Metamorphosis, staged at the Studio Theatre of the Department of Performing Arts, Pondicherry University, is a nerve-wracking non-verbal performance that banks on its actors and audience connect.
Metamorphosis, the play staged at the Studio Theatre of the Department of Performing Arts, Pondicherry University, was a brainstorming performance session that brought alive the socio-psychological themes of existential crisis, absurdity, guilt, loneliness and anxieties in today’s post-modern society.
Directed by Pappu Ratnakar Ali, a final year Master’s student of the Department of Performing Arts, the play is based on Franz Kafka’s iconic eponymous story, Tagore’s story The Postmaster, Badal Sircar’s Third Theatre and John Berger’s essays on post-modernism. “This is not a conventional play, but an immersive performance in which both the actors and the audience become live performers. There will be no stage, no barriers. So, be prepared,” said the director.
The performance kickstarted in a darkened hall with statuettes of eight figures (four couples) in stillness. In a sudden outburst of emotions, each one got startled. The air was full of “Pity for our mistakes,” “Our future is dark,” “I want to live. Have pity on us,” followed by a plethora of non-verbal actions. The hall became an emotionally-surcharged arena.
In this post-modern era, people are victims of gadgets and machines. We are wracked by the fear of war and growing uncertainty. Gadgets have made people emotionally hollow, and made them live in abject alienation and isolation.
Humans have forged their own vicious chains of doom and destruction, and the future seems dark, and full of sadness and guilt.
Fusing elements of realism
The performers demonstrated these collective anxieties. The performance also fused elements of realism. It also featured isolated protagonists facing bizarre or surrealistic predicaments, incomprehensible socio-bureaucratic powers and Machiavellian power politics, resulting in a world of total chaos.
Performed by Midhun Krishna, Chanchui Khayi, Adheena, Mohammad Nihaal, Sreeparvathy, Saumya Yadav, Rishi Kumar, Kriti Joshi and Pappu Ratnakar, Metamorphosis was reminiscent of the cinematic images of Abbas Kiarostami, Andrei Tarkovsky and Ritwik Ghatak.
“These cinema legends are a major influence on my theater,” informs Pappu.
The background scores by Samima Akhtar Zaman and the director, and lights by Shubham Tiwari were innovative. The highlights of the overall performance were the gripping actors’ movement and the brilliant theatrical content.
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