CAMERA OBSCURAS: WHICH “ROLE” ARE YOU PLAYING TODAY?

Posted by Kaahon Desk On September 4, 2014

Play: CAMERA OBSCURAS

Playwright: Vinay Sharma

Design, light, set, costume: Vinay Sharma

Cast: Anubha Fatepuria and Pradip Mitra

Direction: Vinay Sharma

Produced by PADATIK THEATRE & RIKH

Review:

The success stories in Indian Theatre mostly hold true for the proscenium stage and for plays which brings in realism in its content. Experiments within this theatrical form and performances are off course the cause for their economic success and their popularity but never do they break the proscenium form or the temporality of events or the linear narrative structure.

Padatik Little Theater offers a chance for those who want to explore the theatrical experience of space. “Camera Obscuras” gives that chance to the audience, where one can experience some fleeting events, some happenings if not a pre-structured story. The play consists of two characters, who are actors, arrive at some unknown place and decide to play the role of God and God’s television. The God relies on the perception of the camera of his television and as if he sees only that part of the world that his camera shows him. The actors used two mise-en-scenes, one carpet and a stick to change spaces and identities. An attribute of liquid modernity could be seen, where an expansion and contraction of the carpet showed dissolution of theatrical representations of space. The actors passed on the stick, and their performances staged pluralities of performed identities. Sometimes they performed the identity of a father-daughter relationship, sometimes of a woman who killed her psychopath husband, or a timid man who accidentally killed an unknown person. The play represented an ambient temporality, just the events changed with the camera angles.

The play broke the dramatic spectacle that is expected from the bourgeoisie theater space. Intimate, few, selected audience could feel that the performers were not their real self, but actors. Relying on the belief that the performers and for whom performed share, each audience could realize that even they perform roles in their real life.

The play used English language as its medium and seeked a new mobility as it moved towards Trans national identities. A problem was noticed at this point. Performance was expected to be experienced and understood within the site-specific cultural cross currents of a time, place, political and social scenario. Certain references that were given were difficult to identify from a certain territorial context. Travelling in “tube” is not very common in Indian context. Even “insanity” is culture specific. It was really difficult to relate as the fragments of life that were been referred in the play, did not belong to our popular memory and seemed to be forcibly inserted into an Indian context. The concept of an all-powerful linear singular person “God” is also very Euro-Centric. If the whole play revolves around “a belief in the genuineness of performance of both believer and the believed in” then it is unfair to present an unified concept of God to Indian masses.

The excellent performance by Anubha Fatepuria and Pradip Mitra, simple light scheme, and realist music wiped out all criticisms though. It is off course not an utopian dream when India would witness a serpentine queue in front of these “other spaces” to experience newer relationship with the spectator and the space if plays like “Camera Obscuras” are been performed regularly.

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