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A peek into the closet due to the delusion of reprieve

Rayyan Thenmalaikhan, along with Divagar Ravi, tries to abridge the human emotion of identity crisis through their play I Identify As.... - A Peek Into the Closet’

A peek into the closet due to the delusion of reprieve

I Identify As.... - A Peek Into the Closet

CHENNAI: We, as humans, live in a persistent trepidation of the unknown, the fear of not knowing who we are, the fear of never knowing who we want to be. But emotions of love, inner freedom and responsibilities that help one sustain and triumph over harrowing experiences.

Rayyan Thenmalaikhan, the writer and co-director of the play, along with Divagar Ravi, tries to abridge this very human emotion of identity crisis through their play I Identify As.... - A Peek Into the Closet’.

Divagar Ravi

“The play is based on the term ‘Delusion of Reprieve’, coined by Viktor Frankle in his book Man’s Search For Meaning,” states Rayyan. Having started his career as a stand-up comedian, Rayyan is now part of the theatre team, Theatrekaran, since 2019. Being an avid reader, and a passionate gamer, he chose theatre because of the access that his rehearsal space had to the railway station.

“In 2017, my friend invited me to a play only because one of her friends bailed out. That was the first time I watched a professional theatre play which was Maara, a play by Theatrekaran. I started following them ever since, and also took my family with me to watch all their plays,” Rayyan narrates.


“My journey began when I received an invitation from Theatrekaran in 2019, wherein they wanted people to be a part of their upcoming production Asuras, in which I worked as an assistant director and also looked into the light cues. I was curating my ideas for a novel back then, and thought maybe I could learn more about writing if I became a part of their team. The sole reason for me to even give them an audition was because they had their rehearsal space right behind the Mambalam Station and I, being a college kid at that time, thought to myself that my commute would be easy,” he adds.

What makes theatre interesting for the artiste now is the bond that gets formed over a period of the production.

“My best friends, who are also a part of this play, are my driving force. The satirical, yet heartfelt encouragement we get during rehearsals is something which can never be expressed, but can only be felt when one gets themselves into the creative atmosphere of a theatre,” adds the writer.

Rayyan Thenmalaikhan,

I Identify As.... - A Peek Into the Closet deals with a bunch of characters who face issues with their identity, and showcases how they all come together to resolve their issues in a therapy curated by a newbie.

“The play will witness innumerous characters, whose names will be revealed during its run. We have Sahayam, that’s how everybody calls him, who is a 60-year-old inmate.


Apart from him, we have used a mental health term to describe each character. We have a character with Intermittent Explosive Disorder (IED), Messiah Complex, Clinical depression, Substance abuse and anxiety,” Rayyan explains. Through the portrayal of complex characters, the writer has tried to import on a rather thought-provoking aspect of the society, which many fail to pay attention to.


“When I researched, there are hardly any separate prison facility for those who belong to the transgender community in the country. If you are born a man, and later Identify yourself as a woman, you are still sent to an all men’s prison. As the title suggests A Peek into the Closet, the audience is given a chance to get a glimpse of hardships that people in the real world face. It is up to them to either act on it, or perceive it as a form of entertainment,” states Rayyan. “The story is quite complex and it took quite a few reading sessions for my cast to understand the play as a story. And I believe that’s the complexity with which people in the LGBTQ+ community survive through life,” he adds.

Abishek Srinivasan

I Identify As.... - A Peek Into the Closet will take place on December 9 at 4 pm and 7 pm, at Medai- The Stage, at Alwarpet.

“The audience’s view on this issue will be subjective. We, as a team, really hope that no one in the show gets offended, and hence, the efforts and caution towards each movement and dialogue is done cautiously,” elucidates Rayyan.

Ankita Nair
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