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
Dr. Mohan Agashe is regarded as one of the best character actors of Indian stage and screen. Currently he is visiting USA to direct a play for Epic Actor’s Workshop at the Eighth South Asian Theatre Festival to be held at the Crossroads Theatre in New Brusnwick New Jersey (see calendar on the side bar). I grabbed this opportunity to invite him at our EBC Drama Club to share with us his experience in Theatre and Film. He talks about his childhood days, his experience with Vijay Tendulkar’s Ghasiram Kotwal, about Satyajit Ray, Utpal Dutt, Film and Television Institute of India and many other things. Click the player below to listen to this exciting conversation with Dr. Mohan Agashe.
New Jersey has many things to be proud of – the Jersey shores, the Atlantic City Boardwalk, the Meadowlands, the Pine Barrens – the list is quite long. Now you can add to that list, the South Asian Theatre Festival organized by Epic Actors Workshop, a theatre and performing arts organization of New Jersey. Over the last seven years, South Asian Theatre Festival of New Jersey has established itself as an unique event that we all look forward to. A festival dedicated to celebrate South Asian theatre is not a common occurrence in this part of the world. Showcasing the rich and diverse theatre of South Asia to the greater American audience is no small feat. It requires vision, a great deal of motivation, and a huge amount of resources, for which the host organization Epic Actors Workshop and its leader Dr. Dipan Ray deserves a huge applause from us all theatre lovers. This year Epic Actors Workshop celebrates it’s twenty fifth anniversary by hosting the eighth South Asian Theatre festival at the Crossroads Theatre in New Brunswick New Jersey on Sept 27th, 28th and 29th with a gala presentation of eight plays. Continue reading
Anton Chekov has been on of the most celebrated playwrights and short story writers of the modern times. Konstantin Stanislavsky and his Moscow Art Theatre brought Chekov in front of the western audience at a time when Chekov was almost about to give up writing plays. Four of his most famous plays, “The Seagull”, “Uncle Vanya”, “Three Sisters” and “Cherry Orchard”, were all produced and staged by Moscow Art Theatre. Since then Chekov’s plays have been performed all around the world in multiple languages. In Kolkata, Chekov was made popular by the famous theater group “Nandikar”, and more specifically by Ajitesh Bandopadhyay. ”Swan Song”, one of Chekov’s popular plays, is a touching portrayal of a sixty eight year old stage actor who laments the loss of his youthful days and the apathy of his audience. Swan Song  was one of his early plays featuring two characters: Vasili Svietlovidoff, a 68 year old comic actor and Nikita Ivanich, who is an even older man, the theater’s prompter. Following a benefit evening in his honor, unbeknownst to everyone, the comic actor Svetlovidov falls asleep in a drunken blur. When he awakens, the theater is dark and empty. He falls quickly into saddened monologue..
The play was also adapted by Ajitesh Bandopadhyay in Bengali as “Nana Ranger Din” and there is hardly any actor who hasn’t attempted this piece in his life. Couple of weeks ago, we did a broadcast of “The Swan Song” on EBC Radio on our EBC Drama Club show. The performers include Dwaipan Mukherjee as Nikita the prompter, and myself as Vasili the actor. The translation is by Marian Fell. Enjoy.
by Amitava Sen
A Bengali friend asked rhetorically “Why do you think quite a few, a significant proportion at that, of our daughters are marrying outside the Bengali community and indeed majority of them preferring white Americans?” He thought he had an answer too, “They have concluded, observing their Bengali fathers I think that the Bengali men are opinionated, argumentative, obstinate, dominating and positively not romantic.”
Well that may be a strong sweeping statement, not based on any poll data or census study; but searching for causality, it is possibly safe bet to make an intuitive conjecture on the subject. I could see through the point my friend was trying to make. Our children have the luxury of wider perspective and many options, as opposed to the situation in our left behind homeland. And they do compare and choose. Continue reading
Few years ago, we at ECTA staged a two person play – “Satyameva”. The play was first staged in Kolkata (at the Sujata Sadan) with Indranil Mukherjee and Sankar Ghoshal performing the two roles and I was the director. The play was very well received by the audience and later on Ashoke Mukhopadhyay (who was in the audience in one of the shows), director of the well known group Theater Workshop picked up the play and staged it (renamed as Jodiyo Galpo) on a regular basis with himself as the director and actor along with Krishnagati Mukherjee as his co-star. The play was revived again in New Jersey by ECTA and this time Indranil Mukherjee directed the play with Pinaki Datta and me as his cast. The play was staged in New Jersey, Columbus Ohio, Los Angeles California and San Francisco California. The play was also translated and staged in Marathi in New Jersey by Sharad Sathe and his team. Satinath Mukhopadyay, the famous radio artiste, presented this play on his radio show “Aschhe Se Aaschhe”. Still many people have missed this play on stage and requested us to share the video. I strongly believe that a video recording can never offer the same experience as that of a live performance. But to meet the demand of our audience, we are releasing a complete video recording of one of the New Jersey stagings of “Satyameva…” Also, please be reminded that this recording was done using a single camera without any editing or enhancements and hence the video and audio quality is far from perfect. Continue reading
By Amitava Sen
This is the other Bengali convention I am writing about. Not many know that it exists, but it has lived for last fifteen years, hail and hearty.
The event is organized by Mid America Bengali Association (MABA), a loosely held central body of many regional Bengali clubs from Louisville, Chicago, Birmingham, Atlanta among other cities. No one owns a franchise and it is made obvious by the apparent absence of claims of ownership by the organizing leaders of the convention. Continue reading
It is well known that Bengalis have a weakness for literary magazines. Although I am not sure how much of this weakness can be attributed to their thirst for literature versus their thirst to see their name in print, but I am quite sure that if someone accounted for the huge number of Bengali magazines that are published around the world, the number would surely find a spot in the Guinness book of world records. There hardly exists any Bengali who has not been involved with the publication of a magazine in their lifetime. These magazines, also known as little magazines, often serve as the launching pad for many a literary stalwart. They challenge the establishment of big publishing houses and their glossy publications and offer their readers an alternative to the beaten path. They represent the dreams and aspirations of the Bengali youth. Unfortunately, most of these magazines are short lived and they whither away after few issues. In this country too, I have come across many such Bengali magazines which offered the readers a taste of their culture in print or in electronic form. Unfortunately they too did not last long. The primary reasons for their untimely death are lack of funds, lack of focus and lack of business acumen.