London is always bursting at the seams with exciting events. But there is one annual fringe theatre festival that is close to my heart – A Season of Bangla Drama. This is now in its thirteenth year and is running from the 1st till the 29th of November 2015; bringing a programme of the best new talent in theatre, dance & music to London’s East End.
The organisers have asked me to review and blog about this year’s plays. And as with every year, it’s an absolute honour for me to engage with a festival I would encourage everyone to attend. It’s a month of discovering emotions within you that you may have never felt before, and watching the stage come alive with colour, powerful delivery, rhythm, and storytelling that continue to enrich our community.
Nripati (The Emperor)
By Arts & Drama Development Association
Written by Humayun Ahmed
On Sunday 22nd of November, on a bitterly cold evening in London, we entered the Brady Arts Centre Theatre to be transported to the life of an Emperor and the people in his land. A winter under a corrupt and selfish king results in his subjects rising up against him. Many are forced to act like puppets or won over with gold and gifts if they attempt to question the regime. Farce and comedy are used to represent his clever and guileful ways with visual motifs such as the gaining of a hunched back to represent those who have succumbed to bribery. The old and wise court singer remains steadfast and his eyes are plucked out, with the ironical outcome that only the blind man sees the truth. Eventually, the tables are turned; this satirical play depicts the ultimate victory of the people over a dictator and his evil ways, whilst driving home the importance of resisting the impulse of greed and acquiescing to tyranny.
That was a play brief we were really impressed with. Now to see it come to life….
The stage, warmly lit, was very simple and props kept minimal. The costumes however made up for the simple set. Vibrant, opulent and well thought out. The emperor was in his element and within a few minutes of watching the production, the audience was laughing at the well placed humour and excellent timing. I thoroughly enjoyed the way in which serious subjects such as hunger, draught, poverty and governance were exhibited in a light but powerful way. My favourite parts were the use of the human body to not only enhance the dialogue but also to symbolise society and our strengths and weaknesses. The actors were incredibly confident in their roles and executed the nature of the character in a very believable manner. These aspects really brought home an exciting take on satirical theatre. The audience, although thoroughly enjoying the comedy, were clearly touched and inspired by the delivery of the core message in the end.
As one of the directors of a human rights charity, there were many areas of this play that were close to my heart. And ultimately, it was the message of togetherness and strength in numbers and in community that reminded us all of the power of resistance and also the dangers of ignorance being bliss and greed. We were reminded in the end, just how easily swayed as human beings we can be and how we must stay fair and firm to the truth.
© 2015 Shroomantics ~ Rahima Begum