New Delhi, Nov 19 The capital's culture enthusiasts can look forward to a delightful interplay of Eastern and Western traditions when Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen's plays are interpreted by Indian folk artists.
Many delights await the Delhi Ibsen Festival to be held from November 30 to December 6 at Kamani Auditorium. It will showcase six plays of the master of 19th century modernist drama, including three performed by overseas artists.
The previous two editions of the festival focused on Ibsen's influence on younger directors and his inter-cultural impact. "This year, we wanted to bring Ibsen into the matrix of the Indian folk performing traditions," festival director Nissar Allana said.
The highlight of the festival will be an ethnic interpretation of his play "Lady From The Sea". Titled "Mareechka", it will be performed by Ila Arun in the 'Pabuji ka phad' tradition of Rajasthan.
"The play, to be rendered in the local 'phad' dialect, will be sung by Arun as poetry from a painted scroll, accompanied by a sea of dancing women in blue to represent the ocean, the pivot of the original play by Ibsen," said Allana.
The tradition of 'Pabuji ka phad' dates back to the 14th century when the martial exploits of a Rajput Rathod hero from the Bhopa community, Pabuji, were sung as ballads by local villagers from painted scrolls, combining poetic text and art, Allana said.
"There will also be 'Balura Gudikara', a Kannada adaptation of Ibsen's play 'Master Builder', by B. Jayashree. She is the granddaughter of Gubbi Veeranna, one of the early pioneers of Kannada repertory (company) theatre. The play will use the energetic Veera Ghasse folk format and company style theatre," Allana said.
In the Veera Ghasse folk tradition, 'veerbhadras', or followers of Lord Shiva, perform a dance with swords. It is based on a legend, which says when demon Daksha humiliated Lord Shiva, veerbhadras appeared on earth and killed him.
A Malayalam rendition of Ibsen's "Peer Gynt", directed by Deepan Sivaraman, will place the play in a mental asylum, with god as the gatekeeper. In the play, Peer asks god to give him a second chance to live his life, to which god agrees.
The festival will begin with "Mountain Bird", one of Ibsen's least-staged plays.
Part of "Mountain Bird" was written in 1859 as a libretto - an operatic score. The Oslo-based Grusomhetens Theatre (The Theatre of Cruelty), an underground theatre ensemble led by Lars Oyno, which will stage the play, Allana said.
"It narrates the story of a girl who survives a plague epidemic and lives in isolation. But she forgets to speak and develops a bird-like quality of relying on her instincts," Allana said.
"The play has a meditative and ritualistic tone," she added.
The festival will also see a televised rendition of "Doll House" by a group called Mabou Mines. The play is an adaptation of Ibsen's "A Doll's House", and is directed by American director Lee Breuer.
It will feature dwarfs playing the lead characters, a comment on women's empowerment. It shows a tall wife and her midget husband and children - a statement on the new balance of power in the battle of the sexes.
Ibsen (1828-1906) is known for seminal plays like "A Dolls' House", "Ghosts", "Peer Gynt" and "The Enemy of the People", among others, and is one of the towering figures of European modernism.
Ibsen is one of the few European playwrights who influenced Indian theatre in the 1930s and 1940s by bringing the concept of realism, Allana said. "The style that developed was a hybrid of Asian and Western styles," she said.
The influence of Ibsen was felt in cinema as well, with screen trans-creations of the "Little Eyolf" and "The Enemy of the People".