Over the years, I have tried to capture the conflicts and struggles of our expatriate lives in America through my plays. And one of the greatest struggles we face is to rear our children in this foreign land. In many of my plays, the relationship (and conflicts) between parents with their children has come up in various forms – sometimes intentionally and sometimes unintentionally. In “Ron” it was the conflict of ideals and loyalty between the two generations. In “Satyameva” the longing for parenthood of a lonely father was the key issue. In “Taconic Parkway” the struggle to cope with the loss of a teenage daughter created the drama. In “Cassandra…” the empty nesters hope and wish to get back to their child drove the play. However, the issue of parenting in its most primitive sense was never explored before until “Palok”. The challenges of rearing a child during the early formative years is the most trying period for any parent. It tests their patience, their resolve and their sense of responsibility to the maximum, especially in a country where you don’t have the support system of your immediate family. And during those difficult moments, they sometimes lose control of their senses and do things to their children which borders on “criminal” behavior. Continue reading
Recently, at the EBC Radio Drama Club show, I had the opportunity to chat with the noted theatre personality of Kolkata, Chandan Sen. Chandan Sen is quite well known to the theatre loving Bengali crowd of North America. He has not only directed and performed in plays in USA, but he has also been involved as a technical consultant to several North America Bengali Conferences. In this conversation Chandan talks about how he got into theatre, his views about the current status of theatre in West Bengal and many other things. I hope you enjoy the discussion.
Recently, the ECTA Theatre team gathered together at the EBC Radio studios to talk about their upcoming theatre production “Palok” or “The Protector” (to be staged at the Edison Valley Playhouse, in Edison NJ on April 5 and 6). Using the play as a spring board, the discussion soon veered off to the different issues and challenges of parenting in the United States, especially if the parents are of Indian or Asian origin. Any modern society imposes some strict rules on parenting, primarily to prevent child abuse. However, the thin line between disciplining a child and abusing, is quite blurry especially to an Asian eye. We Asian parents are accused of being too pushy, to harsh and strict on our children. Sometimes our lack of patience in letting a child correct himself, results in outright abuse in the eyes of Western Law. At times, we go to the other extreme and neglect our child, by not taking care of their well being, leaving them home alone for long hours etc. etc. We are often not aware of the child protective laws in this country and treat our children the way we were treated back home during our childhood. The play “Palok” (which means the rearer or the protector) deals with these topics and the team, joined by some enthusiastic callers, got into a heated discussion that I am sure you will enjoy. And after you listen to this discussion (click the player below), you may even be interested in coming to watch the show.
By Shyamal Sarkar
My four year old granddaughter, Tia and I were going up in our 14th floor apartment in a building in New York. She was counting 1, 2, 3, 4…. the ascending numbers in elevator display panel. She noticed something missing and says, “Look Grandpa, there is a mistake; there is no number 13 after 12”. A man in his mid-fifties, resident of the building was in the elevator; he grinned silently listening to Tia. “What is funny about the mistake?” Tia was puzzled. I patted her shoulder and said “Yes, it is a mistake; I will tell the building manager to fix it”. Continue reading
In 2006 ECTA (known as Ethnomedia then), our theatre group, staged our play “Ron” to a packed Rabindra Sadan audience. The experience was overwhelming as well as humbling at the same time. It was for the first time, we were telling our story of immigrant life to the Kolkata theatre audience. This encouraged us to do another show the following year of “Satyameva”. The audience loved it too. Ashok Mukhopadhyay of Theatre Workshop picked up the play and produced it as part of their repertoire. Since then, it has been a long time we staged any of our later plays in Kolkata. The sheer logistics and economics of the endeavor held us back.
Now once again, ECTA is back in Kolkata with one of its latest productions – “Banijye Basate Lakhsmi” to be staged at the Sujata Sadan theatre (7 Hazra Road, Kolkata) at 6:00pm. The play is presented in Kolkata by SEPA and Theatrics (two organizations dedicated to promote education and culture through performing arts) on the occasion of the inauguration of their print and web magazine.
“Banijye Basate Lakshmi” is a one person play written and performed by yours truly and directed by Sankar Ghoshal. A humorous but poignant tale about a man’s conflict in deciding his objective in life, has touched the heart of each and every person who watched this one-person show. It has been staged few times in New Jersey and in Chicago and has received rave reviews. I hope our friends in Kolkata like it as much.
Tickets (Rs 80.00) can be reserved by calling the following numbers: 9007807831, 9007540974
Few weeks ago, I went to see a play at the Cherry Lane Theatre in New York. But it was not one of the typical off-broadway productions that you expect to see at such a venue. It was one of the well known modern plays of India, “Adhe Adhure” by Mohan Rakesh. The play was, of course, staged in English as “Half Hearted” and had a very short run of four shows. But the cast and the crew put in all their heart and soul to present a wonderful production which touched the audience. After the play, I invited the production team to join me at the EBC Radio studios and have a chat about their dreams, visions and their passion for South Asian theatre. Here is a recording of my conversation with Samir Lal, Dipanjan Chatterjee, Prince Vaghani and Akshay.
by Amitava Sen
As I entered Some Place Else, a discotheque at The Park Hotel in Calcutta, I actually felt like I was indeed in some place else. Deafening music and alcohol flowing, the youthful revelers were in a boisterous mood. Specially what caught my eyes is the attire of the female members of the crowd and the minimal urge to cover the body parts. That’s what I realized, really jolted me a little. After all, it was not a place for me to be visiting, neither did I belong there. I was not only long past being a member of the twenty something generation, but I was quite unprepared for the the leap that Calcutta youth have taken. The reason for this intrusion was, getting my friend’s daughter home from a late night party. Indeed, her father was supposed to pick up her on his way home from the airport; his plane got delayed and I was called upon to do him a favor.
Madhu Rye is one of the most celebrated Gujarati playwrights and author of our times. His plays have been staged all around the Gujarati speaking world and has also been made into films. On a crisp fall afternoon at the EBC Radio studios, I had the opportunity to chat with him about his plays, his love for theatre and many other topics of mutual interest. Listen to the podcast below to get a glimpse of this invigorating personality. And if you are a Gujarati speaking person, then you’ll also like his reading of a short play. Enjoy!
Dr. Farley Richmond is regarded as one of the leading experts on traditional Indian performing arts and theatre in the western world. Throughout his career, Dr. Richmond has explored the theatrical arts of India, and South Asia, and has directed and staged many productions of Indian plays in USA. Dr. Richmond is the DIrector and Professor of the Center for Asian Studies at the University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. Recently he was in New Jersey to direct Girish Karnad’s play Hayavadana at the South Asian Theatre Festival hosted by Epic Actor’s Workshop. I grabbed this opportunity and invited him to join us for a chat at the EBC Drama Club where he discussed about various aspects of Indian theatre and his love for India. Enjoy the recording by clicking the player below.
Once again, the time of the year for all Bengalis around the globe has arrived. There is a nip in the air, the sky seems to have a brighter shade of blue with white clouds drifting casually, the leaves catching on that orange tint, and we know that Durga Puja is here in New Jersey. The Bengali clubs around the Garden State has geared up to welcome Maa Durga with the usual fervor, and here I am back again to give you a brief preview of the festivities being arranged for you. Read, think, budget, and then click on the registration link of the Puja of your choice. Continue reading