Motley, the theatre group, turns 40 this year. The milestone is being celebrated with Motleyana, a festival of plays at Prithvi Theatre and Veer Savarkar Smarak Sabhagriha. The idea of the group, whose most famous member is Naseeruddin Shah, took seed in 1978 in Lucknow. Shah and fellow actor Benjamin Gilani were keen to stage plays they liked and they started with Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot. The production, which was staged at the newly opened Prithvi Theatre in 1979, became a legend in the annals of theatre in Mumbai. Since then, the group has produced 42 dramas in English, Hindi and Hindustani. Here’s a look at the line-up at Motleyana.

‘Aurat! Aurat! Aurat!’

In this performance directed by Naseeruddin Shah, the cast will read sections of Ismat Chugtai’s autobiography and stage three of her stories: ‘Ek Shauhar ki Khaatir’, ‘Aadhi Aurat Aadha Khwab’, and ‘Soney ka Anda’.
When: Prithvi Theatre: Wednesday, July 24, Thursday, July 25 and Friday, July 26 at 3pm, 6pm and 9pm. Veer Savarkar Smarak: Wednesday, August 7 at 8pm.
Where: Prithvi Theatre, Janki Kutir, Juhu Church Road. Swatantryaveer Savarkar Marg, Shivaji Park, Near mayor’s bungalow, Dadar (West).

‘Dear Liar’

Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak Shah play George Bernard Shaw and Mrs Patrick Campbell. The writer and theatre actor were in a relationship in the early 20th century that was marked by a legendary exchange of letters. Playwright Jerome Kilty’s drama Dear Liar, directed by Satyadev Dubey, hinges on the witty and touching letters they wrote to each other.
When: Prithvi Theatre: Saturday, July 27 and Sunday, July 28 at 6pm and 9pm. Veer Savarkar Smarak: Tuesday, August 6 at 8pm.
Where: Prithvi Theatre, Janki Kutir, Juhu Church Road. Swatantryaveer Savarkar Marg, Shivaji Park, Near mayor’s bungalow, Dadar (West).

‘Manto, Ismat…Hazir Hain’

Urdu writers Sadat Hasan Manto and Ismat Chugtai often rattled readers with stories considered obscene in the early 20th century. Two such stories will be performed in this show directed by Naseeruddin Shah: Chugtai’s ‘Lihaaf’ and Manto’s ‘Bu’. In addition Manto’s ‘Titwal ka Kutta’ and Chugtai’s account of the obscenity trial in Lahore at which both writers were tried, ‘Un Byaahtaon ke Naam’, will be staged.
When: Thursday, August 8 at 8pm.
Where: Swatantryaveer Savarkar Marg, Shivaji Park, Near mayor’s bungalow, Dadar (West).

‘Einstein’

Naseeruddin Shah directs and performs in this solo English drama written by German-Jewish writer Gabriel Emmanuel. Shah plays an ageing Einstein, who is filled with guilt and horror that his research is being used to create the atom bomb.
When: Friday, August 9 at 8pm.
Where: Swatantryaveer Savarkar Marg, Shivaji Park, Near mayor’s bungalow, Dadar (West).

‘Ismat Apa Ke Naam’

Naseeruddin Shah directs and acts, along with Ratna Pathak Shah and Heeba Shah, in this performance of three Urdu stories by Ismat Chugtai on women suffering patriarchy: ‘Chui Mui’, ‘Gharwali’ and ‘Mughal Bacha’.
When: Saturday, August 10 at 8pm
Where: Swatantryaveer Savarkar Marg, Shivaji Park, Near mayor’s bungalow, Dadar (West).

For more plays, see here.