Ibsen fest ends in Resurrection


He wrote his plays more than a century ago, yet his issues and his subjects are so relevant even today that one is immediately able to pick the strain or even identify with the circumstances and even the characters and the moral dilemma they face. This is the power of Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen.

Marking his death centennial, Gurukul organised an 11-day Ibsen Theatre Festival that came to an end on November 11 with the staging of Punarutthan (Resurrection) in Bengali/ English by the Centre for Asian Theatre (CAT), Bangladesh.

The play, written and directed by Kamaluddin Nilu, is a musical based on Ibsen’s words: “I’m free as a bird, no more living in cages for me.” Apart from Ibsen’s struggle within himself with doubts that he murdered the women in his plays, Punarutthan explores the freedom that he all along trudged to find.

If you’ve seen Mala-ysian or Korean silhouette puppetry shows, then this is the technique used to emphasise a number of things. Shadows are made maximum use of with even the characters dressed in black and white. The only colour on stage are the lights. The white curtain is used as a prop — once it becomes waves of a sea, the other time a translucent window into Susanna and Ibsen’s life.

With live music and the actors singing and dancing on stage, it was a novel experience.

The festival saw Ibsen’s plays staged by theatre groups from different countries like Bang-ladesh, Pakistan, Norway, India and of course Nepal. An Enemy of the People was staged by three groups and it was interesting to see the different interpretations of this single play.

Parnab Mukherjee’s Inviting Ibsen for a Dinner with Ibsen staged on November 9 deserves special applause, and in heaps. No doubt he goes back to India leaving behind many, many fans, admirers and well-wishers. The play was superb, and that is saying the very least.

The play was Mukherjee’s idea of Ibsen — Ibsen the playwright, Ibsen the artist, Ibsen the man... and also about what Ibsen would say about his plays, translations, characters, situations now. A solo act, one didn’t realise how the 80 minutes flew. Peter Watts and Ibsen and Dr Zubeck, the sculpture, the mountains, the rivers, the light and the dark, Nora, Maia, Irene — all were on stage as Mukherjee went back and forth, merged them, and tore them apart and finally tossed them from the cliff.

“Time, place and wo-rds merged” to give us an Ibsen we can only see through Mukherjee’s po-werful and thought provoking interpretation.

Sukarma created magic on November 10 as they performed Feeling of Life, which was their musical presentation based on based on Ibsen’s work, while prominent Nepali artists staged a painting exhibition inspired by the plays Fire in the Monastery and A Doll’s House.

Arohan Theatre staged Putaliko Ghar for the 149th time at the festival. And as many enthusiastic theatre buffs had to be turned away because of the theatre being ‘houseful’, Putaliko Ghar will be staged again on November 12 and 13 at 1:00 pm.