Reflecting country's state through satire
Rang – A Festival of Arts that recently concluded on July 29 was organised by the Film and Theatre Society of India. It offered to its audience some of the finest performances in the traditional Indian arts of theatre, folk music, photography and short film making. As a part of this on July 28, they staged the play Animal Farm.
An adaptation of George Orwell’s classic novel Animal Farm, this satirical adaptation by FTS represented how the political leaders gained power after freedom and thus India never came out of the slave rule. The play directed by Atul Satya Koushik, founder of FTS, tried to bring the concept of animal farm to Indian struggles for freedom and the developments after that.
This one of a kind presentation showed a hypothetical village where Britishers have gained control over some farms. The animals in the farm are fed up of the oppression they face. Their ‘Major’ Pig inspires them to fight for their own rights.
While Major dies, the other pigs in the farm take over, subduing the other animals by saying that the pigs were the only educated ones. They all storm the farm and the owner, James Manor is forced to flee with his wife and his assistants. Eventually, the one pig that truly cared about the animals is thrown out of the farm and the corrupt pigs take over and become just like the human owners who had oppressed the animals equally.
The play uses rural language (and even a lot of foul language!), folk songs and various other tools of conventional Indian theatre. Each act ended with a live folk song. The most brilliant part was the actors who were enacting the various animals, be it the dog whose tongue is always stuck out or the bird who is one of the chirpiest ever. All actors delivered brilliant performances as animals. Even the donkey is lovable.†
This was the premier show of the play. Atul says, “We’d been performing plays family issues and relationships since long and wanted something that was classical and also encompassing a larger issue.
All he political satires we looked at were contemporary but when I read Animal Farm, whose background is the Russian Revolution, I thought it could be converted to Indian sensibilities to show the struggle from before independence till now.”
The actors underwent workshops; they were given assignments to note down the characteristics of the animals. “We didn’t want a mask or make-up to be the highlight of the character but the characteristics. So the actors imbibed these characteristics to really represent the animals even though it was very difficult for the actors to maintain their limbs ina particular position for long hours,” he says. The play is now going to be performed at other places outside Delhi as well.