“Is there a price for their deaths? How shall the price be paid?
Sarbpreet Singh’s poem “Kultar’s Mime”, inspired from Haim Bialik’s poem, “In the City of Slaughter”, forms the basis of the play, by the same name, and thus two cultures miles apart, get bound by unforgettable ties, carved in blood.
“In the City of Horrors” recounts the horrific pogrom that was organized, targeting the Jewish population of Kishinev, Russia, in 1903. Eighty one years later, Delhi, capital of India erupted in violence, after the assassination of Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, by her Sikh bodyguards. In an organized orgy of murder, rape, and arson, more than 3000 Sikh residents in and around Delhi, lost their lives, others lost their homes and their livelihoods, their parents and their siblings, their limbs, their eyes, and their sanity. “Kultar’s Mime” makes a valiant effort to capture the horrific suffering unleashed upon a community, and succeeds in forming ties across cultures and communities that have endured such pogroms, in history.
If you ever incredulously wonder, “Did it happen? Did men become such cruel beasts?” and then wonder how can keepers of the law, allow, sanction, and protect organized thugs to run amuck and unleash such pain, then you will find in history, it has happened and happened, time and again. With evocative lyrics, the play captures it all – “when I walk the streets of Delhi today, I shall see blood mixed with dirt”; “are you so blind, you can’t see”. Each child, in the town of Tilakvihar, “has a tale to tell, each of these children is a living shell”.
Drawing on the raw imagery of both poems, “Kultar’s Mime” not only tells a powerful story of human suffering and courage, but the incredible cast (Addison Williams, Allison Matteodo, Cathryn Roberts, Christine Scherer, Michelle Finston) of “outsiders” to the community, bring it to life, against a backdrop of striking paintings by Evanleigh Davis. Each actor tells the story of a child, in addition to playing multiple other roles. The actors own their characters, and deliver such a moving performance that the play bridges all distance of language, culture, or community. This is a story of human cruelty, of human suffering, of history that we must remember and learn from; never to repeat it.