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Playwright Anupama Chandrasekhar’s Free Outgoing, which has been shortlisted for the John Whiting Award in the UK and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize in the US, will be staged in her city, Chennai, this weekend.

Free Outgoing premiered at the Royal Court Theatre in London, UK, in 2007 under the direction of Indhu Rubasingham; a repeat performance followed in 2008. The play then travelled to Canada’s Nightwood Theatre, where it was directed by Kelly Thornton last year. The India edition has been directed by Mahesh Dattani and produced by Crea-Shakthi, with actors M.D. Pallavi, Uchit Nair and T.M. Karthik, among others.

The play tells the story of Malini, a single mother who has a crisis on her hands when she discovers that her adolescent daughter, Deepa, has been filmed being intimate with a boy from school. The play explores the consequences that Malini faces from her daughter’s school, her neighbourhood, and the media. Malini is played by singer-actor Pallavi, who has two teenage children herself.

While the setting was realistic when it was staged in London—drawn from pictures of Chandrasekhar’s flat in Chennai, right down to the Tamil calendar on the wall—Dattani’s set is abstract.

“The production in London was careful to have some authenticity while representing the flat in Chennai, to be able to transport the audience to the city. I don’t feel the need to represent it so closely. It’s not a story that’s just about the Tam-Brahm (Tamil Brahmin) community in Chennai but it resonates with so many other communities as well. The vicissitudes that it portrays are universal," says Dattani.

Dushyanth Gunashekar, creative head, Crea-Shakthi, says the theatre group has grown and risen to the challenge of this production. “It has been handled by us end-to-end, right from the planning to the execution, which includes things like dismantling a living room set and transporting it from Chennai to Bengaluru on the Shatabdi Express," he says.

The show opened at the Ranga Shankara theatre in Bengaluru on 30 January. After Chennai, it will travel to Mumbai for a performance on 12 February at the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), as part of the ongoing NCPA Select festival.

Free Outgoing will be staged on 6-7 February, 7.30pm, at Museum Theatre, Egmore, Chennai. Tickets, 200, 300 and 500, available on in.bookmyshow.com. It will be staged on 12 February, 7pm, at the NCPA, Nariman Point, Mumbai. Tickets, 200, 250 and 300, available on in.bookmyshow.com

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