Friday Review » Theatre

Updated: September 19, 2013 17:47 IST

Play of our times

Muralidhara Khajane
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The subtext Focuses on exploitation
The subtext Focuses on exploitation

Ee Kelaginavaru, a Kannada adaptation of Maxim Gorky’s Lower Depths, will be staged this weekend

The Bangalore Chapter of National School of Drama (NSD) will stage Ee Kelaginavaru, a Kannada play based on Maxim Gorky’s Lower Depths. Adapted by B.T. Desai, the play will be staged from September 20 to 22 at Guru Nanak Bhavan on Millers Road.

Chidamabara Rao Jambe, the former director of Rangayana, directed the play for the students of theatre technique and production repertory.

The production is the result of a six-month course. Speaking about the relevance of the play, Jambe said, “Lower Depths written between 1901 and 1902 depicts a group of impoverished Russians living in a shelter near Volga. Konstantin Stanislavski first directed the play.” It was his first major success and a hallmark of Russian Socialist realism.

When it was first staged, the play was criticised for its pessimism and ambiguous ethics. The presentation of the lower classes was viewed as dark. Gorky seemed more interested in creating memorable characters rather than in advancing a formal plot.

“The play is a masterpiece. The theme of harsh truth versus the comforting lie pervades the play, as most of the characters choose to deceive themselves.”

French film maker Jean Renoir made a film based on the play in 1936. As did Akira Kurosawa in 1957. In India, Chetan Anand began his career with Neecha Nagar, which is also based on the play. There was also a 130 minute feature film, Jaaga Doreyuttade (Spaces for rent), produced by Gangwayz. The play has been staged at Ninasam and Rangayana.

“B.T. Desai adapted Lower Depths into Kannada about 25 years ago and it was first staged in 1986. He adapted the play to become a story of our times and society.

“The sub-text of the play focuses on exploitation of the impoverished by the selfish as well as capitalist and feudalist forces. The characters represent various phases of society. The play is being staged after a long gap.”

On directing students of theatre technique and production repertory, Jambe said, “Students will get the opportunity to enact on stage what they have learnt in class so far and it provides an opportunity for both the actors and set designers to mingle and perform. They have rehearsed the play for more than 45 days.”

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