Between the Lines

Ten years ago,Akshara Theatre witnessed a jugalbandi that Rabindranath Tagore would have been proud of.

Written by Dipanita Nath | Published: March 30, 2012 2:35 am

Ten years ago,Akshara Theatre witnessed a jugalbandi that Rabindranath Tagore would have been proud of. Japanese actor Yoko Hayashi and Delhi-based theatre persona Gopal Sharman presented poems from Tagore’s Nobel Prize-winning work,Gitanjali,in Japanese and English respectively,as a Western string quartet and Indian musicians played the background scores. This week,Akshara attempts to revisit the magic,although only in the English version.

“Akshara means word,and it is my belief that to do justice to an author’s work,you have to respect his words,” says Jalabala Vaidya of Akshara. And,in this production,nothing interrupts Tagore’s words except bursts of music and twirling dance movements. The evening will see a a dramatic recitation of 25 poems from Gitanjali,and audiences across all age groups will find resonance in the lines about childhood,the waves of doubt that accompany experience,and the approaching sense of mortality.

Six presenters on stage,sitting between giant pictures of Tagore’s home in Jorasanko in north Kolkata,are complemented by a musician trio that performs folk and classical rhythms. As the oft-quoted lines On the seashore of endless worlds the children meet with shouts and dances are read,two child actors fill the stage with their bonhomie,chasing each other,playing with sea shells and sailing paper boats in imaginary waters. Vaidya recites most of the poems about the later years,among them On the day when death will knock at thy door/ what will you offer him?

“Age teaches one the import of the facing the truth of facing mortality,” she explains.

Folk tunes,ragas Dharavi and Ashavari,and Vande Mataram provide the musical accompaniments. Vande Mataram? “It was a work that Tagore appreciated a great deal,” explains Vaidya,as the actors take their place between shimmering string curtains that were a fashion in early 20th century Bengal.

The performance will be held at Akshara Theatre on March 30 and 31. Contact: 23361075

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