A play of text and image

In the vibrant theatre scene of Bengaluru, there thrive a number of theatre groups following different trajectories. Theatre On Your Own (TOYO) is one such group which is trying to carve a niche for itself. The group takes up classics and experiments with it. Since its formation in 2015, TOYO has staged Dharamvir Bharti’s Andha Yug, Mahesh Dattani’s Dance Like a Man and Vijay Tendulkar’s Sakharam Binder.

Last weekend at Atta Galatta, the outfit presented the thematic staged reading of Sakharam Binder, a bookbinder, who picks up women abandoned by their families as domestic servants and sex partners. The women are free to leave whenever they want, but have to obey him as long as they live with him.

He thinks he is honest as against the society, especially the men who exploit their wives. It was not a usual dramatic rendition of the play. The artistic director Sarabjeet Das envisaged the stage as a book. A book like object in wood had pages with painted images on them. The pages were flipped according to the scene. Two actors read the play as is but not all the lines were enacted. Sakharam, Dawood, Lakshmi and Champa didn’t speak their dialogues. While Sakharam (played by Utkarsh Gaharwar) and Lakshmi (Faria Fatima) emoted a scene, sutradhar Rahul Joshi, Sakharam 2 (Devashish) and Champa (Debanjana Nath) sat on the stage and spoke their dialogues.

Faria Fatima, actor, marketing head and assistant producer of the play, explains that the format borrows from abstract art. “The readers become the text and actors become a body, an image and it is a play on that. We also don’t enact every scene though the script was read as is - barring three scenes to make it shorter - because we want readers to imagine a few images in their minds,” elaborates Faria, who is a software professional.

Sarabjeet directed and designed the play on Skype over six months from the US. “Like Arjuna in the Mahabharata, we only want to focus on the goal and storytelling via staged productions. The structure, strategy and orientation of our shows might be very different from other groups in the city but our end goal is the same as them — to make theatre stand out as a form of art that can become a viable career option,” writes Sarabjeet over email.

Faria reveals that experimentation is a part of every production they undertake. With Aadhe Adhure, the outfit tried to innovate with shadow theatre whereas with Dance Like a Man, they collaborated with Bharatanatya dancers. Another interesting thing about the group is that they try to make their own props. “All the lights that you saw on stage were done by us. Not a single light from Atta Galatta was used,” says Faria.

TOYO is committed to bring these classics in a format that has not been done anywhere so far. Reasoning their preference for classic plays, Sarabjeet says, “This is why we started our segment Toyo-Chuski Natak Ki. The schedule is tight, sharp and the duration of commitment is less for the cast. This gives us an opportunity to come across truly sincere people for the team and plan our commercials for our other segment TOYO- Originals. And, of course, when you hold classics in your hand you automatically become more responsible and after doing some 40 odd shows so far we can say we could make our presence felt in the city as a sincere theatre group.”

In April, the group is planning to stage Dance Like a Man again.

(For more information on the group email stage4toyo

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2021 4:33:39 AM |

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