I was one of ten writers commissioned to write a monologue for the 70th anniversary of the partition of India, as part of the Come Closer – Memories of Partition – Oral History project: a joint project between Royal Exchange Theatre Manchester and the Manchester Museum, with a series of performances across Manchester city.
“The partition of India led to the largest mass migration in human history, with an estimated 15 million people being displaced. Seven decades on, the memories of partition are still strong…”
The project sought to explore the world-changing impact of partition by revealing untold stories of its impact on local communities, multiculturalism and migration.
What struck me throughout the project’s research period was the manufactured need for humans to identify with something in order to feel valid, and how easily that need can be manipulated through strategic division.
Thus, rather than base my script in partition’s dispassionate, destructive identity manipulation of the past, I decided instead to turn it to the future…
…2055. Post nuclear war and nuclear winter, where a seemingly equally dispassionate artificial intelligence now practices constructive identity manipulation in order to save humankind from extinction.
Not quite a monologue, iDent requires a degree of audience participation. Here’s an extract from the script’s directions:
An audience member (Human) is invited to participate in the performance. They should be quietly informed off-stage that they will be asked some questions; that the performer may, in the course of the performance, restrain their arms and cover their head. Other than that they will know nothing of what is to come.
The scene is set in a procedural chamber: a space where the AI can repurpose Human’s iDNA through a physical transfusion. There are four transfusion tubes visible (to correlate with Blood, Lover, Friend, and Foe). There is also a procedural chair (with restraints for upper arms).
Directed by Amy Hailwood, performed by Jennifer Kay, produced by Royal Exchange Theatre and Manchester Museum
Memories of Partition won the University of Manchester’s Making a Difference Award for Social Responsibility, for its outstanding contribution to equality, diversity and inclusion.
Manchester Museum Guest Post by Menaka: Memories of Partition