His Chup Chap Charlie will be staged on January 14 with 40-odd performers, including Chau and Kathakali Dancers, Devlina Kumar, Om Sahani, and Debolina Dutta
Nigel Akkara is known to work on his creative projects with marginalised, often overlooked communities. Besides working on films like Gotro, Muktodhara, Tirandaj Shabor, and others, he staged theatre productions with the LGBTQIA+ community and sex workers. Now, he is set to premiere Chup Chap Charlie, which involves 20-odd children and young adults who suffer from autism and down syndrome. In fact, many of them are specially-abled individuals. After rehearsing since April last year, the production will be staged on January 14. Tollywood celebrities Devlina Kumar, Debolina Dutta, and Om Sahni are also acting in the play which is jointly directed by Nigel and Jahar Das.
“It all started through our theatre therapy workshop. The script was developed through the workshop and the play was shaped up completely around three months ago,” said Nigel. Initially, the actor did not particularly intend to direct. “However, as I started working with them, I was drawn into the process. For months, I was only available with them – spending time, giving them instructions, and learning from the. It was quite a journey,” he said.
It was not an easy task for Nigel. “I never thought it would be so difficult. People who suffer from autism, down syndrome or any other intellectual challenge, create their own universe and they do not let others access it easily. It takes a lot of patience to enter into their world. Once they allow you to do that they will fill your life with unconditional love,” he explained.
Chup Chap Charlie has Chau and Kathakali performance interwind in the production. Nigel informed us that most of the performers are specially-abled. “Some are mute, some have walking difficulties, and so on. The actor who’s playing Charlie is also mute and deaf. He dances and communicates with the audience beautifully. Every performer flaunts their skills very craftily,” he said.