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On a Tour of the Word

There are so many words that stay with us and so many more that disappear into wilderness,” says Parnab Mukherjee.

Written by Parul | Published: May 28, 2012 10:21:59 pm

There are so many words that stay with us and so many more that disappear into wilderness,” says Parnab Mukherjee. One of the leading alternative theatre directors of the country,Mukherjee plays with words in his forthcoming venture,Those who shall Trespass. This theatre project,he adds,can be called a “performing dictionary” and Mukherjee plans the first show on September 11.

In his repertoire are the words ‘smorgasbord’ and ‘dude’,and he enacts the former as a protagonist who was born as a Scandinavian open-style sandwich,and the latter who grew up in Africa. Mukherjee’s solo show,however,isn’t just about enacting the antecedents of words. The artistic director of Best of Kolkata Campus,an independent performance collective and performance foundry that has worked on various human rights issues,Mukherjee confesses to an affinity with areas of conflict. This peculiarity has marked even this current show,which involves 60 words from the Oxford English Dictionary. “The performance will try to strip the word of its colonial,imperial and post-colonial legacy,reclaiming the musicality of the word but not at the expense of human rights,socio-economic and dissent dimensions of the word,” he explains.

He chooses the word “hungry” for a demonstration. “One person’s hunger means being deprived of a meal,another person’s hunger could mean having no means to afford one,” he explains,“or,being armed could be philosophical or could indicate a platoon that inflicts excesses.”

Mukherjee brings the words and their obvious and subtle connotations alive with his passionate gestures. The Dictionary Project is special,and has been playing in Mukherjee’s mind for over 10 years,“for words are free”. The theatre actor-director divides his time between North-east,Kolkata and Darjeeling and has already completed work on five words. His aim is to not repeat a performance,even when he performs continuously for four nights.

Apart from the philosophy,Those who shall Trespass has an absorbing physiology. An audience will give a list of words. Each performance of 50 minutes will be an exploration of five words. “The idea is not to convey the meaning of the word or re-create its ambience and soundscape. The idea is to look at the secret life of the word,see how it behaves in a context and inside the contextual reality,how it can leap,walk,jump,crawl or even ebb away,” he says.

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