Of late there have been welcome developments in local theatre. Youngsters have been taking an active interest in scripting, direction, acting and other aspects of theatre with novel ideas and that has been attracting young viewers to it in small-size auditoria. Kamfucious Productions’ two short plays in English as part of Bare Bones Returns (ATMA, 28/07) under the direction of Kamlesh Acharya are noteworthy for their unconventional form and themes.
Though Who Am I? has a bit of action in it, the first play Girl Talk is a conversation between two grown-up girls, friends who have not met after school days. The talk reveals two diametrically opposite attitudes to life, shaped by their choices and circumstances. Vinita has specialized in Sanskrit, has settled as a successful wife and mother and has a healthy attitude to men. She is cheerfully inclined, doesn’t have a complaining temperament and seems to have solutions to problems people develop. Jahnvi, the visiting friend, is her antithesis.
This friend, a young woman of a slight build, wears her attitude on the face and minces no words to express her repugnance for men. On quite a few occasions while she is on a corporate job, men seem to have sexually exploited her. This has led her to look at all men as ‘devils incarnate’ and choose to remain single. Vinita would like her to forget it all and forgive. Suggesting their kinship with rose flowers and quoting a Sanskrit sookta she asserts women are ‘flag-bearers of love’.
Kamlesh, who has developed both the scripts with a bit of idealism, continues to have a conflict of ideas rather than action in Who Am I? as well. Even as his rise to a top position in the corporate world is being celebrated, David (32) withdraws himself in a corner brooding and asks philosophically ‘Who am I?’ when his girl friend in the office inquires. A wanderer gets him to realize that happiness is not in the material success we seek. It lies within each one of us.
These themes are presented largely through conversations without visible dramatic action. In the format prompted by what the director calls his ‘philosophy’ there are no costumes, no lights and sound effects or music, no stage props, not even any makeup. The physical movement is only casual. The voice does not seek a dramatic modulation. The stage is a raised platform having two chairs and a stool on it in the first play and remains empty in the second. A low-cost production becomes affordable.
Looked at closely, it’s a catch-22 situation. It’s not Grotowsky’s Poor Theatre that discarded what he thought was paraphernalia to a core theatre experience but welcomes dramatic action and voice movement. And, with economy for practical purposes, the advantage of lights, music and costumes, in particular, enhancing dramatic intensity and offering a third dimension to the happeings gets rejected. If explored seriously however proximity with the viewers at the venue had the potential for direct communication. Grotowsky is known to have welcomed the audience right on the ‘stage’.
All said, Kamfucious team is welcome with its relatively bold initiative. The script by a budding poet leaves scope for being more natural and having depth. As the wanderer, Kamlesh demonstrates a flair for acting. With the right attire and a look appropriately made up in the conventional format, he would have appeared something of a mystic with a haggard look as initially described by the girl. Kanksha and Garima are brilliant enough doing what probably they are good at – chatting non-stop! Their contribution as actors is in inserting appropriate pauses and in getting the chat interactively meaningful. Ayyan is the bewildered corporate man seeking identity at a wrong time. The actors should be aware, incidentally, there were slips in pronouncing words like ‘hypocrite’, ‘precious’ and ‘successful’.
It must be appreciated that ATMA has made its auditorium available for such performances and rehearsals for them.
Photograph Courtesy : Organiser
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