Bengali Theater in North America : My First Experience

Since 1989 I have been involved with Bangla Theater in USA. Over the years I have worked with several groups, several associations and have been involved with several theater productions. My theater journey in this country started with the theater group Sansaptak with their production “Sabda Moho Bandhane”. The play was directed by Sakti Sengupta.  Being involved with theater since my childhood, I was a bit skeptic about the theater scenario in USA when I first arrived in this country.  But my first experience was not only a pleasant surprise but an extremely enjoyable one.  All the stereo typical notions of expatriate Bengali theater were shattered with that production.  Sakti-da took us through a complete production development process of a new play. The script was developed based on Shirshendu Mukherjee’s short stories, Sunil Ganguly and Sakti Chattopadhyay’s poems.  It was not a simple narrative, but rather a complex collage of character’s, their relationships, their dreams and disillusionment.

The play was not an easy one, and we had to struggle to develop the characters. Sakti-da worked hard with us, tried to help us understand the characters and their motivations. Since the play was continuously evolving, the characters too were evolving, and that made the task more difficult.  The show was well appreciated by the audience but for many it was quite tough nut to crack.   The play was staged at the Parish Player’s theater in Plainfield and we staged three shows. The cast included Dhriti Bagchi, Omkar Goswami, Kasturi Dasgupta, Sadhan Mondol, Soumendu Bhattacharya and myself.

Unfortunately, after this play Sakti Sengupta stopped doing Bengali plays for a while and his theater group Sansaptak became kind of defunct. Many of the cast members are still involved with theater. Omkar Goswami went back to India. Sakti-da came back to Bengali theater after many years, but unfortunately I did not have the pleasure of working with him again.  I hope someday we’ll be able to collaborate on a new play together.

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