Sunday, January 16, 2011

Little Big Tragedies - NSD Repertory - Ovlyakuli Khodjakuli

Aleksandr Pushkin - the 19th century author considered by many as Russia's greatest poet and the founder of modern Russian lierature. In the fall of 1830, he stayed on his farm in Boldino while recivering from Cholera. However, he was extremely prolific during this period and it is considered his most creative period.

The "Little Tragedies" were written in 2 weeks during this period. 4 thematically related one-act plays aimed at creating tragedy within the framework of an ideological artistic unity. Each of the main characters faces intense Inner conflict which then determines the plot and structure of the play. All four dramatic scenes are written in verse and can be considered compressed Chamber Dramas.

In Mozart and Salieri, Salieri is a hardworking, but not very creative student whose jealousy of Mozart's genius, drives him to murder Mozart. Don Juan in The Stone Guest lusts for Dona Anna, so he kills her husband and then tries to woo her. In The Feast During the Plague, a plague survivor struggles with the conflict between the loss of lives (which include his wife and mother) and to live his own life to the fullest. The Miserly Knight is a tale of conflict between a knight and his son with different but equally misguided ideas of honor.

Pushkin focuses on human passions and the interplay between free will and fate: though each protagonist could avoid self-ruin, he freely chooses it.

Ovlyakuli Khodjakuli, chose to dramatise the first 3 stories in his production of Little Big Tragedies with his cast of 10, chosen from NSD Repertory.

The set was extremely simple and was just a background, except in The Stone Guest, where it forms an intrinsic part of the story line and is almost a character itself.

Flowing robes in yellow, red and blue for costumes served as a visual cue to mark the change in stories.

The dialogues were very difficult for me to follow with my colloquial knowledge of Hindi. BB who understands Sanskrit and Urdu could follow about 60% of the dialogues. But the beauty of the play is that it did not require an understanding of the dialogue to be engrossed and moved by the performances.

Beautiful movement, wonderful acting and expressions, use of fabric, the music, the sound effects with simple implements on stage, all combined beautifully together. The script is long and can get heavy because of the poetry and subject. But This was a PERFORMANCE! Brilliant!

More Pictures and details on

The Butcher of Quietly - Actor Factor - Sunit Sinha

The invitation for the Butcher of Quietly introduced the play as A woman’s skull buried deep down in the dark pages of history. A secret investigation leads us to the first ever murder committed in cold blood in a jungle kingdom called Quietly. The play reflects on our current politics of indifference and power based on total ignorance of the social good. The Butcher of Quietly is at times poetic, at times rip-roaring funny, mostly theatrical, and quietly dark.

Sounded promising and since this was at 7pm at IHC and promised to be 75 mins long, I bought the tickets as I felt we had enough time to reach NSD to catch the 9:30pm show of Little Big Tragedies.

Most theater plays start on time or a maximum of a 5-10 minute delay in extenuating circumstances. We reached the Stein auditorium by 6:45pm. But we were all requested to continue to stand outside (guard politely declined permission for anyone to enter the auditorium premises) until "The Womb Ensemble" finished playing.

"The Womb Ensemble" is a noble initiative to bring pure sounds from around the planet on one stage and the musicians Shashwat Srivastava, Arnab Das and Vaishali Chakravarthy were good. But they kept playing until 7:10pm and the audience was forced to stand outside and shiver in the cold waiting for them to finish, so we could finally enter the Stein auditorium.

The play finally started at 7:25pm and by 7:35pm sections of the audience had already started walking out.

We stayed on hoping things would improve, but the script was weak, what were intended as jokes (urine and crap related with the jester sniffing butts and crotches) were crass and fell absolutely flat, the music was piercing and painful during what were supposed to be crescendos. Varoon Anand as Soola was the only decent performer, but even he couldn't do much with the dialogue that he was given.

Each dimming of lights, saw more people rushing to the exits and by the time 30 minutes had passed, half the audience had walked out and unfortunately we felt compelled to do the same. This is the first time, we have ever walked out halfway through a theater production.

This is a play that should never have been made.

First The Leela Tapes which was average and now this. I don't think we will be watching their productions anymore.

Friday, January 14, 2011

What Hapenned? The 80*81 Findings - Project by George Diez & Christopher Roth

George Diez & Christopher Roth called their production a "project" in the promos. This should have been an indication to the audience that this wasn't going to be a "regular" theatre production. But then audiences don't read the fine print very well, do they?

It was in the year 2010 that two researchers came up with the idea that the years 1980 and 1981 represented a major shift in world history, the Great Transition. The play is the representation of the findings of this research that Diez and Roth called 80*81.

This was the premise of what was presented on stage and what was presented on stage was a mind trip. A lot of the audience who couldn't figure out what was going on started walking out. There was one man in the audience who had a loud argument (louder than the performers voices) with an usher saying "Yeh kya bakwaas chal raha hain?"
The project used a variety of methods to present itself - documentary style footage from Paris, North Dakota, Johannesburg and Rishikesh, some acting on stage, Roth & Diez reading out conference style papers, a live crooner, the action on stage being recorded live and projected onto a screen behind. It was an assualt on all ones senses and on ones intelligence and beliefs (what we currently believe are true facts).

The researchers based on some sources that had survived since 80*81, seemed to have got a lot of their facts and data mixed up and reached the "wrong?" conclusions
The directors say that: This unlikely time travel (2081 to 1980*81) is in part about post-modernism and the history of post-modernism in reverse, to get a retro-futuristic narrative out of the plethora and confusion of histories.

