Celebrating the half a century old and continuing tradition of holding annual drama festivals by J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages (JKAACL) in order to give platform to State’s amateur talent in the field of theatre, the Jammu Annual Theatre Festival 2018, opened with fanfare, at Abhinav Theatre, here today.
Inaugurated by Excise Commissioner J&K, Talat Parvez, the festival opened with Samooh Theatre’s presentation of ‘Dozakh’, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello. Written, adapted and directed by Ravinder Sharma.
In the adapted version the plot revolved around Ayub/ Othello, a highly esteemed warrior/general. Kumar/ Iago, Othello’s ambitious and jealous friend, begins an evil and malicious campaign against the hero.
Ayub marries Ilitza/ Desdemona. Kumar succeeds in poisoning the mind of Ayub. Plots and murders ensue and Ayub returns to the castle to kill his innocent wife. When her innocence is revealed, Ayub kills himself.
The play in Hindustani came out as a kind of pastiche wherein writer/director’s effort to adapt the Shakespearean tragedy by alluding to the present day political turmoil in the Valley, a medley of Muslim and Hindu names of characters, et al did not succeed in its intended import.
The production design bearing the characteristic stamp of Samooh Theatre-one of the few groups to regularly stage Shakespeare’s plays in Jammu-was marked by minimal sets, colorful costumes and affected light design like the red central spot on Kumar’s histrionics helped in creating an effect.
Barring few exceptions like actors entering and exiting from the front of the stage, the grouping in most of the scenes were static. The music, especially the first song, did succeed in conveying the declaration of love for Ayub by Ilitza.
The Kashmir play Gadd Bateh will be staged by Vomed Rangmanch will be staged next.