15th Bharangam Diary: notes, rants and experiences

DAY 7: 11th Jan 2013

9 Days Newspaper

Concept & Direction: Joy Maisnam (Treasure Art Association, Imphal)

A very well-conceived script from the actual news items published in 9 consecutive days in a newspaper. This play was a mix of strong content and improvised stageplay. The performances were not up to the mark but all is forgiven when the text and the environment can move the audience to tears. The repetition of the civil society and the political class regarding the absurd AFSPA, Sharmila’s eternal hunger strike and omnipresent guns is an argument that needs to change now. There has been enough talk, but the time has come for some action. Almost anarchist in its meaning, this production urged the audience to wake up and acknowledge humanity.

A special mention is essential of the woman who wailed her child’s death for 5 minutes straight. It was heart clutching and painful beyond measure.

This is Joy Maisnam’s first play as a director and we hope that he has more things to say in the future.

Dhawala Bheeshana

Based on: Jean Paul Sartre’s Men without Shadows

Director: Dharmasiri Bandarnayake (TrikonE Cultural Foundation, Srilanka)

It was sad that there were no subtitles because the play was sounding very interesting and deep in meaning. The existential philosophy of Sartre was well captured in the plot where every character questioned his or her own reason for doing what they were doing, and acting in a certain way. Though the performances were typically theatrical, and the set grandiose; it in no way means that the production was any less because of it.

Having being introduced to Sartre’s play, this might be a masterpiece if adapted to an Indian political context.

DAY 8: 12th Jan 2013

The food hub is a very good place to discuss future projects, especially in the morning. It is quiet. No one bothers anyone. And there is no compulsion to buy food. So us perennially broke masses of the world have a comfortable place to sit and chat about the next film, play or anything else that is productive.

Prem Ki Bhoot Katha

Based on: novel by Vibhuti Narain Rai

Script & Direction: Dinesh Khanna (Pehchan, Delhi)

Assistant Director: Kritika Pande

An eerie, foggy atmosphere welcomed us as we entered the auditorium, seconds before the play commenced. The environment was set to scare, intrigue and charm us with the tale of ghosts, their love and a whodunit thrown in for good measure. But the plot failed to capture attention.

It is a dangerous move to adapt a Hindi novel into a play script and keep the language as is. The problem is that the chaste dialogues create a sense of humour which is unwarranted (this is sad, but true). Even the performers deliver lines in a way that is stereotypical of such language, which adds further woes. Prem ki Bhoot Katha needed to be thought of from the perspective of the audience for it to be truly successful. To take the viewers beyond the obvious, and into the underworld of ghosts and shadows, it was essential that they connect with the characters and the plot. A few must have, but many didn’t, as was evident by the laughter and chuckles at inappropriate times during the play.

The set design, light design and character movements reminded one of German expressionism with everything heightened and unnaturally ‘perpectived’. The angular rooftops, lights illuminating romance, sex, grief and imprisonment, and the movement of actors on stage all are examples of this line of thought. But in all this effort, one might argue that the set designer went overboard as the stage looked cramped (or the design might have been imagined keeping in mind a bigger stage).

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