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SRAVASTI DATTA
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Event Vaclav Havel's play The Memorandum, a satire on bureaucracy ,will be staged next week

It is play timeFor director Sachin Durjalephoto: Bhagya prakash k.
It is play timeFor director Sachin Durjalephoto: Bhagya prakash k.

If you are familiar with the grind of corporate life, you will be able to identify with Vaclav Havel's play “The Memorandum”, which will be performed at Ranga Shankara.

Havel, the last President of Czechoslovakia and the first President of the Czech Republic who passed away last year, was a well-known essayist and playwright. In “The Memorandum”, a satire on corporate bureaucracy, a lone man in an unnamed organisation appears to be the victim of bureaucratic tyranny when a new scientific language called “Ptydepe” is imposed on all the employees. The powers at play thwart every attempt of the man to resist this. The action takes place in three rooms in the office.

Marking theatre personality Sachin Gurjale's directorial debut, “The Memorandum” wonders if human values are insignificant in an increasingly materialistic world, driven by objectivity and technology.

“The most immediately identifiable theme of the play is the powerlessness an individual feels in a corrupt bureaucratic or corporate set up,” says Sachin. “Everyone, at some point, has questioned and been rebellious. The system, however, beats us down and we are compelled to stop questioning.”

Sachin has mostly stayed true to the script.“The script has a a lot of repetition, done deliberately by the playwright. But we had to cut it down to strike a balance and ensure accessibility. We also incorporated minor improvisations such as portraying what life is like in the city during the course of a day.”

The term “Ptydepe” is pronounced differently in different productions. In fact, Havel was interested in the role of language as a tool of oppression. “Many of his plays explore the way language is used by regimes to propagate their ideology.” The cast and director discussed the play for three months before they began rehearsing. “We discovered quite a bit while discussing the play. We found the play used a lot of absurd elements and metaphors. Havel used language as a metaphor. He has used a fire extinguisher as a subjective symbol; people have different opinions on what it represents.” Sachin prefers the audience to interpret these symbols in their own way, rather than him explaining their significance in words.

Sachin is glad to find that eight actors out of the nine are doing theatre full time. “This has made me hopeful about the fate of Bangalore theatre. There are people who are passionate about theatre despite it not being a lucrative career.”

In an interview with the French newspaper La Monde, Havel describes what “The Memorandum” signifies. “There are no exact guidelines. There are probably no guidelines at all. The only thing I can recommend at this stage is a sense of humour, an ability to see things in their ridiculous and absurd dimensions, to laugh at others and at ourselves, a sense of irony regarding everything that calls out for parody in this world.”

The members of the cast includes Niren Saldanah, Kanchan Bhattacharyya, Pritham Kumar, Lekha Naidu, Ashish D'Abreo, Deepika Arwind, Anshul Pathak, Vinod Ravindran and Rebecca Spurgeon.

“The Memorandum” will be performed at 7.30 p.m. from January 31 to February 2 at Ranga Shankara, J.P. Nagar. Tickets are priced at Rs. 150 and are available at www.indianstage.in or www.bookmyshow.com. For tele bookings call 9535779953.

SRAVASTI DATTA

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