Recapturing Saddam

KATHMANDU: Last month we saw Barilai, a news report adapted for stage by M Art Theatre Group. This month we have Kaal Purush Saddam Prati, an essay published in a newspaper by Govinda Raj Bhattrai, adapted by the Astitwa Drama Group at Yala Maya Kendra, Patan Dhoka every weekend from January 6.

We don’t know whether it is lack of enough play writings or whether it is the directors’ choice to use other genres of literature for their purpose. Whatever the reason, directors have demonstrated their imaginative competence and creative talent for this difficult form of presentation.

Kaal Purush Saddam Prati is a solo performance by Subash Thapa under his own direction. Presented as a narrative monologue addressing Saddam after his fall, a single actor dressed in black, is successful in holding the audience’s interest for about 45 minutes.

Interaction with audience, body movements, dialogue delivery and expression are the strengths of the actor. On a bare stage, a chair at the centre, and various sketches of Saddam from his time of supreme power to the sage-like appearance during his capture in a hole and the lines from ancient Veda, meaning too much of everything is not good, constitute the setting.

Utilising the entire stage with his movements, dance and expressions, Thapa has been successful in juxtaposing the two extreme status of Saddam’s life — one when he was in absolute power and other when he was hiding in a burrow.

About his essay, Bhattrai said, “Saddam for me is not an individual but a temperament that we all have, to a lesser or greater degree, a symbol of over ambition, pride, and anger.”

(The play will be staged during weekends till January 29).