Theatre

Treat for the senses

Raising concern for refugees: A scene from “Richard III”

Raising concern for refugees: A scene from “Richard III”  

Raising contemporary issues, the foreign entries at the 21st Bharat Rang Mahotsav made a lasting impact

As always, apart from the Indian entries, the 21st Bharat Rang Mahotsav (BRM) saw participation of theatre practitioners from across the world. This year, audiences got a chance to watch ten plays that gave them an idea of the American and European theatre and, of course, the creative mood in the neighbourhood. From the plight of women in war to growing xenophobia, the plays dealt with contemporary issues with traditional forms and mythical tales

Russian play “Djhyrybyna: the Warrior Woman” was undoubtedly the most enchanting foreign play of the festival. A true treat for the senses, the lyrical style of this play resembled like an old pastoral song resonating in the hills and meadows.

“The Trojan Women”, the second Russian play, depicted the sad story of the women left behind, after a war is over. Vasilisa Tapliakova, director of the play, said that she used this ancient Greek tale of Euripides in an effort to present the tragedy to the younger generation, living in a world still not worth living for the women. They need to learn from these tales, tragedies the women face at the end of each war. It brings the play near to Dharmveer Bharti’s modern classic “Andha Yug”, where a grieving Gandhari curses Krishna for the loss of her sons. Effort of the young director was “not to make the play’s situation similar to the contemporary problems,” but to let the audience create its own associations with today’s war-torn world.

Simiarly, Nepalese play, “Kumari and the Beast”, depicted the woman-power at play. Presented in the dance-drama style, “Kumari and the Beast” presented the religio-historical aspect of the Nepalese society, depicting the tradition of choosing a young prepubescent girl as Kumari, who is worshipped by the people like goddess till the age of puberty. This, along with the other play from Nepal, “Mahabhoj”, represented two contrasting aspects of the Nepali society of today. Based on Mannu Bhandari’s novel and play of the same name, “Mahabhoj” narrates the tale of ordinary humans forced to act as puppets in the vicious grip of the system.

A strong political undercurrent was best visible in the Sri Lankan play “Grease Yaka Returns”. It tries to understand the deeper fears in the minds of the people, created completely out of nothing sometimes, to exploit the differences between the communities. Director of the play Nishantha De Silva asserted that globally people are finding solace in the arms of what constitutes smaller and smaller communities. For Nishantha, the solution seems to be in not getting carried away. He felt that the leftover issues of the colonial era are now coming to the forefront, creating tensions.

The other play that made a strong comment on the political system was “Mrityu Ghar”. The play from Bangladesh, an adaptation of German playwright Dea Loher’s 1992 play “Olga’s Room”, tells the story of the torture of Ila Mitra, a Communist peasants’ movement activist of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) in the early fifties. Director Mukul Ahmed said that it was a conscious decision to take actors from India, stressing that cultural dialogue between the societies is important. Another Bangladeshi play “Tragedy of the Polahbari” was a serious comment on the well-entrenched system of corruption because of politician-bureaucrat-corporate nexus.

Wendy Jehlan’s “Conference of the Birds”, the US entry, used Sufi poetry of 12th century to counter xenophobia in its many manifestations. Re-contextualising the classical Sufi text with a non-verbal approach, Wendy created a fluid narrative through flexibility of the body and rhythmic lyricism.

Czech Republic’s play “Richard III”, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s historical work about the ruthless King of England, tried to raise concerns about the plight of the refugees all over the world.

“Live Nukes” from the US was a silent comedy. It made excellent use of physical action on the stage to narrate the comic story of how two idiots working in a nuclear facility accidentally launched a nuclear weapon.

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Printable version | Apr 10, 2020 7:18:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/treat-for-the-senses/article30870540.ece

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