Stories of freedom struggle played back on stage

By V.S. Karnic, IANS

Bangalore : Freedom fighters will take turns to narrate their experience of India’s struggle for independence and minutes later these stories will be enacted on stage. What’s more, the entire performance will be spontaneous!

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This unique tribute will be paid by a group of young theatre activists – including software and marketing professionals – in Bangalore Saturday ahead of the 60th anniversary of Independence Day Aug 15.

“Four freedom fighters have so far agreed to come and narrate their experiences and we will turn their story into a play,” said Ranji David, one of the promoters of the group Yours Truly Theatre.

“This form is called Playback theatre,” David, who works with Dell, told IANS.

The five-year-old group, he said, has over 100 members but about 40 are active. “We experiment with various forms.”

“This is the first time we have chosen the freedom struggle as the theme for the Playback genre of theatre,” he said.

The actors improvise the dialogue and try to recapture the narration as a play, David said.

One of the freedom fighters who has agreed to come and narrate her experiences is Amrita Bai, who is 85-years-old, he said.

“The group does not know any other details about her. Her son-in-law who came to know about our programme called to tell that she will be there to narrate her story,” David said.

The performance will not be a rehearsed one.

“Only tomorrow (Aug 11) will we hear the story from these freedom fighters,” he said.

“We are trying to get many more freedom fighters to come and participate,” David said, adding “time with us is short as we thought of this idea only recently”.

“Thirteen members of the group, 12 men and one woman, will take part in tomorrow’s programme. They will be supported by three musicians who are members of a young, upcoming Bangalore band called Schikadojs,” he said.

“We also have a sketch artist who will sketch the scenes as they are enacted. We will frame these sketches there itself and present them as mementos to the freedom fighters whose experiences we enact,” David said.

He said he and other members of the group have been active in theatre for around 10 years and formed the ‘Yours Truly’ group five years back.

“All of us work (elsewhere) for a living,” he said when asked whether they are full time into theatre.

“There are software professionals, people into marketing, advertising and various other professions as members of the group. There are some engineering students,” David said.

Of the 40 active members, 10 are women, he added.

The group has staged plays for the benefit of NGOs, the SOS Children’s village and other groups working for the welfare of the poor and the destitute, David said.

To upgrade their skills, the members invite professional theatre personalities to conduct workshops for them.

“We attend various workshops and also organise some on our own and invite people from the National School of Drama, Delhi, to hone our skills,” David said.

The tickets for the Aug 11 show are priced Rs.100. “Yes. Not many people prefer to go and watch a play by paying such an amount. But we do expect a good response Saturday in view of the unique concept,” David said.