PETTEE: Storybox, devised by Deepak Unnikrishnan

AED 52.50

Ideas of living and leaving, of sharing real and surreal stories, weaved together through movement, music, and flight
PETTEE, the performance, is about marrying these ideas and conversations together. Dancers and fabricated landscape lead the audience into an immersive world of movement music and flight, where bodies unbend, lunge, and soar, to unseal and unpack years of youth, where multiple futures, each magical, seem possible., Plotting to make that dream of weightlessness real are writers Deepak Unnikrishnan and Karthika Naïr, composer Sarathy Korwar and his musicians, set and lighting designer Willy Cessa, joined by three.


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PETTEE, in languages that are home to hundreds of millions of people (Malayalam, Tamil, Gujarati, Marathi, Hindi…), has multiple meanings but one that everyone recognises instantly: container. The word can also shift shape to become a box, briefcase, casket, or coffin, in all the shapes colors, and materials that the human brain and hands have made possible. It is a word with siblings and cousins across the world. Like petit which can also mean the insignificant, the young. Which can mean humble, unknown, mean, poor… petty. It is a word that is our spirit animal, for all of us with rootlessness, with displacement, in our blood. All of us who inherited shoots instead of roots, feet instead of home. Containers we carry. Containers that contain us. Containers that make us dream of flight.


Deepak Unnikrishnan
Deepak Unnikrishnan is a writer from Abu Dhabi. His book Temporary People, a work of fiction about Gulf narratives steeped in Malayalee and South Asian lingo, won the inaugural Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing, the Hindu Prize, and the Moore Prize. It was also shortlisted for the Believer Book Award, the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize, the Crossword Book Award and appeared on the long list for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, and the International Dublin Literary Award. The book received critical acclaim from The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker, The Economist, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Times Literary Supplement, The Wire, Outlook India, and Scroll.in, Open Magazine, Mathrubhumi, Di Repubblica, among others, and was named by Kirkus Reviews, San Francisco Chronicle, and The Hindu as one of the best books of 2017.

At the 57th Venice Biennale, Deepak’s fiction was featured in the written publication of the National Pavilion of the UAE: Rock, Paper, Scissors: Positions in Play. His work can also be found in Gross Ideas: Tales of Tomorrow’s Architecture, a book project commissioned by the 2019 Oslo Architecture Triennale, and is forthcoming in the written publication of the UAE National Pavilion at the 2023 Venice Biennale of Architecture. His voice and work can also be heard on musician Sarathy Korwar’s album ‘More Arriving’.

His essays and fiction have appeared in Foreign Affairs, The Guardian, The Common, Guernica, Drunken Boat, The State Vol IV: Dubai and Himal Southasian, The Penguin Book of Migration Literature (Penguin Classics, 2019), and Building Sharjah (De Gruyter, 2021), among others and he frequently collaborates with artists and scholars across disciplines. He has been a writer in residence at Sangam House, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, and Brown University, and was a Margaret Bridgman Fellow in Fiction at Bread Loaf. He currently teaches at NYU Abu Dhabi.

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