Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The new voice of our time

A couple of weeks back our local cultural association Sanskriti organized its fourth Natyomela - a Theater festival. Our group ENAD could not participate in the festival this time. However, this year Sanskriti introduced a slot for an "outside" group. That outside group was ECTA from New Jersey. They brought a new play Taconic Parkway, written and directed by Sudipta Bhowmik.

Sudipta Bhowmik was somewhat known to the bay-area theater aficionados. He is operating in Bengali theater scene in north America for a while now. He is quite well-known especially in the east-coast circuit. For some reason, he never got a chance to bring his play to the west coast before. We, at EAND, were happy to do Ron - our last production - which was his play. I think that was the first exposure people got to Sudipta Bhowmik's work here in the bay area.

This time he also directed his three-cast play Taconic Parkway. It's a very powerful play. It may not put you in an internal conflict that Ron might have, but this play may well put you in a spell. He has masterfully woven an unusual story in a non-histrionic way. (That is, if you take the negative connotation of histrionics.) I will go out on limbs and say that Sudipta Bhowmik is producing some of the most powerful and important Bengali plays of our time. That includes Kolkata and West Bengal. (I am not very conversant with Dhaka's, or Bangladesh as a whole, contemporary plays, mostly due to accessibility problem.) More importantly, he is providing a glimpse to the actual USA-residing Bengalees. This is not the picture you get in mainstream magazines and mundane media portrayal.

Someday, I hope to write a more studied observation of his plays through more minute reading, but as a somewhat informed audience I can only appreciate his work. He is definitely blessed with some very competent actors. I am sure that helps him not only to mount a good play as a director, but also as a playwright since he can experiment with his characters. But still, the bottom line remains that he is writing some worthwhile plays of our time.

Thank you Sudiptada. Thank you for the plays.