When theatre highlights suffering

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The company consists of actors from Ujjain, Mumbai, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and of course Manipur.

The Journey of Sorrow is about farmers. The style of presentation of the play is ‘psycho-physical’, which uses the entire body as a medium to bring out the psychological state of mind of the characters.

Two NSD graduates come together to promote theatre India wide. Maisnam Joy Meetei and Sajida are the two people who presented two plays with their Treasure Art Association at the LTG — The Journey of Sorrow and Banjara. These two plays are intended for exhibition over the next year. At present, the group performs in Hindi and English but many more languages will be added as and when and how the current group of actors grows and matures to the age of direction. The company consists of actors from Ujjain, Mumbai, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and of course Manipur.

The Journey of Sorrow is about the farmers in India. It’s like a vicious circle of loans, debts, dry crops, no rain, no food, no water and no means of livelihood for the entire family, which drives men and women to the black desperation and panic and finally they cross over the line between life and death. The style of presentation of the play is “psycho-physical”, which uses the entire body as a medium to bring out the psychological states of the mind of the characters in front of the audience.

The actors use the physical to reach the psychological state of mind of the farmers.

So you have a couple of farmers living in a hut and they are woken up at night by a spirit which foretells the coming of a major storm followed by drought. This shakes the couple up with fear and anxiety. Then we move on to a collage of religious motifs in action. We see men committing suicides in various ways, finally we have a song sung by the entire cast and this song speaks of hope and rain in coming months.

This is taken from a folktale and has a minimal text. The story unfolds in real movements designed to reach the audience in the simplest manner. Joy Maisnam as the director and actor in the play has a tough job to do. Where Manipuris have a natural affinity to music and movement of their bodies, the others are not so efficient, so the cast suffers and with time I hope this problem is also solved.

However, the production was beyond picking out these small problems which any company would face. The music was good and the costume very neat.

Banjara is a play written by Satyaraj with acting inputs by Maisnam Joy Meetei and the concept, design and direction by Sajida, the latter two are husband and wife. Banjara is a play about women who belong to different nomadic communities or “Banjare”.

Always on the move, they are never bound to any geographical terrain or area, how does this paradox pan out in the day-to-day existence for them in their minds? How do they place themselves against those who have documents or a permanent address?

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The six women on stage are the main characters in the play. Nidhi Mishra as Mayna, Sneha Sarita/Soni as Rasili, Debarati as Lajo, Seema Soni as Bijili, Madhavi Sharma as Phuljhadi/Mary and Priyanka Raghunath Ingle as Phulwa are the six women on stage.

The men are Bijli’s husband Jogi who comes to visit her with a proposal of her dancing at some elite function. She is very angry with him because he had promised to take her out of this profession. The other man is Maisnam Joy Meetei who plays the owner of this area occupied by the Banjara’s.

Kalbelia music is sung by Niyati Rathod and the dance is taught to them by Basanti Prajapati and they make use of the arts in the opening sequence where they establish their identities. Mayna is the quite one who only reacts to the enactment of the conversation Bijli and Rasili have with a civilian.

Then there is Rasili who is the leader of the troupe, she dances very well and sings also. Bijli is a good second in her performance style. All of them go through the day with some tragedy or the other occurring to one of them, this is the occasion for one of the older “Banjarans” to mollycoddle the younger “Banjaran”. This is a chance for them to come close to each other and declare a war against those who are not with them. The play gives no answers to these questions raised and nor does it give any indication about how these women are going to find their identity, which is a big search by human kind.



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