Based on a story by Mahashweta Devi, Bayan is that play which creates awareness about the core expression of her writing, i.e socio-economic disparities and the different shades of human life. Those living at the lower stratas of society, the Doms living in the darkness of crematoriums, the Bagdis, Dusaadhs, the Manjhis living on the banks of the river Ganju, and the tribal Santhals living in thick forest, remain deprived of the most basic human rights. Bayan’s Chandi Dansi is one who, at a very young age, is thrown into the work of burying dead animals. She is forced to live a life of great hardship. In time she decides to tie the knot with Malinder. However, the same Malinder later declares her to be a ‘hayan’ and Chandi Daasi loses all her rights to live a decent life. She starts believing that her life of inhuman exile is simply the norm.
Finally, her son Bhagirath emerges as the symbol or representative of change in the young generation and is able to ignite the spark of self-respect and dignity.
In my creative journey in field of theatre, alongwith the works of Rabindranath, Manto, Kabir and Premchand, the works of Mahashweta Devi have also struck me with a strange sharpness and intellectual perceptiveness that moves alongside their human aspects. Even before Rudali or Ganesh mahima, Bayan’s Chandi Daasi had made a place for herself in my memory. For the past many years, the prop-less stage has appealed to me and attracted me for many reasons. I believe that minimalism on the stage might be able to help in the search for a new theatre vocabulary as drawn from the power of the actor’s body language, the internally developed characterization the symbolic imagery on stage, and the sounds of music- and this is what I kept trying for. I am grateful for the writing that gave me a ground filled with social concem as well as with a deep loathing for oppressive and superstitious systems; and I am also filled with much affectionate gratitude for all those fellow theatre artists who have been my companions and fellow travellers in this journey of brining this simple creation to life both on the stage as well as behind it, and from even further beyond that.
Usha Ganguly is a renowned theatre activist who is devoted to theatre and whose works are enriched by her scholarly and literary sense and sensibilities. This has been consistently evident in her presentations through Lok Katha, Mahabhoj Holi Court Martial. Rudali, Kasinama, Mukti Chandalika, Manasiand Hum Mukhtara, amongst many others. She directed a play for a Pakistan theatre group called Ajoka Theatre under their two-year long Theatre for Peace project. She has directed three short plays based on Saadat Hasan Manto’s women characters named Naam Gotrohin (nameless, casteless Manto’s women) for the theatre group Nagorik Natya Shampraday in Dhaka, Bangladesh; and has also scripted for Rituparno Ghosh’s Raincoat, Buddhadeb Dasgupta’s She, Sandip Ray’s Target, Kalpana Lajmi’s Lohit Kinare and Mrinal Sen’s Kabhi Dur Kabhi Pass.
She has received numerous awards and felicitations including Best Production and Best Director Award (1993-’94) by All India Critic Association and Paschim Banga Natya Academy for Rudali, the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award (1998) and several others.
At present, apart from being the Director and President of Rangakarmee, Usha Ganguly is a revered member of SWAN (South Asia Women’s Network) a wing of SAARC. She is also currently the Scholar-in-Residence at the Viswa Bharati University.
Mahasweta Devi (14 January 1926 – 28 July 2016) was an Indian Bengali fiction writer and social activist. Her notable literary works include Hajar Churashir Maa, Rudali, and Aranyer Adhikar. Mahashweta Devi wrote over 100 novels and over 20 collections of short stories. Her first novel, titled Jhansir Rani, is based on a biography of Laxmibai, the queen of Jhansi.
In 1964, she began teaching at Bijoygarh College (an affiliated college: of the University of Calcutta while also working as a journalist and a creative writer. In her elaborate Bengali fiction, she often depicted the brutal oppression of tribal peoples and the untouchables by potent, authoritarian upper-caste landlords, lenders, and venal government officials.
She was honoured with various literary awards such as the Sahitya Akademi Award, Jnanpith Award, Ramon Magsaysay Award along with India’s civilian awards Padma Shri and Padma Vibhushan.
National School of Drama Repertory was formed in 1964-65 on an experimental basis by Shri B. Alkazi. In the beginning it consisted of only four actors and later expanded into a larger group of actors, mustolans and technicians, mainly drawn from graduates of the National School of Drama, Delhi. In 1964 Late Shri Om Shivpuri led the Company and in 1977, Late Shri Manohar Singh became the first regular Chief of Repertory.
Over the years, Repertory has produced a variety of plays ranging from stylized musical to realistic and contemporary adaptation of foreign and Indian plays. In addition, several eminent directors of national and International repute from within the country and abroad have worked with the Company.
The Repertory has performed over 183 plays by 95 playwrights and has worked with 92 directors. The Repertory tours extensively all over the Country and has made several successful trips to Germany, Poland, UK, Nepal, Mauritius, Bangladesh and China.