Time for introspection
Jean Paul Sartre's ``Nekrassov" ... confusion overshadows production. Pic. by S. Thanthoni
ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS are the order of the day in Chennai and the Thespian en celebrated their tenth year of theatre with Jean Paul Sartre's ``Nekrassov." The play has been in rehearsal for a while now and select scenes were on preview for the press over a month ago.
"Nekrassov" is one of Sartre's less known plays and an interesting script with considerable potential when placed in the right context or if it is contemporised.
The plot deals with a French daily at the end of the cold war. It discusses pro communist and anti communist stands and political bias, and takes that into the newspaper office with its petty politics and the urgency to sensationalise news when there is none.
Georges de Valera, the much wanted criminal cashes in on the situation and using his natural genius buys precious time posing as Nekrassov, the Russian Interior Minister who has broken through the iron curtain to tell Soviet tales.
Thespian en boarded the play on the spacious stage of the Chinmaya Heritage Hall.
Upstage centre was a large two-panel sliding door flanked by frames with reapers running across, making designs quite imposing and attractive. But the same set was used to fix any locale with only minor changes in the configuration of chairs.
Of the 20-odd members of the cast many were first timers. In a way it added to the confusion which overshadowed the production. The cast performed in any way they pleased.
There was no modulation of speech; there was no ear for the lines that were delivered.
The actors paced up and down masked each other and shouted their lungs out. They picked up and dropped accents at will and the audience missed most of the lines.
Between scenes the cast were back on stage for set changes, darting across with chairs and books. Then the next batch would rush on to reset the stage. At least one scene was set so completely amiss that lights had to fade out for yet another scene shift.
Amidst all the comic goings on, were two good performances from Ajit Chitturi who played Georges de Valera and Archita Chandra, who impressed with her stage presence, her ability to communicate a well delineated character and her quiet control over voice.
In the final analysis it was a little disappointing that commitment, time and effort could not salvage the production.
It seems such a waste of energy and resources that a production is boarded for a mere 50-odd people in the audience.
Theatre is a nexus between the script, the actors and the audience. Maybe the time is right for Thespian en to assess their past and plan the journey ahead.
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