A representative slice of plays from the vibrant Marathi non-commercial theatre circuit.

The Pratibimb Marathi Natya Utsav presented by the NCPA Centre for the Promotion of Arts and Culture Trust is now in its third year. Each year the festival aims to present a representative slice of plays from the vibrant Marathi non-commercial theatre circuit. In recent years, theatre practitioners who inhabit this space have created several plays, which experiment with text, genre and direction and challenge audience expectations.

This year two significant plays form a part of the selection. Marathi playwright G.P. Deshpande’s Satyashodhak — which has been produced and performed by the Pune Municipal Kamgar Union workers and directed by Atul Pethe — uses the folk drama style developed by the Satyashodak Samaj and the social movement founded by Jotiba and Savitribai Phule in its time.

The satirical and robust Shivaji Underground in Bhimnagar Mohalla written by Rajkumar Tangde with concept, lyrics and music by Shahir Shambaji Bhagat and directed by Nandu Madhav is a full-bodied critique of the business of political inheritance and symbolism.

As in previous years discussions with the cast and crew will take place after the performances adding an element of live and spontaneous critiquing. Since the plays selected are contemporary and ongoing, there is immense value in this for both theatre practitioners as well as lay audiences.

The festival opens with Chitragoshthi written and directed by Sushama Deshpande and produced by theatre group Awishkar. Actors were first put through an art appreciation workshop. The play was then structured with the material yielded by their responses to the dramatic possibilities inherent in artist Sudhir Patwardhan’s paintings of life in Mumbai. Manaswini Lata Ravindra’s Lakh Lakh Chanderi examines a fractured mother-son relationship played out over five decades of a changing social and cultural scenario with a sharply personal narrative at its core. Among other plays are Shokaparva, written and directed by Pramod Kale, which deals with the Draupadi-Gandhari relationship in the aftermath of the Mahabharata. Apoornat Apoornam, also written and directed by Kale, centres around three individuals and the ritualistic playing of a game.

The theme emerging from the selection of plays this year appears to fall within the definitions of a broadly defined social and humanist theatre inflected with personal nuances.

Pratibimb Marathi Natya Utsav

Where: Experimental Theatre, NCPA, Mumbai

When: August 3-7