Thursday, Dec 01, 2022

Found in Translation

Ringan,a Marathi translation of German playwright Bertolt Brecht’s play brings back the original flavour.

Ringan,a Marathi translation of German playwright Bertolt Brecht’s play brings back the original flavour.

Whenever theatre director Praveen Bhole heard people talking about the play A Caucasian Chalk Circle,he hardly heard any discussion about modernist playwright Bertolt Brecht,its creator. Instead,all talk revolved around director Vijaya Mehta’s Marathi adaptation of it. So,with his latest production,Ringan,Bhole is set on bringing the original Brechtian flavour back on stage.

“In 1972,C T Khanolkar had done a remarkable job of adapting the play into a Marathi setting,but it was not an exact translation,” says Bhole. With his version,Bhole will transport the audience to Georgia and Azerbaijan – the play’s original setting.

As the curtains part,the lights focus on a majestic door on stage. Soon a peasant enters carrying baggage and pleads to be let him in. After many futile attempts,he sits down and reciting a verse by Franz Kafka,pulls out a book to read. The book is titled A Caucasian Chalk Circle. This starts the Brechtian theory of a play within a play and the audience is taken on a theatrical journey.

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Bhole also uses puppets and masks to keep the audience distanced from the story. “Brecht included these methods in his play to make the audience conscious that they were watching a scripted drama and not a slice of life on stage,” says Bhole,who is also an assistant professor of theatre at Lalit Kala Kendra.

The German playwright has left an obvious impression on Bhole. “Brecht was such a great theorist of theatre. But in Marathi theatre,there have only been sporadic incidences where directors have tried to explore his style and theory,” says Bhole. He adds that Mehta’s adaptation of A Caucasian Chalk Circle and another play based on Three Pence Opera were produced over 30 years ago. “This is why I planned to revisit Brecht,” he says.

But,Bhole has made a few changes of his own in Ringan,like juxtaposing scenes with verses from Kafka that explore facets of the the idea of justice. He has also cut the duration to two hours. “The original duration of the play is three hours. Nowadays the audience doesn’t have much time or patience,” he says.


The cast and crew of the play feature students from Lalit Kala Kendra. “A total of 45 students from senior years to freshers have enthusiastically participated. Music students form a live orchestra on stage since music is another vital part of Brechtian theory,” says Bhole.

Ringan will be staged at Angan Manch,near Lalit Kala Kendra,on March 29,30 and 31,from 6.30 pm onwards

First published on: 28-03-2013 at 12:12:46 am
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