Theatre of thoughts

Labeling theatre a movement also imposes upon it the powers of reaching out to masses,awakening people and conveying a social message.

Written by Pranav Kulkarni | Published:February 10, 2009 12:34 am

Me Majhyashi,a collage of monologues of Divakar,is a play by Atul Pethe conceptualised to create space for theatre in the unusual areas of the state

Labeling theatre a movement also imposes upon it the powers of reaching out to masses,awakening people and conveying a social message. Abiding by the definition of a theatre movement,city-based director Atul Pethe,has conceptualised a play- Me Majhyashi,which was staged at Bharat Natya Mandir on February 8. A collage of monologues by playwright Divakar,Me Majhyashi means a dialogue with myself. The motive was to create spaces for theatre in various parts of the state,other than the usual destinations such as Mumbai,Pune,Kolhapur and so on.

Explaining the thought process that has gone behind the making of the play,Pethe says,”In order to create spaces for theatre in rural Maharashtra,I had organised a theatre camp at Vasantrao Acharekar Sanskritik Pratishthan,Kankavli,350 kms from Pune. During this three-month camp,I realised that there is immense potential in youngsters in these areas. From a group of 45 that was training under me,I selected a bunch of 20 students and started working on the project- Me Majhyashi.”

What has emerged is an improvisation and amalgamation of the Natyachhatas meaning monologues by writer- Divakar,presented in a Dashavtar style. Pethe explains,”I have been a fan of Divakar’s ‘Agarkar-school-of-thought’ writing style. Not only are the issues addressed by him existential in nature but are also woman centric and have socio-cultural relevance even today. The monologues written by him 100 years ago have inspired connoisseurs in the field like Tendulkar and Alekar. In today’s times when we’ve lost dialogues with each other,I find monologues extremely relevant and self awakening.”

With over 80 percent of the actors in the play coming from non-theatrical background,the play was first staged on January 18,Divakar’s 118th birth anniversary at Kankavli after which it traveled across Maharashtra in various villages. “To our surprise,the response was beyond overwhelming. At every place that we staged the play,over 300-350 villagers attended the show and took active part on discussions on Marathi theatre that followed the performance. At Nipani,we received a standing ovation from over 450 people. The one in Pune was the 10th performance,” adds Pethe.

Categorising the play as experimental theatre also clearly means that the play is an abstract presentation of the thought process of the scriptwriter. When asked that how logical is it to target the village audience with the usually complex thought process of an experimental drama? Pethe says,”Well,we did not face any of such problems. People came up with amazing interpretations of the play. This venture made us understand that people are intelligent. There are a few hurdles that keep them away from approaching theatre. All we need to do is remove the hurdles and present the drama in its purest form in front of them.”

A blend of Marathi and Malvani,the play will now be staged 50 times for over two years across the state. Along with the plays are going to be organised- workshops and seminars on theatre. “This is not money oriented theatre,it is thought oriented. And unlike money,thought can be distributed to them all,isn’t it?” concludes Pethe.

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