Arts and Entertainment

At the Nepal International Theatre Festival, two plays show that language is no barrier to understanding theatre

- Anish Regmi, Kathmandu

Feb 28, 2019-

The modest stage design sets the perfect backdrop for the deep, dark secrets of a mother to unravel slowly. Anna pours her heart out in her notebook, detailing everything including her extramarital affair, all of which come to life in the play Private Confessions, as her daughter goes through its pages long after death.

Private Confessions, directed by Nina Nikolikj, was staged at Shilpee Theatre in Battisputali on Tuesday, the second day of the ongoing Nepal International Theatre Festival. Performed by the Macedonian Theatre Group, the play was staged in Macedonian but with English subtitles. The Macedonian Theatre Group is the biggest and largest theatre troupe in the Republic of Macedonia. Since its inception, the theatre group has staged about 300 premieres and more than 8,000 performances. 

Private Confessions delves deep into its characters’ lives and how Anna’s affair changes her relationship with her husband Henrik. She cheats on Henrik during one of her trips out of town with the much younger Thomas. But when she returns, Anna begins to get tormented by guilt and confesses her adultery to her uncle Jacob, who is a priest. Jacob suggests that Anna come clean to her husband. However, her confession leads to mistrust, pain and suffering in their lives. 

The play, written by famed Swedish filmmaker Ingmar Bergman, is 67-minutes long and finely executed in terms of its actors’ performances, the plot of the play and its set design. The daughter’s character almost breaks the fourth wall as she is seen reading from her mother’s diary, steering the plot and maintaining the flow.

However, the subtitles in English, projected on an adjacent screen, are a distraction and prevent the audience from fully immersing themselves into the intensity of the ongoing performance. It might’ve been better if the audience was left to interpret the play through the actors’ performances alone, which was the case during the staging of the Bengali play, Champabati, on the third day of the festival.

Like Private Confessions, Champabati is also the story of a woman. The play depicts life among India’s community of snake-charmers, who go from place-to-place dancing and performing. A powerful village elite asks Champabati’s husband to sell her to him, but she surrenders herself, knowing that her husband would be murdered if he refused. Throughout the play, she manages to resist the carnal desires of her kidnapper, though he tries to lure Champabati with love and ornamental offerings. She escapes the custody of the man with the help of his wife, who is also oppressed and mistreated.

Directed by Biplab Dey, the 90-minute play depicts the state of women in a male-dominated social structure and how cruel such a patriarchal society can be. Written by Bangladeshi poet and playwright Syed Shamsul Haq, Champabati was performed by Ritwik Theatre from India. Haq is regarded as one of the foremost contemporary Bangla writers, whose literary works comprise poetry, fiction and plays.

The actors’ brilliant performances managed to easily overcome the language barrier with the Nepali audience. The choreography, stage design, dialogue delivery and live music all helped the audience understand the plot and follow along, despite the entire play being in Bengali. The songs performed in the Bengali language also beautifully played with the emotions within the narrative and managed to strike a chord with the audience.

Post Photo: Anish Regmi

These two plays are part of the week-long Nepal International Theatre Festival, where 30 plays from national and international theatre groups are being staged across Kathmandu, till March 4. The Festival is jointly organised by seven theatre groups in Nepal—Mandala Theatre Nepal, Shilpee Theatre, Actors’ Studio, Theatre Village, Theatre Mall, Katha Ghera and One World Theatre. Visit for more details.



Published: 01-03-2019 07:00

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