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A rare blend of arts at 9th Bharat Rang Mahotsav

The Japan Foundation brought together a unique event for the theatre aficionados in the capital. Arnab Banerjee reports.

india Updated: Jan 23, 2007 18:52 IST

Most South Asian countries marvel at India's cultural ethos, considered a major centre of both movies and live theatre, with many theatre professionals trained at institutions as New Delhi's National School of Drama (NSD).

But it is the efforts of the Japan Foundation which brought together a unique event for the theatre aficionados in the Capital.

Japan Foundation , which began showcasing their creative works of Japanese actors of contemporary theatre from Southeast Asia to other parts of Asia, presented an International Theatre Collaboration during the 9th Bharat Rang Mahotsav as part of the Rang Mahotsav.

A theatre collaboration of India, Iran, Uzbekistan and Japan titled Performing Women: Medea, Jocasta, and Clytemnestra was staged at Abhimanch Theatre, National School of Drama in New Delhi and left the audience asking for more.

"When the idea of joint projects was mooted with collaborations between nations, it was the Japan Foundation that came forward with the proposal of a joint production.

And that's how Performing Women: Medea, Jocasta, and Clytemnestra, was born, "shares Abhiliash Pillai from India who worked on Clytemnestra from The Trojan Women.

The play questions the functional myth in which the abuse of power destroys the individual.

The other two selected directors from Uzbekistan and Iran are widely recognized for their cutting-edge work. Ovlyakuli Khodjakuli, worked on Medea; and Mohammad Aghebati from Iran worked on Jocasta from Oedipus Rex.

Though the three sections were independent, all the performers came together on stage, and played their roles in their own section, while acting as the chorus in other sections.

What also served as great fascination for the Delhi audience was the inclusion of English subtitles in the background of the stage while the performers continued to act in their native languages – certainly a novel experience for many.

Set in a post apocalyptic no-man's land, the play in three sections, was taken from Greek tragedy on the subject of Woman.

Each section was directed by a different director, with the goal of exploring the concept of 'woman' as a metaphor for key concepts that inform our world today, including birth, death, love, suffering, destruction, war, God, atheism, and other concerns.

The directors' interpretation of the tragedies stood out with the reconstituted forms presented together. The 2-hour 50 minute long play got a standing ovation from the enthralled audience.

The internationally acclaimed contemporary Japanese artist Daisuke Nakayama designed the set and played a crucial role in working with the three directors to visually develop their images of the piece.

Music for the three sections was composed by composers from the respective countries, but the theme music connecting the three sections was composed by Artyom Kim from Uzbekistan.

The play will also be one of the main events of the Year of Japan in India 2007, which marks the 50th anniversary since the signing of the Cultural Agreement between Japan and India.