Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Best of Kolkata Campus presented Necropolis: rehearsing Koltes in such times... at Earthcare Books in Middleton Street, Calcutta, on the evening of Saturday 5 July. The performance was dedicated to the 60th birth celebrations of Bernard-Marie Koltes.

Two men meet on the street. They have to make a deal. Or rather they want to make a deal. One has something to sell and the other needs something to buy. The dealer is unsure what to peddle or would he want to peddle anything in the first place. The client knows what he has to buy but does not know exactly what to buy. A cat and mouse game begins between these nameless, faceless, shapeshifters who have to make a transaction about which they are not sure why they do it. For the next chunk of minutes they indulge in selling and buying of concepts without transacting anything.

What are they selling? Or rather who is buying? ... Are technology, displacement, memories, genocide ... the road-map of the universe... becoming so routine that we have lost the power to engage with them, and provide a soothing balm to the displaced, destitute, fried, barbecued, roasted, killed human-folk?

More often than not we are groping for words to describe routine violence. Routine cases of racial profiling. Of exclusion. Grappling with stereotypes. Cliches. Biases on the basis of human rights. On ethical treatment of animals who become globalised pharma companies' experimental guinea pigs. Biases on the basis of sexual orientation. We are looking at images and we think either they supplement the words or complement them. Is image only a memory tool? Is it just a visual metaphor? Is it just to learn things by heart? By rote?

What is a perfomance? Merely a text or an improvisation or a series of theatre exercises which are prescribed as typical workshop methods? The performance probes into the image-word relationship ... it gets into into the rationale of images...

What images are we looking at? Nellie, Morichjhaanpi, Malom, Mokokchung, Nandigram...

What was the process of transforming the "us" into "them"?... How are "they" celebrating diversity and "their" culturalness in these times? The performance negotiates these terrains.

By the time the performance ends, nobody has bought... nobody has sold... yet those two individuals have transformed themselves enough to be probably up for sale if the next set of clients gatecrash into the narrative.

The play explores the idiom of solo performance with city-specific collaborators who intrude, alter and tamper the nature of the performance... yet there is an unified thread that runs through these structured improvisations.

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