As an official commission of Panamania, Why Not Theatre had the world premiere of Gimme Shelter this week. With an international Pan Am Games audience watching, the show sheds light on the issue of rising sea levels and climate change, and the idea of stewardship inspired by the ancient text The Mahabharata.
Why Not Theatre’s artistic director, Ravi Jain is also the writer and sole performer in Gimme Shelter. Jain introduced the play by telling us how the picture of a young girl, whose family was at risk of displacement as ‘climate refugees’ due to environmental issues, inspired him to write.
He wove the themes of climate change and others from The Mahabharata, to create a one-person show that asks us to consider: What can one person do… to help others and make a difference, regardless how small, in our world? “There is power in storytelling”, Jain explained, and this is why he felt committed to use theatre as a means to bring this story and these important themes in Gimme Shelter. Stories also remind us of “human connectedness”. And this is how the show began…
Jain donned a mask, and took us on a journey. Like in The Mahabharata, the story involves two princes. As they grow up, they change in character and learn a few life lessons. Lessons that apply to all of us. Through words, music, and shadow play, Jain reminds us that thoughts, and actions carry consequences. The excellent use of multimedia tools and lighting enhances the story. As Gimme Shelter comes to an end, we are invited “to see others in our actions” in a very personal way. It is a show with intention, with meaning. It will leave an impression, and it will leave you with plenty to discuss.
Gimme Shelter runs until July 18th, at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. It is co-presented by Why Not Theatre and PANAMANIA presented by CIBC, in association with Soulpepper Theatre Company. Tickets start at $20 and are available in person from the Box Office by calling 416-866-8666 or online.