A mirror to the city

A mirror to the city

The theatre was created to tell people the truth about life and the social situation," said Stella Adler once. On these lines is 'Boiled Beans On Toast', one of the different plays that will be presented on stage as part of the 'Deccan Herald Theatre Festival 2017', which will be on from December 3.  

This play, which is written by Girish Karnad, revolves around the unsung tales of ordinary Bengalureans and their struggles. It is directed by Prakash Belawadi. Starting under a single roof, the characters in the  play branch out in various directions and get entangled in the swirl of life. They lose track of themselves, separate and unexpectedly collide and careen off each other. The city is Bengaluru but anyone familiar with life in a modern Indian megalopolis will instantly respond to this portrayal of urban aspirations, conflict, blind groping and violence. The struggles and the madness in the play are interwoven with the joy and the hilariousness of everyday life in Bengaluru.

On the relevance of the play,  Prakash says, "In Girish Karnad's 'Boiled Beans On Toast', the play talks about people who think about the city as a haven and more. Karnad himself is a victim of road-widening near his residence and he fought against it without success.  He lets his characters speak  without comments and without judgement. The play is seemingly light but loaded with nuance."

Prakash adds, "The only character  who is genuinely from the city, who has been living in the city since he was two years old, is Kunal. Like he reckons, the city is an accident, it exists and survives for no reason."

The director feels that it is typical for Indian intellectuals to romanticise the village as innocent, a place of harmony and grace. "And in contrast to paint the city as a place where people become corrupt, lose idealism and  compassion for fellow beings. It is rare to get a vision that is opposite in this country, where the characters say that I managed to find relief in the city. This is why a Karnad play is unique," he adds.  

Why was this play chosen for the festival? "The reason is strange yet simple - I have always  wanted to work on a Girish Karnad play," says Prakash. The play is being presented in a unique format.
"It's an English play but to me the play should sound  like how Bengalureans speak. The effort  is to make the play seem like our thing," he says.

Prakash points out that it is difficult to write about contemporary themes in the city. "There are many films which are shot here but are never about the city. The purpose of art is to represent the familiar and to not take it for granted and  to make the unfamiliar seem intimate. It will be unique for Bengalureans to watch a play about themselves," he adds.

The 'Deccan Herald Theatre Festival', which is curated by Sandbox Collective, aims to be different from it's earlier editions. Ask Prakash about how this festival would connect to the city's youth, he says, "The festival is being held at multiple venues which should  attract a mix of audiences. The play is about young people and all the people in the play who matter are young," he says.

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