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Crossroad Project stages Bhopal

ISU seal projected

The Crossroads Project is celebrating its 10th anniversary with playwright-in-residence, Rahul Varma, who will bring his play, Bhopal, to Illinois State University’s Westhoff Theatre beginning Feb. 22 and running through Feb. 27.

Varma is also an essayist, community activist and artistic director/co-founder of Montreal’s Teesri Duniya Theatre. He writes in Hindi and English, and his works include Counter Offence and Truth and Treason. While on campus, Varma will participate in a Q & A with the audience after several performances of Bhopal, teach master classes, and be a featured speaker for the International Studies Seminar. Varma will also participate in the interdisciplinary symposium, Corporate Environmental Responsibility: The Legacy of Bhopal, at 7 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 28, in the Center for the Performing Arts Concert Hall with panelists from across campus. Finally, Varma’s newest play, Truth and Treason, will be given a staged reading at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 1, in Kemp Recital Hall.

Bhopal, which will be directed by Illinois State University Theatre alum Mark Baer, has been described as a taut political drama based on the events leading up to one of the worst industrial catastrophes in history. In 1984, a leak of methyl isocyanate gas and other chemicals occurred at the Union Carbide India Limited pesticide plant in Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh, India. Hundreds of thousands of people were exposed, and depending on the source, somewhere between 2,259 and 3,787 deaths resulted from exposure to the chemicals. The play reveals the human stories within the complex political and economic web that located a chemical plant in Bhopal and leads to human tragedy.

Crossroads Artistic Director Leslie Sloan Orr pointed out that although the play takes contemporary events as its subject, it does not feel like the stereotypical “political theatre.” Rather, through telling the stories of its characters, the play reaches audiences emotionally.