Remembering Anne Frank: A theatrical ode on the Delhi stage
Anne Frank’s writing, which bears witness to the Holocaust, has been popular among readers from all generations. Now, two Delhi-based theatre artists, Debarati Sikder and Ambalika Raha, have come together to present their directorial debut performances — Udherbunn and Hunger — to remember Frank on her birth anniversary (June 12).
On 11 April 1944, a 14-year-old girl wrote: “Let me be myself and then I am satisfied. I know that I’m a woman, a woman with inward strength and plenty of courage.” Having witnessed the Holocaust, these words that came out of Anne Frank’s (1929-45) pen pierce readers across ages till date. Among the many, the world over, who relate with her writing, are two Delhi-based theatre artists, Debarati Sikder and Ambalika Raha, who have come together to present their directorial debut performances — Udherbunn and Hunger — to remember Frank on her birth anniversary (June 12).
“The evening, led by two women, will honour and celebrate Anne Frank through their work,” shares Raha, whose maiden direction, Hunger, is an adaption of Franz Kafka’s short story, A Hunger Artist. Through a nine-member cast, she explores how the newness of the circus drains the protagonist’s audience, causing his death. “The protagonist of my play is a cartoonist who shares the same dilemma as that of the character in the story, A Hunger Artist, who accepts a new world order by surpassing his ego of being a mainstream cartoonist to become a digital influencer. He manages to adapt his hunger without superseding public will, and sees the light of the day. The stories of the two artists contradicting each other’s philosophy leave us with a few questions about the existence of an artist,” explains Raha.
The play Udherbunn is a non-linear narrative of three characters, who have lost their close ones and in the course of life find themselves alone. It’s written and directed by Sikder, a graduate of National School Of Drama, who shares, “Frank’s writings became a part of my journey from the time I first read her, back in the day when I was pursuing my higher education. Her ideas made me see the social norms and conditioning that I grew up with, in a new perspective, and that’s how I’m able to relate to her.”
“Udherbunn is influenced by a short story, by Shantinath Desai, which revolves around the lives of a father-daughter duo trying to manage their lives without the wife or mother. The tension rises when a third person enters their life. What I personally found interesting was the layering of social conditioning and the inner voices of the characters and the tussle between the two. I started wondering how things would have been much different if the protagonist was a woman and that’s what my play unravels,” adds Sikder, about the one hour long performance.
Catch It Live
What: Hunger and Udherbunn
Where: Muktadhara Auditorium, Bhai Veer Singh Marg, Gole Market
When: June 12
Timing: 6pm and 7.15pm
Nearest Metro Station: Patel Chowk on the Yellow Line
Author tweets @AngelaPaljor