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Those days Harking back a past
Those days Harking back a past

A discussion on contemporary theatre scene worked like a litmus test

Theatre has lost the force and commitment of the 70s and 80s,” said theatre person and filmmaker M.S. Satyu, at a recent discussion on “Contemporary Theatre Atmosphere”. The discussion was organised by Suchitra Rangashikshana Kendra in association with Karnataka Nataka Academy.

The rather rambling, tedious discussion gained significance with some important issues it threw up. Some of them came as questions from the audience and some emerged as Satyu spoke.“What’s the point of doing theatre everyday? If content doesn’t drive the form, then it is futile,” he said. Theatre was a movement in the Seventies, with every single play, in every part of the country taking up an issue which was directed at the establishment. Hence, theatre was a powerful political tool. “Today, I find that most plays suffer from the lack of a socio-political awareness,” he arraigned.

Satyu felt that theatre’s past gained its strength also because of playwrights and directors who had a deep sense of social commitment. “Now, I can’t see one good play in sight,” he maintained and felt Prasanna’s contribution as a director is major, despite the fact that he is torn between Marxism and Gandhism.

Many in the audience worried as to why, as a society we are leaning towards comedy. So much so that even when plays deal with a serious issue it gets translated into a comedy. Sathyu attributed it to the numbing influence of films. B. Suresh, director of television serials and films, took the thought further to say how like everything else, theatre too relies heavily on cosmetic value neglecting the core concerns. Hence, even when we discuss crucial issues we seem to expend our energies to work out the flourishes rather than reaching the truth of things. “My own play ‘Girija Ke Sapne’ in Hindi bears testimony to this. The Mumbai audience wants theatre to be packaged in such a way that it is stress free.”

Satyu spoke against Badal Sircar’s kind of theatre in which actors double as wall, bridge and a host of inanimate objects. Satyu, in one stroke seemed to demolish the concept of body and mind regarded as powerful tools in Third Theatre, Sircar’s powerful theatre ideology. In fact, with his Third Theatre, Sircar had set in motion what was considered revolutionary, the non-proscenium community theatre.

Luckily, Suresh came to Sircar’s rescue and drew the attention of the audience to the concept of Bio-Mechanics, a method of physical acting which was originally developed by the legendary Meyerhold. This “outside in” approach ran counter to Stanislavsky’s approach of “inside out” and “as someone who belongs originally to street theatre, I can relate to it,” he explained.

Not much may have come out of the discussion, but there were questions and attempts were made to see if they had answers.

DEEPA GANESH

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