Theatre Theatre

Missed communication

A still from the play

A still from the play  


Sutradhar’s ‘Oleanna’ goes places even as it raises pertinent questions

Vinay Varma’s excitement is palpable. Sutradhar’s adaptation of the play Oleanna (The Curse of Modern Education) has been chosen to be performed at the fourth National Minerva Theatre Festival in Kolkata at the Madhusudan Manch on January 8, 2019. “This is the only play from South India to make it to the prestigious festival,” he enthuses.

Vinay plays a university professor in Oleanna that was originally written by David Mamet. Directed by Bhaskar Shevalkar, this two-character drama between a professor and his student played by Supriya Aysola has been adapted to suit Indian sensibilities. Inidentally, Sutradhar has a three-year exclusive pan-India rights from the writer to stage the play till 2021.

The 90-minute production with a five-minute interval doesn’t follow a set pattern. The rehearsals are complex as the actors do not have a conventional script with dialogues to follow. A conversational style between the characters unfolds on stage. “Each one is trying to make a point, without even listening to each other. The irony is the whole play is based on the education system, where listening is an integral part. The italics, capital words/phrases/sentences had to be understood in totality and isolation, because some of these are repeated in ordinary text as well,” he points out.

Continued values

Bhaskar Shewalkar shares his point of view: “What hit me the most is the fact that how ‘some basic missed communication’ (a phrase from the play) can lead to disaster in one’s life. How important is communication and the listening that has to go with it? People must learn to communicate clearly, and ensure that their audience have understood it. Else the play, much like in life, or as in Devdas, where a small mistake ruins many lives — will take down many with it.”

Vinay is optimistic that even with two characters, the script, and writing style will keep the audience engrossed. His challenge, however, was to ‘sound confused but look confident’. “I had to play the patriarch and play it subtly and also display covertly an attitude of ‘I know, and you do not’. The audience will be inspired to look deep into our education system. They will fall short of words to express what they saw. They will probably pay more attention to their conversations. The most interesting character is a telephone which rings, sometimes inappropriately; and thereby hangs a tale.”

With New Year just three days away, will a serious play appeal to the audience in a party mood? “Seriousness is a state of mind, intense as the play sounds, it has many moments of dry and dark humour. The sarcasm needs to be grasped quickly as the script is American. Besides, I’ve never looked at theatre as pure entertainment.”

(Sutradhar presents ‘Oleanna’ by David Mamet and directed by Bhaskar Shewalkar on December 29 and 30 at Lamakaan, 7.30 pm. Tickets on

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Related Topics Theatre
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jan 25, 2020 10:32:13 PM |

Next Story