So far, the Winter Play Fest disappoints the audience


The ongoing 23 days long, Winter Play Festival organized by the Gaiety Dramatic Society at the Historic Gaiety Theater, the Mall, Shimla, began with the hope of seeing some if not great but still good performances by the all art lovers but the festival kick stared on a very bad note.

From November 14 to 24, plays “Phir yaad aaye papa” by Natyanukriti Theatre Group ; “Rana Zhina” by Active Monal Thratre Kullu ; “Karwat” by Yuva Mandal Bhalavag; “Manto Katghare me” by the Platform Theatre Group Shimla; “The Typist” by Natyakaar Theatre Group Shimla; “Rangnath Ke waapsi” and “Bakri” by Anukriti Rangmandal Kanpur; “Batwaare ke aag” and “Chandan Van Ka Bagh” by Vinod Rastogi Samriti Sansthaan, Allahabad; “Vanka” by Muskaan Theatre Group, Shimla and “Billiya Batiyate hai” by Ab Theatre Group have been staged.

Phir yaad turned out to be too disappointing as inspite of having a sober theme play failed to connect to audience as one of the spectators said, “I slept in the play as the beginning was too boring father kept repeating the same thing which I felt monotonous other than that there was so much fumbling by the actor playing son that I failed to connect.”

On other hand we saw Rana Zhina was based on historic incident that took place in 15 Century in Kullu showcasing the doom of sensible king by the hand of Muchiyani due to ego. While commenting on play, Shweta Sood one of the spectators said, “There were so many scenes in this play so many times there was black out on stage. I personally feel that director could have thought some other way for executing this legendary story without breaking the continuity.”

Karwat based on Manto’s story showcased the hypocrisy and the double standard that exists in the society through incident between a noble man and a prostitute. However the play had too much experiment done with the light.

“Manto Katghare me”, dealt with three different well known controversial stories of Manto; that is Kali Salwaar, Bu and Thanda Gosht; for which he had been under court trial. All the stories showed various ways shades of physical relations.

While commenting on this play Monika Verma, a tourist said, “The theme of play was a delicate one and I personally felt that the aesthetic veil required to project it was missing as it became bit uncomfortable watching it in a public place. Protagonist in Bu has stiff body language. Manto was too weak and spot light was somewhere else while he vomited out his crammed dialogues in dark and at many places without voice modulation.”

Typist came as a bit relief as while commenting, Neha Sharma, one of the spectators said, “It came as a breath of fresh air. However I personally didn’t like the uproar of laughter when Paul calls his wife bitch though situation seemed comic but undertone laid a note showing that even females do not have any self respect for themselves that they enjoy such abusive language used for other female.”

Rangnath being a long play (2 hours) failed to bag massive audience as Gaurav Kumar, one of spectators said, “It was confusing in village there showed court trial instead of panchyat. Other than that the back stage moments were distracting as the posters on back cloth were moving a lot. The lawyer was too weak in his performance.”

Bakri showcased the story of 3 crooks fooling the poor villagers gave the messages that one person can bring a revolution if he makes up his mind but the biggest flaw of the play was that goat was shown alive so make it more realistic bleating sound could have been added in background to give it a more realistic approach.

“Batwaare” was a complete package as falling in genre of Natunki it was something very different from what was being staged in festival before. While commenting on the play, Sanjay Sood, local theater artist said, “They are the masters as it is said for any performance 3 elements are must song, music and acting; and they had it all.”

As per expectation even the other play “Chandan” though in different genre did not disappoint the audiences at all as it again proved to be a delightful experience. The makeup and the body language of the actor playing the lion were extraordinary.

“Vanka”, based on Anthon Chekhov story was staged showcasing the universal plight of orphans by being mistreated by the society back then though was a great effort as the actors belonged to college rather than professional but however “I was not able to figure out the end it was all abrupt and I fail to understand what the old man signified as though Vanka was sleeping at back and it was a dream sequel; which I learned later. There could have been some use to light to make it more clear”, said Ashok Kumar, a regular spectator.

Today “Billiya” was a treat to watch as there was uproar of laughter and for the first time applause by audience was heard in the middle of the performance. Again at certain places light did miss its timing by millisecond but considering the performance staged so far it was some few good ones. Considering the stage properties the amma chulla was the eye catcher.

In almost all the plays there was so much experimenting with lights that instead of enhancing the performances they left majority of action on stage in very dim light causing bit discomfort among the spectators. Other than that the backstage moments is couple of plays were again something that gave a bad taste.

A review by Ritanjali Hastir, Freelance Journalist, Shimla

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