvaddar/ Bhovi caste, who are well-diggers. The story will unfold, from a request for a glass of water. Another fragment in the play will be set in the colonial past of Bangalore when boxing was a craze in the city. The protagonist will be a boxer in the 1930s who wanted to survive three rounds with the local boxing champion, Gentleman Gunboat Jack, whose real name was James Colzie. After challenging him to a fight at the Opera Theatre on Residency Road, the protagonist, who is drenched in sweat, is wondering to himself, how he got himself into such a mess.
The staging of the play will involve soundscapes, cartographic data such as topography and GIS data, and elements of verticality drawn from the aesthetics of climbing sports.’