Bratya Basu is currently one of the brightest young playwright and director of the Bengali stage in Kolkata. He is in USA now, rehearsing and preparing his latest directorial venture covering the post independence era of modern Bengali theatre. The play will be staged at the 25th North America Bengali Conference on July 3rd, at the Hammerstein Ballroom in Manhattan, New York. I asked him few questions on how he conceived of this project and the challenges he faced in directing this show.
Sudipta: NABC 2005 is celebrating 200 years of Bengali theatre through three plays covering the period. You have written the script and directing one of the segments. What part of this vast canvas are you covering in your segment?
Bratya: I have tried to cover the post independence era of modern Bengali theatre, from 1950 to 2000. The play presents snippets from several plays covering this period including a play from Bangladesh. The plays are, “Raktakarabi”, “Raja Oedipous”, “Tiner Talowar”, “Sarater Megh”, “Chak Bhanga Modhu”, “Ebong Indrajit”, “Winkle Twinkle” and “Eersha”.
Sudipta: What was your criteria in selecting the play segments?
Bratya: I primarily used three criteria to select my play segments; (a) Plays that were important as contemporary theatre during its time, (b) it has a significant literary value, (c) and is still relevant to our society in its fundamental message.
Sudipta: What was your thought process in developing your segment?
Bratya: It was particularly challenging for me to figure out a method to develop the entire play such that it comes out as a whole entity, even when the segments themselves stand out as an individual theatrical unit. Of all the three plays, I am the only director who is working with actors from India as well as USA. I had to take special care to ensure that there exists proper synergy and balance between the segments acted by the different groups of actors and also to develop a relationship as a team. To work as a team they need to get familiarized with the acting style and patterns of each other, build the mutual trust that is absolutely essential in producting a theatre. Since many of the actors whom I am working with in this play are new to me, I was not sure whether I’ll be able to get what I want from them and stage a show where the proper balance is maintained. I am glad to say that I was able to achieve that.
Sudipta: What can the audience expect to see in this segment?
Bratya: Primarily, I expect the audience to experience the development and evolution of modern Bengali theatre. They will also exprience a modern theatrical approach and acting style that is rooted in Bengal but international in every sense.
Sudipta: Is this your first visit to North America Bengali Conference? If so, what is your expectation?
Bratya: Yes, this is my first NABC. My expectation is that I’d like to see that true cultural relationship and cultural exchange happen through this conference. I’d like to see that this conference bring to life the true international spirit of Bengali culture in all its glory.