Austrian playwright and novelist Peter Handke has produced an extensive body of work which has often been influenced and informed by tumultuous events of modern times. His critically acclaimed play Storm Still, published on September 20, 2010, is a rendition of the National Socialist era, when one Slovenian family in Carinthia collaborates with the Germans, while another opposes them.
Often described as a dream, or an incessant rant, his work inspired a German performance with the English translation by Martin Chalmers as subtitles during the award ceremony at the International Ibsen Award in 2014. The five-hour long play has now been adapted into a one-and-a-hour performance by musician Varun Kishore and actor Tanaji Dasgupta.
Relying heavily on nostalgia and memory, Handke’s play set in an unspecified time and space and without any stage directions almost resembles a novel. It is written in the form of a monologue where the past and the present collide and fuse in the play, as the narrator, in a dream-like state interacts with his ancestors —those he knew and also with those he had never seen.
The duo, who have been performing the play since 2015, belong to two distinct creative spaces and are bringing their own (varied) interpretations to the table. “Both of us bring our own readings of the play. There are two different narratives but they operate simultaneously on stage,” Kishore says, adding that, unlike other plays, the music here is not relegated to merely a sound in the background. Instead, it is used as a narrative device where the actor responds to it, and vice-versa.
The play which has been staged in various cities including Kolkata, Chennai and Dhaka, among others will be performed at the Stein Auditorium, Indian Habitat Centre on July 14. The performance is a part of the ILF Samanvay Translations Series 2017, a bi-monthly initiative that explores various concerns related to the field of translation going beyond verbal translations. Seagull Books is partnering with ILF Samanvay on this initiative.
Note: Kishore is a guitar player, composer and producer from Calcutta, India. He graduated from the London College of Music at the University of West London in 2012, with a Bachelors degree in Popular Music Performance, and it has been five years since he has been pursuing music professionally.
Tanaji Dasgupta is an Indian producer and actor based in Mumbai and Kolkata. Both of them had previously collaborated for A History of Clouds, a concert of original music based on 28 poems from German poet Hans Magnus Enzensberger’s ‘A History of Clouds’.