On 13th of May 2001, when the entire state of West Bengal was experiencing the euphoria of change, the landscape of Bengali theatre also changed forever. Badal Sircar, the maverick of Indian theatre, passed away almost unnoticed. But I am not going to write an obituary of Badal Sircar, neither I am going to write his biography. Rather I’d like to share with you my experiences with this theater personality through his work and from few of my personal interactions with him.
My first experience with Badal Sircar was when I was a child. In our campus (I grew up in IIT Kharagpur campus) the faculty, staff and students often staged plays and I think it was with “Boro Pishima” I first experienced theatre and it changed my life in many ways forever. Later I saw “Solution X” where my mother also participated in one of the lead characters. Few years later, when I was in high school, I went to see a student’s production (TDS _- Technology Dramatic Society) and was shaken to the core to see “Michhil” performed. It was an experience that I could never have expected. For the first time I realized that theater does not require a stage, does not require any expensive sets, any lights or any sophisticated sounds. All it needs are performers and an audience. And in most cases, the barrier between a performer and audience faded away – they became one whole theatrical entity. I also learned the term “Third Theatre”. The apparent simplicity of these production made me think, can theatre be so easy? My friends and I started to produce Badal Sircar, “Michhil”, “Bhoma” and others. We even started performing regular proscenium kind of plays in third theatre form. Continue reading