The year started with theater in India (theatre groups) doing an all India tour, Writer’s Block coming to Pune and a Shakespeare Comedy Theatre Festival taking place at Nehru Memorial; all in the month of January. And now, Wide Wings Media treated the audience with Pune’s first all night theatre lineup: Nattyasattak Rajni. Veritably, the year is turning out to be a Year of the Arts.The inauguration took place at the hands of Dr. Mohan Agashe! The venue of the all nighter was the grand : Yashvantrao Chavan Natyagruha; where the Vinod Doshi Festival takes place.As you enter the venue you see standees of the the night out and when you enter the aisle photo standees meet you. Indian Theatre growing into an industry ; where Indian is a multiplicity of ideas and art forms!
The much talked about ‘White Rabbit Red Rabbit’ by the Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpor kicked off the festival. Actors like Sagar Deshmukh, Amey Wagh, Mukta Barve, Sai Tamhankar, Atul Kumar and Atul Pethe have also performed the piece; if it is one. The concept of the performance is something like this: the actor receives the script for the first time and he reads it directly on stage. So, the story, the lot; all is mystery to both the audience and the artist.Girish Kulkarni received a huge applause which refused to die down!
Language: Marathi, Hindi
The Natak Company performed it’s eclectic piece to an inquisitive-attention by the audience. The play starts off with (Bhosanka) Abhay Mahajan walking on stage trying to buy a mobile phone and taking a guess at the model and price: Nokia, Lenovo, Iphone, Karbon.
You are following the plot and what the words mean, but after sometime as the models of phones keep changing; you clearly know the play is much more about what the story line reveals. The use of words and reference it has and the meaning is played extensively in the script. The British philosopher Frege also took up this problem of meaning and reference in his philosophy. So, the theme of the script may not be entirely new, but yes it has bearing on different culture; like take it meaning.
Can a city assign a different meaning to words than other cities; could name of places be used as words ; meaning the end of a play ? The Natak Company knowingly-unknowingly explores these problems in the script.It is clear than the director Dharmakirti Sumant is talking about decadence of language. Due to repeating of words to drill a meaning to the audience; the play at time is very tangible and riveting. A philosophical nature to a play, absurdism, disarray if it is executed well; certainly stays with the audience.The characters in the play are Abeka, Loly Loly, Mopremimadhyam,Oot and Comya. “Much of it was meaningless, but it seemed to zone in on the kind of communication that exists these days,” says Sumant.
The set had transparent sitting boxes, which could be sat upon; and Bhosanka is all over it. In a scene he is lying on it , reminding me of Suppandi; a l-o-l look with his tongue out. The little set used built the aesthetics of the stage. All the characters are disarranged on stage and justify their role in a kind of organic design on stage. An old man, tries to justify his role by linking everything to Pune; also holding a tennis racket in shorts at the same time. Though his words give out what he wants or is trying to do, the impact of his constant chanting of Pune-Pune is powerful! Comya is dressed in a blazer with no shirt or vest and a lungi! He keeps talking about his plight!The characters keep moving to a driving music in their own space, in their own way; is so wonderful. It keeps your attention and all the time you are wondering what is happening.The script suggests the decadence of language which has been the concern of filmmakers like Werner Herzog too! Werner and Frege would certainly be intrigued by philosophical problems discussed in Indian theater.
The audience loved the piece!
It’s two am and you cannot sleep because Bhawar Singh has a “Dilwale Dulhaniya” poster as his set. You can read my last review of “Bhawar” here. Shivraj’s responses in a theatrical environment has become quicker; than last when I saw him perform. Also, the symmetry of his personality on stage more defined. It could also be because this time I saw him perform at a distance from the stage.
The change of music when he gets a phone call and the live prompting on the phone is hilarious. The songs that play old-Hindi movie makes you feel so connected to the protagonist. The control over the set that Shivraj is one of the most rare things I have seen in theatre pieces. Also, when he goes to the back to switch off the factory main switch; and then he breaks his own shelter.A colossal set or minimal set could outdo the performer in a piece; not with Shivraj. The blend is just perfect! Congrats to the Thespo winner for pulling off a piece , in just a night’s time!
There is a raunchy-honesty when Theatron do a play in English, be it ‘The Case of Mistaken Identity’ or Anathema. The actors hold the language close to their skin and use the accent in common parlance. I loved the accent of the actors on stage and probably a simple accent helped the horror element pour to the full in the audience.
Three roommates (Sameer, Shekhar, Jai) experience supernatural activity in their flat and have their own reasons not to move out. One day their dogs start howling to get out of the apartment having seen something and dont return. This starts to worry the roommates. One roommates gets an light-alarm to check whether this supernatural being is inside the flat or outside. They test it only to be scared out of their soul when a ghost pops down on them.
The timing when the skeleton flashes on the window was coruscating. The play has a good way for becoming a horror web series; also a trend setting piece to Indian theater. Add to it the original-Christian music takes you to a horror of another culture. Indian plays are global in nature!
Language: Kannada, Marathi
I saw the play Ulagaddi last year and this year too. The set design is mesmerizing. It is directed by Shivraj again. The play has the setting of a floods in Uttarakhand. A tree is the scarce remains of a neighborhood and village. The protagonist (who speaks Marathi) and a girl (who speaks Kannada) make efforts to hang on to the tree.The way they adjust their bodies on the tree; while the waves of flood water scatter the human remains around is heart rendering. It is an experience everytime you watch it and you cannot but love the execution. Both the actors were comfortable in their role; of showing their characters stranded. “Ulagaddi” refers to the onion which comes floating and is the Kannada word for it.The moments when the garbage is flowing on the stage, fireflies is just a treat. The lights and sound add to the atmosphere well. And the struggle feels vindictive when the army relief arrives. Ulagaddi is such a treat and a Purushottam Karandak winning, Indian play.
Jay-Deep and Ketan treated the audience with “O Rangrez” and the all night out could not be complete without the music. Also, it added a kind of patriotic fervor to the night! The live , energy-filled anchoring by Bhairavi Kushal Khot kept the audience live at Yashvantrao Chavan Natyagruha!Nattyasattak Rajni saw a big-big footfall! Theatre in India is a way of life, truly.The audience may also love to see a street play, all night festival!