The Delhi-based Bela Theatre Group is organizing the Bela Theatre Terrace Festival (BTTF) in the heart of Delhi—at Connaught Place. The five-day festival, starting on Wednesday, will see multiple theatre groups presenting productions that explore a wide variety of subjects and themes, in their unique styles.
Among those performing, the Delhi-based Chhaon Theatre Group will present two plays—Waiting for Godot and Jootey. Lounge spoke to Hemant Raipuria, the director of the group and the plays, over the phone. Edited excerpts:
Tell us about your theatre group.
Chhaon Theatre Group began in the year 2005 with the aim of encouraging the art and culture of India. We wanted to do it with the use of theatre as a tool for the same. Presently, we are 14 members in all and have been involved in doing a variety of plays ever since the inception of our group.
What is ‘Jootey’ about?
Jootey is a play written by Nandkishore Acharya and is set in Baghdad. It’s a simple moralistic play illuminating how whatsoever we do in our lifetime returns to us in some form or the other. The protagonist of the play is a fellow by the name of Abu Qasim, who happens to be a slave to a wealthy merchant. One day, he sets sight on a new pair of shoes that his master is bounding around town in. Almost haplessly drawn to the shoes, he shows remarkable trickery in procuring them, even managing to earn brownie points from the merchant while at it.
A scene from Jootey, written by Nandkishore Acharya in Baghdad
Soon, Qasim finds himself climbing up the ladder of life until one day fate takes a turn for the worse and the shoes begin causing him insurmountable trouble. He soon starts trying to think up ways of disposing the evil pair. Much to his chagrin, the shoes seem to follow him everywhere. By the climax of the play, Qasim finds himself in the same state of indigence we met him in. In the end, your deeds catch up with you is what we are trying to say.
This happens to be the maiden performance of this 1-hour play.
How did the Bela Theatre Terrace Festival come about?
Like every other small theatre group, we used to face problems in getting dates at theatres to perform our plays. Money was another issue. We decided to do something about this. Four-five theatre groups—Chhaon, Bela, Kanak, etc. — decided to come together and practise on common grounds and pool in money for performances. The upcoming terrace festival is another attempt at drawing audiences towards our plays. All the plays are going to be held on the terrace of the Delhi Art Theatre building.
‘Waiting for Godot’ is probably one of the most famous plays in the world. How have you approached Samuel Beckett’s text?
I have tried to strip the play of all its realism and have lent it a more melodramatic, comic turn. My characters will remind you of Laurel and Hardy or the histrionics of a Charles Chaplin. It was a deliberate decision to lean towards comedy since I have seen other productions of the play suffer from heavy dosages of philosophy in the past. The fact remains that people don’t like lectures. And so, I have tried to make it as interesting as possible.
All the plays will be held at F-37, Shankar Market, Connaught Place, New Delhi.
Waiting for Godot—7.30pm, 25 May
Munh Kala—7.30pm, 26 May
Jootey—7.30pm, 27 May
Oedipus—7.30pm, 28 May
Faisla—7.30pm, 29 May