Kothakar Choritra Kothay Rekhechho – Dearth of original ideas persists in Bengali theatre

Posted by Kaahon Desk On May 16, 2019

On 24th February, 2019, Sansriti, a reputed theatre company of Bengal launched their new production titled Kothakar Choritra Kothay Rekhechho at Academy of Fine Arts. This play has been adapted from ‘Six Characters in Search of an Author’, originally written by the Nobel laureate from Italy, Luigi Pirandello. In Bengali, this text had previously been adapted by Rudraprasad Sengupta and staged under the directorship of Ajitesh Bandyopadhyay by Nandikar in the year 1961, titled as Natyakarer Sondhane Chhoti Choritra. This adaptation of Rudraprasad Sengupta had been very popular among audiences during that time. This particular production under consideration now has been adapted, edited and directed by Debesh Chattopadhyay.

Previous Kaahon Theatre Review:

Luigi Pirandello had written the play Six Characters in Search of an Author in the year 1921. The theatrical form of this text is completely different from the common mainstream theatrical forms. The author has tried to show that the process of creating a play is in no way different from the real life, which is entangled with different human relationships among various human characters with various shades of psychological strata, human emotions. This play portrays the collision of art and real mundane life, rather the interrelationship of illusion and reality. In other mainstream plays, the characters enact the pre-formed written dialogues.  But here, in this play, the characters enact those events which they have faced in their real life and consequently changing the structured narrative of the play as the journey of the characters proceeds. Thus the original narrative of the play gets into oblivion, while the narrative generated from the enactments come to the forefront. In this exercise, the characters gets into various arguments which shadow the pre-thought message or politics that once the play meant to derive at. Even in our everyday life, we express ourselves to the society only a part which, we think, can be manipulated while a large part of our reality encompassing the truth about ourselves remains in the dark. A fine line between imagination and actuality continues to distract us. The quest to find answers to these bifurcations about truth is presented through this text. This is completely psychological play which delves into human emotions and it surgically forces audiences to face the real perceptions of truth. Though the subject of the play is tragic but the language of presentation remains comic.

Now let’s focus on the adaptation by Debesh Chattopadhyay through his play Kothakar Choritra Kothay Rekhecho. On entering the auditorium, one will find the curtains open, and various theatrical props are scattered throughout the stage, as if the rehearsal for a play is going on. Then as all the characters for the e play assemble on stage, the rehearsal for the play resumes. As the director of the play remains absent, the assistant director has taken the charge to lead the rehearsals. Once the set, props, light, music of the play is arranged, the new rehearsal begins. As the rehearsal paces up, six completely unknown strangers intervenes into the process. The six characters are one man, his former wife, the former wife’s two daughters and a son. They claim that they are incomplete characters and are in search of a director who can etch out a complete theatre out of their lives. The assistant director firstly considers them as to be mad persons, but while listening to their baseless and self-contradictory narratives about their life, he becomes interested to listen to their stories of their real lives. Through the narration of real life events, they try to get their complete identities. They first try to make other characters then rehearsing to enact their stories, but they fail, so they themselves enact their own stories. They debate among themselves regarding the truthfulness of those events which they have faced in their real life. These events which they enact from their real life bring them to a destiny during this course of action on stage. The assistant director is baffled with the thought, that what he witnessed whether was his imagination or reality. He laments on wasting a precious two hours of time.

The style of open curtains before the play is not new. But, many audiences are confused whether they have been late for the play. This confusion and distraction is a necessary emotion deserved from the audiences for this play and the director has been successful in his intentions. The title as named by Debesh Chattopadhyay sounds good, reminds of a poetry collection by the famous Bengali poet Shakti Chattopadhyay, but the title named by Rudraprasad Sengupta is more meaningful to the context of the play.

The play is dependent on the dialogues, so the acting capacity is a very important parameter for the success of the play. Three characters play a very important part in this play, the father, his step daughter and the role of the assistant director. Monalisa Chatterjee in the role of the step daughter has taken the main responsibility of the narrative progress of the play in terms of the acting capacity. She has been so immersed into the role that she didn’t need some extra effort to enact this role. Ashim Roychowdhury in the role of the Father and Abhra Mukhopadhyay in the role of the assistant director have also complemented her. The director has somehow given a freedom for all the actors to choose an acting style according to their comfort and preference. This freedom has eased Monalisa more than the other characters though all the actors reflect their experiences in extensive acting training through which they have had grilled themselves.

The light has been designed by Sudip Sanyal and the music has been designed by Anindya Nandi. The designs for both the light and the sound do not remain constricted to any performance design but changes as the changing mood set of the play. Thus execution or operation of both becomes more important than the design. The set design is formed out of the mise-en-scène scattered around the stage. The actors pick up props spontaneously according to their need and continuously redesigns the stagecraft. Though a rehearsed structure is well identified behind the spontaneous actions of the actors with the stage props. Make up by Md. Ali makes the characters more realistic.

Salesman er Songsar – ‘Death of a salesman’ once again brilliantly acted on Bengali stage

The subject of the play is not confined to a particular time or context. Hence the play becomes relevant for all times. A play fifty eight years old never appears to be irrelevant for the present day audiences. It appears that the play is written to symbolise the present time.

This play is added to the list of many good plays that Debesh Chattopadhyay has presented for the last twenty five years. Though the Bengal stages and audiences are not lucky enough to enjoy the creation of a theatre art out of new original ideas.

Pradip Datta
A post-graduation diploma holder of the Department of Media Studies, University of Calcutta, he has been a theatre activist in Bengal for the last twenty five years. He is a freelance journalist by profession. Besides theatre, his passion includes recitation, audio plays and many more.

Translation: Srijayee Bhattacharjee

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