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Theatre Interview: Directing "Flesh" at Theatreworms and Theatre Olympics


Theatreworms Production is a Delhi-based theatre group which has been doing exciting, beautiful theatre. Rasa Aur Drama chats with the director of Theatreworms, Kaushik Bose, whose play Flesh- based on Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik's novel, The Pregnant King-has been selected for The Theatre Olympics 2018 and will be staged in Kolkata on February 28. The Theatre Olympics is an international theatre festival that will feature work by eminent theatre directors, theatre groups, drama institutions from India and abroad and will showcase outstanding productions that have been performed for the public. The Ministry of Culture in association with National School of Drama (NSD) is hosting the event in India.

Theatreworm productions

Rasa Aur Drama: Dear Kaushik, do tell us about Theatre worms and some of your productions?

Kaushik Bose: Theatreworms Productions started six years ago as a weekend theatre group. In last six years we have worked on a mix of original scripts and classics. Despite being a relatively young group we have staged three critically acclaimed plays Flesh, Compunction and Dilapidated and currently working on a new adaptation of a Tagore classic. While “Flesh” has been adapted from Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik’s novel, The Pregnant King, Compunction and Dilapidated are a psychological thriller and a love story, respectively.

Q2) Why a need for a new group in the bubbling theatre environment of Delhi?

KB: Delhi’s theatre scene, though growing, has a dearth of original and thought-provoking ideas. At Theatreworms we try to work on plays that deal with meaningful and relevant subjects that viewers would think about long after they have finished watching a play. Be it on serious issues such as sexuality, identity and LGBTQ issues, or a psychological thriller or a love story, we try to strike a chord with the audience by making the play a vehicle to carry serious messages. I would choose quality over quantity any day, and that is as good a reason as any to put a new and dynamic group like Theatreworms on the lively map of Delhi theatre.

A scene from Flesh

Q3) How far does a play, which traces same-sex love to the Mahabharata, go in affecting common sensibilities, if at all ?

KB: We love learning through our stories. And if a story is well told it does leave an impact on common sensibilities, despite the story being from the times of Mahabharata. Flesh is extremely relevant to current times as it explores pertinent questions related to sexuality, identity and choices. Are men and women rigidly bound by societal roles or are they free to exercise their own choice about what role they want to play in life? Is identity a prisoner of birth and anatomy? Does love have boundaries? In today’s times, people are grappling with such questions day in and day out.

Q4) Do you think there are many many stories in our mythology, which more vividly explore same-sex love but yet to be given a stage?

KB: Interestingly, Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik’s other book, Shikhandi and other tales they don’t tell you narrates many such stories, which can be adapted for stage. It would be great to see theatre groups take up these challenging stories and stage them.

Q5) A king cannot be a mother and a ruler at the same time. Aren’t we deciding roles based on "the other". What Sartre says your existence is authentic because others validate. Couldn't we start ignoring "the other"?

KB: Yes, absolutely. And Flesh questions and challenges those beliefs we have. We need to make room for all within a spectrum. Good, bad and everything in between. Man, woman and everything in between.

A scene from flesh

Q6) Please tell Rasa Aur Drama about the production process?

KB: For a production to begin, we need a good script and actors. Without actors there is nothing. We invest the most in those critical aspects of the production. The actors are taken through various workshops to prepare them for the roles they are playing. For Flesh, a considerable attention has been given to the actors on stage. The designing of the production follows as the scenes evolve through what the actors bring to the stage.

Q7) How easy or difficult was it to put the author's work on stage, given the fact that he follows the sutra form of writing?

KB: It was challenging since The Pregnant King had multiple sub-stories and events. There are many things one has to keep in mind, foremost being the ability to successfully capture the spirit of the author’s work and present it on stage. The events of the book have been presented in non-linear narrative to keep the audience engaged.

Q8) Please speak about the authors' contribution to the playmaking process?

KB: Dr. Pattanaik was extremely kind to give us the permission to adapt this book of his. The script development went through multiple modifications and he has been involved in giving his feedback for the same. Since FLESH is now being staged in the Theatre Olympics 2018, we hope to reach out to a larger audience and fans of Dr. Pattanaik. In a way, it is our tribute to him.

Q9) Can you tell us something more about the promotion process of the play?

KB: The promotion of the play is largely done on social media and through individual networks. Media listings and interviews/previews by publications before the show also help us spread the word. We are lucky to have a close-knit team that goes out of its way to do everything it can to help the promotion process. However, it will be critical that corporate houses/ organisations take notice of the good work done by theatre and supports this art.

Thanks Kaushik for a chat. We wish you all the best for the Theatre Olympics.

About the Blogger:

Deepak Sinha is a theatre critic and has written for MyTheatre Cafe, International Business Times, Wildnest (blogs) and Loud Applause.

He loves to organize TEDx conferences and is an organiser at TEDxPune. If you liked this story click on the image to email him!

Twitter: deepaklazuli

email: rasaaurdrama@gmail.com

Instagram: Pune_theatre_guide

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