The play “An Iliad” to be showcased today at Bharat Rang Mahotsav

by February 9, 2019 0 comments

Bharat Rang MahotsavThey say theatre is a reflection of society, no matter where it comes from or the characters who are in the spotlight. The stage can have multiple interpretations and sides to it, depending on a director’s perception. While the 20th Bharat Rang Mahotsav celebrates theatre and its various colours, the international directors are showcasing their culture and their perceptions of the world, theatre and arts, with “An Iliad” bring one of the most anticipated presentations to be made in the event.

Most of them feel that the space has been very ‘well-worked upon’ to showcase the best of drama. “I am still learning, but it is appealing to see the festival’s extravaganza and how wide it is. It’s very well organised and has turned out to be exactly the way that we had imagined a grand theatre festival should be,” says director Guy Roberts from Czech Republic, who is a first-time visitor to India.

As he recreates Homer’s greatest epic Iliad as An Iliad with Rebecca Greene Udden, he talks about how he focuses on the story of fighters, Achilles and Hector, which is told from a poet’s point of view. This is the character of Homer himself. “He is here to tell the story of the Trojan war and about rage, anger and hatred and how we cannot get past that. It is a modern take on how fights have been going on since forever. It just gives a reference of the wars that collide with the ancient epic of the Greeks and Trojans,” shares he.

He explains that the play has moments of both traditionality and modernity, “There are moments in the play where I act out the traditional text and sometimes where I explain it in a very easy-to-understand modern language.”

A theatre is a just a play of characters, or so believes Roberts. Since his play is a depiction of an after-war destruction scene, he says that this could be anywhere and fought over anything. “It is not just about the Greek war, it examines the human nature through the two characters. People are the same all across the world. It could be today’s Syrian war, or a civilian war in some other country. The play is everywhere and nowhere, all at the same time,” says he.

For him, it’s simply storytelling that makes all the difference even if one is devoid of any costumes, stage or props. He feels that “they have the simplest show but sometimes even being simple could be the most difficult thing.” So there is only a small team of five people who are both on stage and at the back.

While Roberts feels that theatre examines the human nature and tries to “present” the reality to the audience, director Sara Zaker from Bangladesh also believes that it “reflects” that part of the society which is in front of people but they don’t accept readily.

Zaker, who adapts Dario Fo and Franca Rame’s The Open Couple at the festival, feels that theatre is important to make the society realise that there are things that are important and need to be delved into deeply rather than simply overlooking them.

Her play is a story of a couple where the husband has multiple affairs. This disturbs the wife to such an extent that she tries to kill herself each time that she finds out about his newest affair with a different woman. She says that in our society polygamy has been very prevalent. “It has had a vast historical background, not just in Bangladesh but universally. There have been kings who have had numerous wives and partners. Here, everytime the man has an affair, he tries to pacify his wife by saying that she was at a liberty to do the same,” says she.

The director says that “it was time we articulated our thoughts about the polygamous relationship that permeates all levels of society.”

Even though the original play had been written during the early 1980s, she feels that what makes theatre special, “is that it is timeless. It depends on the narrative and the message that it tries to portray. It’s not time-specific. It tries to show how the couple’s relationship is not functioning well and that is true with many others as well.”

The husband, in her play, tries to comfort his wife by telling her that they could call it an open relationship and even she could go out looking for affairs. He soon finds out that his wife has fallen in love with another man and is furious just like she used to be. The play, Zaker tells us, ends with a gunshot after the husband goes inside the bathroom. “No one knows whether he really died or he was pretending. It’s open to the audience’s interpretation and the way they perceive it. However, I wanted to give a substantive message to the audience which they could take back,” says she.
It’s the first time that she is showcasing at the festival and Zaker feels that they have displayed “excellent professionalism. The festival’s arrangements are enough to inspire you to tell your story with complete determination. They give a time which we have to follow. We had given them all the architectural measurements for our props and explained the way they had to be constructed. And indeed, they were exactly what we had wanted. There are so many plays and each of it is given equal importance. It’s a wonderful experience.”

About how theatre has evolved over the time, she says that it hasn’t become a regular activity or as a medium of survival and livelihood. She says, “That way, we are not doing good. Either it will have to become a medium of business and go places. If one looks at Bangladesh, it’s not something that provides bread at the end of the day. One can’t survive just by acting.”
While Roberts feels, “Theatre is becoming more and more technically advanced with gadgets coming into the space. But theatre will always be about people sharing a space and experience. It happens only for that moment and then it goes away, hence it’s very unique.”

Writer: Chahak Mittal

Courtesy: The Pioneer

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