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On Art and Friendship

by Aditi MehtaHouston, TX

This past Friday, I had the great privilege of checking out a local production put together by the theater troupe Shunya. The Houston based group is one of the most active South Asian theater groups in the country and features some amazing talent. Through May 12th, Shunya will be showcasing Art, a humorous, sarcastic story centered around three best friends and an interesting piece of art.

I was able to catch opening night at the intimate Studio 101 and was immediately transported into a funny, relatable story. Imagine one day your best friend decides to buy a $200,000 all-white painting. She posts it up on her wall and begins to explain the details of the painting (it’s all white with a few grey lines upon close inspection), what attracts her to the artist, and how she dreams to take on the world of art collection. How would you react? Would you be shocked, angry, or supportive?

In Art, the friends of Serge (Prateek Karkal) react in very different ways. Marc (Asif Syani) is astounded and angered by Serge’s new purchase and quickly deems him as pretentious. Yvan (Karthik Chander), the third best friend, tries hard to be supportive of Marc and smooth over any tension that the piece of art my have caused. Even then, their 15 year friendship is in danger of quickly entangling on the basic premise of “do we have anything in common anymore?”

Though originally a French play, written by Yasmina Reza, I was surprised by how much I related to the characters and the story. My closest girlfriends and I are almost 10 years into our friendships and however close we may be, there are many times where I can easily see us drifting apart due to new passions, relationships, and travels. Art shows us friendships that struggle, yet survive in the midst of those changes.

I have lived in Houston most of my life and was disappointed to learn that Shunya was celebrating its tenth year, yet I had only heard of them recently! The actors were amazing and played their roles with enthusiasm and emotion. The play was wonderfully adapted and the location proved to be the perfect backdrop for the story. If you live in Houston, I highly encourage you to come out and see Art or watch a production by Shunya Theatre.

You can learn more about the production and the group on their website and facebook page.