Chritopher Roth is no stranger to controvery. His film Baaderwas first trashed when presented at the Berlinale Film Festival, but later highly appreciated even winning the Alfred-Bauer-Preis

It seems that the directors were aiming for something similar with 80*81. Present something so confusing, confounding and gob smacking that after several viewings might showcase itself as postmodern theatre. I hope they manage to achieve this objective, so that they can then publish the answers that the audience still seated until the end was left with - "What the hell, were they trying to convey?"

While everyone drew their own conclusions, nobody seemed convinced that they had reached the right conclusions and we would love for the directors to tell us simpler minds what they hoped to convey and portray.

More Pictures and details on

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Barber of Seville - Eric Vigner (Albanian)

Even in an opera as well known as The Barber of Seville, it is great to have subtitles flashing across the top of the stage when the production is in Albanian.

While Eric Vigner and his CDDB - Theatre of Lorient, National Drama Centre, France and National Theater of Tirana, Albania did a good job, I was expecting an opera performance, so this was a bit of a let down. This perofrmance was more of a play with a few odd couplets being and there.

The sets were beautiful and I loved the multi functionality of what seemed like a simple white wall. The performers were also good, but I was expecting more.

The story of The Barber of Seville revolves around Count Almaviva in love with Rosine who is being hid away in a tower by her avaricious guardian Doctor Bartholo. The Count enlists the help of an acquaintance of his Figaro - who has access to the house by virtue of being a barber.

More Pictures and details on


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Charandas Chor - Anup Hazarika (Assamese)

The Inaugural Performace at the 13th Theatre Bharat Rang Mahotsav festival of NSD was Anup Hazarika's (himself an NSD alumnus) Assamese version of Habib Tanvir's Charandas Chor.

While Habib Tanvir used local Chattisgarhi actors in his play, Anup Hazarika brought a new perspective infused with Assamese music and dance.

Watching the performance was like being invited to sit around a warm fire in the village common grounds to watch a local theater troupe perform a play with music, dance, slapstick comic relief and a moral to the story.

Charandas Chor is originally a Rajasthani folktale about a thief who promises his guru 4 things - never to eat off golden plates, never to ride at the head of a procession on an elephant, never to marry a queen and never to accept kingship. Amused by his self declared promises, his guru asks him to make one more promise - never to lie (since he refuses to give up stealing which he says is his vocation) and the story goes on from here.

The original script does not include the songs, so Director Hazarika uses nagara naam, naokhelor geet - boat racing songs, biya naam - marriage songs and other Assamese folk forms.

Jitumoi Gohain as Charandas and Chandan Boruah as the Hawaldar were excellent performers. The live music performances on stage kept the beat throughout and set the scenes.

Do catch this play if you get the chance.

Visit for more pictures.

13th Theatre Bharat Rang Mahotsav - NSD - Inaugural

The 13th Theatre Bharat Rang Mahotsav festival of  NSD opened on the 8th of January and will continue until the 22nd of this month.

Around 6 plays will be held daily in the evenings across Kamani, LTG, SRC and 5 spaces within the NSD campus.

Tickets are selling out really fast. They are being opened in 3 phases. By the time I reached on the 2nd day of the first slot, most of the plays were already ":house full"

There are plenty of international performers this year and I'm looking forward to catch some of them.

The inaugural ceremony heard the principal Dr. Anuradha Kapur, Chairperson Mrs. Amal Allana, Chief Guest Dr Leela Samson and Jawahar Sircar - Secretary - Ministry of Culture speak a few words.

Mr Sircar was entertaining and I wish we could have heard more of his original ideas rather than the address written by Mr Manmohan Singh (PM and Minister for Culture) for the occassion.

He did announce a grant for theatre groups to create their own spaces to put up performances. The government will give them 50 lakhs as assistance for construction, but management would rest with the theatre groups themselves. A noble idea if it can be put into practice.

Shopping at South Ex 1

Shopping at South Ex was extremely fashionable before the big malls came to Delhi. All the big brands available in India were retailed here.

With the opening of the malls in Gurgaon and now all over Delhi, the glamour of this market faded a little, but it still is home to big brands.

BG's is a big draw for their clothes and fashion jewelry.

If you are looking for real gold and precious stones, you can choose from Tanishq, Mehrasons and others. The window displays are so beautiful that any woman would be tempted to slow down even if its just to appreciate the designs before passing by.

Among the international chains, you will find Nike, Benetton, Reebok, Levis and Tommy Hilfiger Kids. The Tommy Hilfiger store has some really cute options for kids from 2-16 years old. There were a couple of sleeveless sweaters for little boys that were quite adorable. They have a few more colours in store other than the standard blue, white and red.

For silk saris, there is no better option in Delhi than Nalli Silks a brand that most South Indian women will swear by. I personally love Nallis, but I've found that I have good days and bad days here. Sometimes I find it difficult to choose just 1 or 2 saris and sometimes I don't find anything at all no matter how hard I search.

All the major bookshops including Om Books and  Teksons have a presence here.

Eating options include Bengali Sweet House (Vegetarian), McDonalds, acouple of coffee shops and a rather large bhelpuri and juicewallah stand.  For more substantial meals you may want to move further down to the Haldirams and Pind Balluchi or cross over to South Ex2 which has more choice in eateries.

The market is closed on Mondays.

Parking in this market is quite problematic, especially noon onwards. The parking attendants do their best to help, but the volume of traffic is too high for it to be smooth sailing.

The prices (of non branded items) may seem higher than other markets in Delhi, but the products are of high quality. If you want to enjoy the open air while shopping, it is a good idea to head here instead of a mall.
Related Posts with Thumbnails