Playwright: Luigi Pirandello
Director: Debesh Chattopadhyay
Group: Sansriti, Kolkata
Language: Bengali & English
Duration: 2 hrs 05 mins
A group of actors are preparing to rehearse for a Pirandello play. They are interrupted by the arrival of six characters. The lead character, the father, informs the manager that they are looking for an author. He explains that the author who created them did not finish their story, and that they are therefore unrealized characters who are not fully brought to life. The manager who tries to throw them out, becomes intrigued when they start to relate their story. The father is an intellectual who married a peasant woman (the mother). Things go well until she falls in love with her husband’s male secretary. Having become bored with her over the years, the father encourages her to leave him. What ensues is an intimate and tragic chain of events.
Pirandellian themes like the relativity of truth, the constantly changing nature of personal identity, or the difficulty of distinguishing between reality and illusion or between sanity and madness all have a common thread – they all point to uncertainty as a significant part of human experience. In Six Characters in Search of an Author uncertainty begins with the introduction of the “characters.”
Pirandello has encouraged the audience to adopt their customary willingness to suspend disbelief and accept the stage illusion as reality. Therefore, if the audience has taken these initial characters for real, what must they do with a group that claims they are even more real than the actors in the Producer’s troupe? And the “characters” persist in their claim with such vehemence that their claim becomes compelling.
Contemporary jurisprudence demonstrates a similar phenomenon. No matter how certain a defendant’s guilty conduct seems to be, if the person charged with a crime persists in claiming innocence an air of uncertainty eventually envelops the proceedings and significant numbers believe the defendant innocent.
An even more obvious contribution to the audience’s sense of uncertainty is that Pirandello allows different versions of events to be presented but never suggests which might be more near the “truth.”
Chattopadhyay is associated with theatre for last 33 years. As a Founding Director of Sansriti, he has directed over 40 plays, amongst which Tughlaq has been a path breaking Bengali production. He is a theatre academic, playwright and scenographer, and has worked on a Senior Fellowship, On Cognitive Neuroscience and Theatre, and has also written books on theatre. He has been felicitated by The Week as one of the 50 emerging stars of India and honoured by the Paschim Banga Natya Akademi as the best director twice. Debesh directed his first feature film, Natoker Moto: like a play in 2015 which participated in International Film Festival of India, Goa; Indian Panorama and international competition sections 2015. Debesh has been recognised and honoured by Film Critic Circle of India as the best debut director for the film. Currently he is working on Natyashastra and on a new film called The Others.
Italian playwright, novelist, short-story writer Luigi Pirandello (1867-1936) won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1934. His creation of theatre-within-theatre in the play Six Characters in Search of an Author made him an innovator of ‘surreal’ modern drama overnight.
Sansriti was formed in February 1993. It was the only group in Kolkata that introduced scenography which meant that the play is not only performed through dialogues but also with proper use of space and time, and with a non-linear narrative that includes mise en scène as characters. The acceptance of this search convinced the group to include Debesh Chattopadhyay’s research on cognitive science and theatre with productions like Brain.
Cast & Credits
|The Father||Ashim Roychowdhury|
|Step Daughter||Monalisa Chattopadhyay|
|The Son||Korak Samanta|
|The Boy||Udayshankar Samanta|
|The Child||Mrittika Chakroborty|
|Miss Laal||Papiya Banerjee|
|The Manager||Abhra Mukherjee|
|Leading Lady||Sudakshina Sarkar|
|Leading Man||Shouvik Majumdar|
|Group Members||Arnab Sengupta, Chandan Ghosh, Jyotirmoy Chakroborty, Biswajit Bhattacharya, Pratik Das, Iman Pahari, Debojyoti Goswami, Mayurchhanda Ghosh, Sanchaita Das, Biplab Adhikary.|
|Light Design||Sudip Sanyal|
|Light Operator||Snehasish Karmakar (Bappa)|
|Sound Design||Anindya Nandy|
|& Set Design||Debesh Chattopadhyay|
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