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Saturday, December 28, 2013


(Gyendra Sooriah leaps over Paroshen Sooriah and Eugene Shezi. Pic: Val Adamson)

A refreshing reminder of the power we hold within ourselves. (Review by Shika Budhoo)

With the recent passing of Nelson Mandela, many South Africans have started asking themselves about their purpose and place in society. These questions are echoed in I Am I, a new absurdist drama by Rhodes University graduate Gyendra Sooriah. He explores the journey of his life from birth to present day in this brave stage play, presented in partnership with The Indian Council for Cultural Relations.

Gyendra wrote, directed and performs in I Am I and is joined on stage by Eugene Shezi, Paroshen Sooriah and contemporary Indian dancer, Avishka Mothiram. Seemingly based on Gyendra Sooriah’s actual life, we are faced with characters that push the central character towards the search for his purpose.

Born under difficult circumstances - as a baby he was given a 50% chance for survival and had to undergo numerous operations in his youth – Gyendra explores his journey in dealing with growing up and living in the current South African climate. In this exploration, he touches on issues of identity as a South African, an Indian and a Hindu, on a very personal level. He lays his soul bare by exposing ‘the personal’ incidents of his youth - wetting himself during a football practice to the amusement of his fellow team mates and coach, his struggles with alcohol and the violent loss of a loved one.

I Am I brings to the surface the idea that we all wear disguises and that sometimes we are disguised from ourselves. The piece challenges the audience not only to recognise his ‘guises’, but to acknowledge our own, and hopefully strip away these guises and reflect on who we really are.

Through physical theatre dance and absurd drama, I Am I proposes the idea that an individual is not only what he thinks himself to be, but that his identity is created by those who live alongside him and that there are different versions of the self, including the true self. Essentially, we are who we think we are; we are who society thinks we are; and lurking between these two thoughts is our true self. Sooriah boldly challenges us to confront the true self and pushes us to ask the questions that drive our life’s purpose.

I Am I tells the story of a boy’s triumph over adversity by sheer will of the human spirit and is a refreshing reminder of the power we hold within ourselves. It runs at the Catalina Theatre, Wilson’s Wharf on December 28 and on January 4 and 5, 2014, at 20h00. Tickets R80 available at Computicket. - Shika Budhoo