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Intimate theatre

Natya Chetana's play `Dhuan' was an example of its `intimate theatre' style.

In true Natya Chetana tradition, the latest product from its stables Dhuan, had 14 shows all over Orissa before it was presented to the discerning audience of Bhubaneswar recently.

A one-hour-20-minute play, Dhuan (Smoke) is a production that has been fashioned out of facts and information garnered from seven villages of the tribal dominated Koraput where the Natya Chetana troupe was touring and conducting theatre workshops.

The format of Dhuan is in the by-now-familiar pattern of intimate theatre that Natya Chetana intends to popularise as Indian theatre tradition free from western influence. So there was no use of colourful lighting, no elaborate stage settings and no use of anything but native musical instruments.

The accent was on the actors' body language with the body being made flexible enough to serve as props. A lot of imagination went into this - sometimes a few actors combined to make a vehicle while at other times, an actor became a "wheel". Draped in saris and swaying their bodies, girls emulated a flowing river. Indeed one does not feel the absence of stage props at all. Add to that the gripping, clipped dialogues and music at vital points, and the story is told without any monotony creeping into the presentation.

The theme of Dhuan, using smoke in a symbolic sense, packs a social message as usual. The exploitation of the poor, the tribal and the good men and women at the hands of a handful of miscreants is possible because they are taken in by the words and actions that are nothing but phoney, in other words, plain smoke.

With theatre facing a crisis all over the country and many groups folding up due to rising costs of production, Natya Chetana's intimate theatre is attempting to show the way out of the crisis while making the theatre resonate with a social relevance too.

BIBHUTI MISHRA

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