The Theatre of Conscience
Collection of plays by Manoj Mitra
Translated by Mousumi Roy Chowdhury
Introduced by Mousumi Roy Chowdhury
5.5 x 8.5 inches, 294pp. 2007
ISBN : 9788170463238
Rs 375.00 (PB)
‘More in the realm of ethics than of politics, these plays belong to what I call the “theatre of conscience”. Not strictly restricted to an instrumental moral sense, conscience here is used in the larger sense of consciousness that reaches beyond the closures and binaries of the regulating norms of the political theatre. Conscience here includes the violence of consciousness and the search for a form in which its meaning can arrive.’—Mousumi Roy Chowdhury
The Palace of Shadows (Chhayar Prashad; set in the decadence of the Mauryan Empire during the times of Bindusar and the scripture-toting brahmans) and The Tale of Hekim-shaheb (Galpo Hekimshaheb; set in nineteenth-century Bengal against the backdrop of the Permanent Settlement Act and the revenue-extracting British and exploitative zamindars, talukdars and chepattanidars), cast in the genre of the historical play, are addressed from within the crisis of our times—the rise of religious fundamentalism, corruption and misrule. Honey From a Broken Hive (Chak Bhanga Modhu; written during the crisis-ridden period of the Naxal movement in Bengal) addresses a crisis of another kind—of representation. Chance news of a man dying of snakebite at the ojha’s house in a village in the Sunderbans triggered off the writing of this play in which Manoj Mitra shows violence within a community of extreme poverty as erupting from forces that cannot be contained within an ideology or a rationalized will to act. This volume also contains a detailed introduction by the translator and an indepth interview with the playwright.
Playwright-director-actor Manoj Mitra has written about 70 plays and filmscripts and is famous for his lead roles in films by Satyajit Ray, Tapan Sinha, Basu Chatterjee and others. He has been Sisir Kumar Bhaduri Professor of Drama at Rabindra Bharati University, Calcutta. He was awarded the Filmfare Award for Best Actor in 1980 for Banchharamer Bagan (written by him and directed by Tapan Sinha), the Sangeet Natak Award (1985) and the Asiatic Society Award (2005) for his overall contribution to theatre, Manoj Mitra heads the theatre group Sundaram and lives and works in Calcutta.
Mousumi Roy Chowdhury, the translator, is Assistant Professor of Cultural Studies at the Institute of Ethiopian Studies, Addis Ababa University.
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