Durga Puja festival has always been a great source of inspiration to me as a cartoonist. I have drawn several cartoons related to this festival and the way we celebrate it in our adopted homeland. Last week I posted one on the “Chanda” issue. This cartoon (drawn a long time ago for Kallol Sahityo Patrika) also takes a spin on the same touchy subject. In earlier times (late 80’s and early 90’s), the Pujo organizers did not specify or “suggest” any contribution amount to the attendees. The strong “suggestion” became, sort of, necessary from the later half of the 90’s when goat meat (or mutton curry) became a must item at the Saturday evening community dinner. Goat meat has always been an expensive item, and with the unpredictable attendance being a major problem, estimating the amount of meat to be cooked is always an issue. The volunteers serving dinner had to deploy smart strategies to control the number of mutton pieces to the hungry devotees standing in the line. At the beginning phase, they are generally generous, especially to their friends and families. However, soon (after a quick review by the supervisors) the strategy changes to a rationing mode when the number of mutton pieces served becomes indirectly proportional to the number of attendees. Now in this situation, the tired and hungry attendee, who has paid the “suggested minimum contribution” has all the right to demand a “suggested minimum number of pieces” of the precious goat meat. After all, that was one of the key factors that attracted him to this festival in the first place!
Recently we (ECTA) had the opportunity to stage our new play “Taconic Parkway” at the California Natyamela 2008 held at the Amador Theater in Pleasanton, CA. Last year when I was visiting California to see the staging of my play “Ron” by the local group ENAD, I met Pradosh Sarkar who invited me to participate at the 2008 Natyamela, their fourth year of the festival. Pradosh Sarkar, a playwright and director himself, is a key member of Sanskriti, the group that organizes the Natyamela. In the previous years they limited their invitation only to the local groups, but Pradosh told me that he wants to make an exception in 2008 by inviting us from New Jersey. And I had no option but to accept the offer when he also assured me that they would take care of the expenses. However, Pradosh reminded me that they have a time limitation and each play must be limited to an hour, give or take ten minutes. This was a challenge for me since the plays we had in our repertoire all exceeded this limit. But I thought that this may be a perfect opportunity to work on a new play that was brewing in my mind for some time. After I came back, I started to work on the script and soon developed a one act play named “Taconic Parkway” which perfectly fits the bill for the California Natyamela 2008. It had three characters, and was limited to an hour and ten minutes. Continue reading
Sanjoy, a young software professional, has arrived in the “land of opportunity” for just over six months and works for a software body shopping company “InterSoft” owned and operated by Bill (a Bengali American living in the States for over thirty years.) On the day of the play Bill fires Sanjoy and asks him to go back to India. Sanjoy, however, is not happy with this decision and refuses to oblige. He informs Bill that he is not going to return to India under any circumstances. He states that returning to India is synonymous to signing a death warrant for himself. He cannot subject himself to such a grave risk. And to justify himself, and to win his ultimate motive, he has to make a choice between truth or deceit.
ECTA (Ethnomedia Center for Theater Arts) presents this new Bengali play (with English SuperTitles) at the Edison Valley Playhouse, in Edison NJ on June 28, 2008 at 3.30pm.