Nothing 2 Say – A Lively Commendable Experimental Collective Theatre

Posted by Kaahon Desk On September 27, 2019

On last 10th September at Tapan Theatre, Theatre Shine’s play ‘Nothing 2 Say’ was staged. Before entering the hall, a leaflet was handed over by one of them group members. Since there was still some time to start the play, the leaflet was read. It claimed that the play is a postmodern performance and from the group it was also mentioned elsewhere that it is a non-verbal production. However, there is no definitive yardstick to evaluate how close it does get to justify its claims of being ‘postmodern’ or ‘non-verbal’. In this context, Dr. Marry Klages (Department of English, University of Colorado) to define Postmodernism has stated, “Postmodern is a complicated term, or set of ideas. It’s hard to define, because it’s a concept that appears in a wide variety of disciplines or areas of study, including arts.” etc.

Previous Kaahon Theatre Review:

Anyway, let us talk about the play.

The way a bunch of youngsters (probably 13 people) with the one-and-a-half-hour presentation turned the entire space into such a lively one is truly laudable. It occurred while watching the play that this collective energy itself is the driving power behind the collective presence of theatre.  All the performers have credibly managed to put up their best without a touch of pretence. They have done everything within their capacity to narrate the story with body gestures. Within the journey starting from birth to years of education with an honorary degree ending in a disappointing pursuit for job, friendship and love find their own place. Rest of the life then moves with calculation. Gradually one’s life and actions no longer stay within his individual space. Politics, Public and State policies start influencing his life. Meanwhile to shatter friendship, belief, love and tolerance there appears a conscience-like character like from folk-theatre or a metaphor for aggression. By creating an artificial scarcity between demand and supply he instigates friends, brothers, lovers and states to fight with each other. Mankind snubs its primeval practice of staying together. This play regards individual crisis and state crisis as one. This attempt is commendable. But this puts forth some questions. There is a strange tendency present among a few writers and directors in theatre, especially in Bengali theatre, of addressing every possible issue around the world in one single play! It seems their every single work is their last. This play reminds us of the same. Engels, in this context, states that in human civilization, the individual, family and state are related to each other and are scientifically connected (source: the origin of the family, private property and the state, -Friedrich Engels). But a play is not an audience-serving tool of entertainment only. Sight demands its own aesthetic and integrated artistic presentation. This play tends to overlook that aspect. A wide array of issues ranging from those concerning the individual, society, type of Education, love, disappointment to partition and exploitation etc. everything is thrust upon this one single play. And behind all of these works the leftist cry against ‘imperialist aggression’. This banal habit of accusing Imperialism for anything and everything has reduced itself today to an excuse solely. They seem to overlook the fact that placarding against Imperialist subterfuge even after 72 years of Independence will not help them with anything but act as an advertisement of their own incompetence. Anyway, words fall short for discussions like these. Let us get back to the play.

Trying to address all the issues in a single has naturally lengthened it. A good editor makes a good director. Certain scenes in this play were exhaustively stretched. It was absolutely possible to give them a more integrated form through editing. A piece of work becomes an Art only when it takes an integrated shape following the aesthetics and measurement. He is the true director who manages to bind the collective efforts in a chaotic scene with the thread of inner discipline and present it onstage so that it becomes chaotic and cohesive at the same time. One of the chief conditions of a sight-dependent art is to create a visual narration of the text. Director of this play fails to bring that on stage. Therefore, the gibberish style he implemented in this non-verbal production, without the necessary edits, tends to be unnecessarily extensive and tiresome. Had the energy level of these fresh youngsters more accurately regulated and edited, this play, from the perspective of form, could have achieved a special space in Bengali theatre today.

Janch Partal– Unfulfilled expectation of something beyond JUST healthy comedyThere is a popular proverb in Bengali that states, how I cut my cloth depends on my wish, but as an audience, I felt:

– Failing to start at the scheduled time is an example of unprofessionalism.

– The play instead of a stage, can be performed anywhere else, even on road, since light projection has no impact on the play.

– Coming down from the stage occasionally to break the space failed to create any significance. It needed more effort to explore the Horizontal, Vertical or Upper, Lower space to create an impression of an Experimental play. Otherwise it would remain just a word or slogan in the theatrical vocabulary. This play has ample potential to explore that.

– Presence of a real cigarette and a cake in the midst of suggestive props is very out of place.

– Use of Hindi songs in sound application and its visual presentation on stage not only failed to add any special dimension to the play but also appeared to be another postmodern gimmick.

– Light projection is problematic, having no relevance to the production.

– The uniformity in attires could be left as it was since dress is not that important to the progression of this play.

– The idea of using the style of pantomime and gibberish is laudable. But it lacked the same proper measurement and editing.

– Since it is a non-verbal, choreograph is the strength of this play. This play could have been an example of a perfect visual play if the whole team could have been taken through a more refined grooming and care.

In spite of all of these, the love, dedication, diligence that these fresh youngsters possess for theatre and their unbridled excitement to sweat blood and tears for the play no doubt deserves an ovation. Ramaprasad therefore says that such untended human soil could have reaped gold if cultivated. Theatre Shine group abounds in such fertile talents which with careful cultivation is bound to ‘shine’ in future.


Soven Ganguly
A theatre practitioner for more than 25 years, a playwright, a critic and also an oriental Indian folk dancer, he is a guest faculty member in acting at SRFTI, Kolkata. He has participated in various major theatre festivals in India and abroad. He mentors the budding performers for films and theatres.

Translation – Rishav Dutta

Read this review in Bengali.

বাংলাতে পড়তে ক্লিক করুন।


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