New Delhi: Nineteenth century Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen returns to the Delhi stage at the annual University Ibsen Festival Sep 19-23 with five innovative adaptations of his signature plays in the Indian context.
Signature plays like ‘Hedda Gabler’ and ‘The Lady from the Sea’ will be staged by leading colleges at the Kamani Auditorium in central Delhi.
This year, the plays have been conceived around two strands - fusion and Indianisation.
‘The League of Youth’, the entry from Ramjas College, transposes Ibsen`s small-town Norway to a village in Uttar Pradesh where an ambitious young man pushes his political agenda with a new party.
The other participating colleges this year include Lady Shri Ram College, St. Stephen`s College, Maitreyi College and The School of Arts & Aesthetics, Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU).
‘Burn’, a production by Lady Shri Ram College, is a cross-pollination of Ibsen`s ‘Hedda Gabler’ and John Osborne`s ‘Look back in Anger’ built around triangular relationships.
‘On The Contrary’, inspired by Ibsen`s ‘Hedda Gabler’ probes how the perception of women has changed from the 19th to the 21st century. The play to be staged by Maitreyi College is a journey of self-discovery and realisation of complete freedom for a woman.
‘An Enemy of People’, a classic Ibsen play adapted by St. Stephen`s College, raises discourses about wealth, community, social activism and ecology.
The school of arts and aesthetics of the JNU will use the sea as a metaphor to look into the complexities of the characters an adaptation of the ‘The Lady From the Sea’.
The university festival is a precursor to the Delhi Ibsen Festival in November, which invites pan-Indian participation.
The festival will be presented by the Dramatic Art and Design Academy, a non-profit cultural platform devoted to the promotion of theatre and arts.
"In the last four years since 2008, the festival had an interesting fallout. I was in Norway recently and almost everyone I met there had been following the festival," Nissar Allana, director of the Academy, told IANS.
"What we felt about this festival is that we need to consolidate it at the college level to give college theatre a good foundation," Allana said.
The academy supports the college troupes with a subsidy of Rs.75,000, lights, professional platform and publicity.
Delhi University students can relate to Ibsen because his plays are on the syllabus.
"It is what they study in college and it is easy for us to identify, reach out and strengthen their dramatic societies with Ibsen. What we are looking for is sustainability," Allana said.
In the last two years, when the last University Ibsen festival brought intelligent adaptations of his plays on to the Delhi stage, colleges like the Maitreyi have staged 20-30 shows of their ‘O Ibsen’ in the capital and won some awards.
Ibsen (1828-1906), a poet and playwright, brought the conflicts of the then Norwegian society, which was opening to new sensibilities with iconic plays like ‘Dolls`s House’, ‘Peer Gynt’, ‘Wild Duck’ and the ‘Master Builder’.
The playwright strikes several chords in contemporary India with his powerful women and stories of domestic strain.
"We want to generate an audience for theatre - not just university audience, but a discerning audience which will encourage their works independently," Allana said.