I have been watching experimental theater since year 2000 in Pune mostly. I have watched them at various places, including Sevasadan, Kalachaya open theater, apart from usual enclosed, full size theaters. Maharashtra Cultural Center (MCC), an organization started few years back, with aim to promote performing art, started with a small enclosed, but intimate theater in the city, which is called Sudarshan Rangmanch. They also recently opened another location called Joytsna Bhole Sabhagrih.
MCC has been organizing theater festivals since their inception title RangMahotsav. I happened to watch a solo one act play titled unSEEN.
The handout handed over by volunteers outside the theater said that the play was about woman’s expression womanhood in general, the agony, pain she goes through, due to discrimination. All this is prompted by learning about Rabindranath Tagore’s response to Pandita Ramabai’s views on women’s self-reliance, women’s capabilities both physical and mental, intellectual, and other progressive thoughts towards women in the society.
I did not realize that it would solo, in the first place, that too with no dialogues, almost a solo mime. Kalyani Mulay played the key role. The play opened with a loud noise of pressure cooker, that went on for almost 7-8 minutes, with kitchen platform kind of setup on the right side of the stage, and a person seemingly doing something in the kitchen, with no spoken words. Then the lady walks in, halts at the side of kitchen platform, with a letter in hand, reading text, which makes sense at the beginning, but gets garbled as it goes on. And what follows after that is revelation of how one can think of various ways of expressing.
The various stages of womanhood and what it means being a woman were depicted with bold use of body by the actress. Some of the depictions, such as lady shaving her leg on the stage, and others, the audience is left in awe, and perplexed with the whole canvas it opens up in front of them. As mentioned earlier, this play is a reaction on the stage to a particular event. Similarly, the renowned theater personality Atul Pethe recently did a 15 min solo as a reaction to another event related to recent killing of personalities who represented progressive thoughts. It was titled Protest. I could not watch it live, but it is on YouTube for you to watch here.