Sunday, November 25, 2012

MICA (Sankalp) presents Sakharam Binder

For a change, we heard about a theatre performance before it actually happenned, so we headed off to Natarani for Vijay Tendulkar's "Sakharam Binder" as performed by Sankalp - the Theatre group of MICA.

Vijay Tendulkar wrote this Marathi play in post colonial India and while it was first performed in 1972, it was also banned in India in 1974 as it was considered too violent and too vulgar.

Sakharam considers himself an enlightened man who rescues women abandoned by their husbands. He believes that by telling them how things stand, he is being fair with them, and he says that they can leave whenever they wish to. But he actually uses them as free domestic help and sex slaves and the women have noone else to turn to. He gives them a roof over their head, 2 saris to start with and one more each year, food to eat and beatings when they don't fall in line.

The first act is practically a monologue by Sakharam as it depicts the relationship between Sakharam and Laxmi his 7th "bird" (panchi). Laxmi is a God fearing woman who has been thrown out by her husband for failing to conceive, and she is terrified of Sakharam and his beatings. So she finally leaves him to go live with her nephew at the end of the act.

In the second act, Sakharam brings home Champa, a woman who has left her "fauji" husband as he drinks too much and has lost his job. Champa initially seems like a much tougher woman, but eventually the viewer sees that she too has her own insecurities and ends up in a similar position as Laxmi before her. She drinks herself into numbness when forced to have sex with Sakharam.

In the third act, Laxmi comes back, as her nephew has thrown her out too and this act explores the relationship dynamics between all 3 of them with Champa's husband reappearing on the scene and Champa having an affair with Sakharam's friend Dawood.

Today's play was directed by Kshitij Rajoria & Surbhi Tiwari. Starring Dennis Daniel as Skharam Binder, Sanchita Dasgupta as Laxmi, Vijayalaxmi Shinde as Champa, Shitiz Dogra as Dawood and Shrey Chakavorty as Champa's husband.

The play was performed reasonably well for a college group, but they just couldn't portray the sexual angle very clearly. In fact it wasn't even clear if Sakharam was having a sexual relationship with Laxmi or not until part 3 when she explicitly mentions it.

Other than this performances were above average, but we have watched Sakharam Binder being performed at Prithvi a couple of years ago and it was hard for us not to compare the 2 and hence this obviously came across as a much weaker performance in comparison.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Inua Ellams - The 14th Tale

Inua Ellams is a word and graphic artist based in London. He was born in Nigeria in 1984 and moved to London as a teenager.

The 14th Tale is his condensed autobiography of sorts. He merges poetry and theatre to tell the tale of growing up in Nigeria, London and then Dublin.

Inua was awarded a Fringe First Award at Edinburgh Festival for The 14th Tale.

The play is a 55 minute monologue where Innua tells us tales of the mischief maker that he was, while growing up in 3 very different cities. While the stories are funny on the surface, there is a poignancy to the tales that he tells.

The narrative has a poetic rhythm to it. But since its a series of episodes that he narrates, it doesn't flow like a story but feels more like a chat with a friend over a cup of coffee.

The only props used were a simple cloth backdrop, a folding chair and a torch. So its relatively easy for him to travel and stage this performance in various cities. The British Council sponsored his performances in Gujarat and the play is supposed to move to Surat from Ahmedabad.