Curtains up on Drama festival

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A play on Dal Lake mesmerizes audience

Tanveen Kawoosa

A still from the play April Fool staged in Tagore Hall. Photo: Yawar Nazir

A still from the play April Fool staged in Tagore Hall. Photo: Yawar Nazir

To strike a chord with theatergoers, the weeklong Drama festival (from March 18 to 25) organized by the Jammu and Kashmir Academy of Art culture and Languages opened here at Tagore Hall. The festival will feature eight productions by eminent theatre directors.

The inaugural play of the festival April Fool by noted theatre personality Amin Bhat revolved around the fading glory of the world famous Dal Lake. Despite some flagging patches, the production offered the audience engrossing moments. “Apart from sensitizing public about the fading aquatic glory of the Lake, the intent of the comedy play was to expose audience to the subtle themes lying beneath the play,” said Bhat.

The opening scene sets the humorous tone of the production wherein two protagonists are engaged in conversation over the issue of Dal Lake. Plot within plot unfolds as one of the protagonists sends an SMS that Dal Lake is being shifted from present location to Ganderbal. The rumour gradually grows into a puzzle that seems impossible to resolve. The action shifts to the traitor who manages to fool the people while offering them land over the Lake.

The play portrays how Lake has been grappling with pollution and corruption thereby turning its preservation into complex mess. However, real strength of the production lies in its vital comic rhythm, which evokes laughter. Lighting appeared wee bit lackadaisical, resulting in the absence of required ambience to capture the changing moods of the play. Nevertheless, the scenes were powerfully enacted with simple dialogue delivery that lifted an audience to different time and locale. The play evoked laughter long and loud, but beneath the funny surface of the story, there was biting satire.

Every moment of the performers, their interactions and dialogue delivery contributed to create moments of sheer fun. Another noteworthy statement given by performer “Dal Lake is an unfinished agenda of Kashap Reshi” is a deep bold political statement metaphorically equated with the Lake. One more interesting feature in the play is the depiction of an old man searching for his donkey. His entry in every sequence adds new dimension to the play. In the end the same character makes a point that each one of us has an intrinsic character to become a fool.

Bhat’s cast does not resort to a hackneyed comic acting style. Drawn from real Kashmiri Village milieu, the characters are projected in a lifelike manner. The characters are so recognizable that audience may easily identify with them. The costume had a distinct flavour of Kashmir, yet artistic aspect for colours was missing. The relation of colours and characters is essential to understand the essence of the play. Though many scenes were intelligently choreographed by the director to create laughter, the characters in the sequence presenting live telecast show by April fool TV channel, lacked stamina. The redeeming feature of the production was the powerful performance by Ashraf Nagoo, the chief comic performer in the play.

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