A reinterpretation of a Badal Sircar play aims to touch contemporary audiences
WRITTEN by anti-establishment Bengali playwright Badal Sircar, Stale News juxtaposes 19th century and present day resistance movements, drawing parallels between the plight of the common man in both eras. Director Ajith Hande and his cast of six thespians have re-worked aspects of the script for the Jagriti winter season, infusing it with a contemporary relevance while maintaining the spirit of the Bengali original.
The backbone of the play is the story of the Santhals, a tribal community who under 19th century British rule were robbed of their land and livelihoods. Rising up against both colonial rule and their overlords, their 1855 rebellion preceded the first war of Indian independence. “The story that runs alongside this is contemporary, and shows that oppression in the modern age is not so different,” shares director Ajith Hande. “It’s a fascinating play, but hasn’t been staged much, perhaps because the modern day elements were so specific to 1970s Calcutta. As a cast, we’ve collaboratively re-devised those aspects, to make it relevant to 2014,” he elaborates.
Promising an interpretation packed with movement and action, Hande shares that part of the joy of a Sircar play is in its flexibility and openness for interpretation by a director.
Freedom of movement
Staying true to the playwright’s love of street theatre, the performance incorporates elements of this less formal style, working with an ensemble cast, who each take up a number of roles. With work on the production going on since June, the cast has invested a great deal in the production, and hope to take it on tour across the country at the close of this maiden run.
Until November 9. At Jagriti, Whitefield. Tickets (`300) on bookmyshow.com
— Maegan Dobson Sippy