GAUTAM CHATTERJEE

Stree Preksaa “Chitralekha”gave the novel a dramatic touch.

This is an interesting Dionysus unlike the Greek one. The same semi-circle ambience, huge circular stairs and an open air arena, but the tragedy is Indian, not Greek.

Since 1974, a theatre group for women, ‘Stree Preksaa’ has been performing Indian plays every year on this Dionysus situated inside the premises of the Krishnamurty Foundation Indiain Varanasi.

Indian audience is only familiar with open air experiments like “Andha Yug” or “Tughlaq” at Purana Quila, Delhi, by Ibrahim Alkazi, but here, the director Irawati does something different.

“For almost three decades, after B.V. Karanth organised a theatre workshop here in 1974, I started this interesting form of arena theatre here where I have directed more than 25 original Hindi and Urdu scripts,” she says.

This winter, she chose the famous Hindi novel, “Chitralekha” by Bhagawaticharan Verma and presented its drama adaptation in a form that suits this Indian Dionysus.

One would have assumed this production to be an ornamental play performed by women, about Chandragupta (Varsha Naik), Beejgupta (Kalyani Jha), Kumargiri (Ajanta Mukherjee)or Chanakya (Neha). But the creativity in the production set it part. The director has scripted this adaptation in such a way that while retaining the soul of the novel it added to it dramatic beauty.The situations were vividly interwoven to raise the central question in this three-hour long play , which is sin . In this Dionysus, scene-arrangements were effectively interesting. There were more than six deep light spots divided into zones to distinguish the various places of action, be it the royal court or theashram.

The acting of almost all the amateur artistes were commendable, especially that of the central character, Chitralekha (Garima Dubey).