“Gondar”: Resistance to conformity
On the fifth day of the ongoing International French Drama Festival, theatre troupe Prachyanat staged its production “Gondar”. An adaptation of Eugene Ionesco's “The Rhinoceros,” “Gondar” has been directed by Kazi Toufiqul Islam Emon. Zahurul Haque has translated the play into Bangla.
“Rhinoceros” narrates the curious story of the residents of a small French city. All the people of the city are gradually transformed into rhinos, after an imaginary epidemic breaks out. Prachyanat's production kept the story intact.
While everyone is transformed into rhinos, one individual does not succumb to this mass metamorphosis, and he is the central character of the play. Bérenger, the protagonist, is a perplexed average Joe who is often criticised by his friends for his drinking habits and indolence.
As the mass transformation ensues, Bérenger along with his colleague Daisy (with whom he is hopelessly in love with) try to resist. They agree to get married to restore the human race.
Soon afterwards, however, Daisy changes her mind and becomes a rhino. She refuses to save the human race and follows the rhinos, suddenly finding them beautiful, as she admires their enthusiasm and energy.
After much hesitation, Bérenger decides not to give in: “I'm the last man, I will stay till the end! I'm not giving up!” He sobbingly declares.
The play, which belongs to the genre, 'Theatre of the Absurd,' is a metaphor for totalitarianism, which was on the rise in Europe prior to World War II. It deals with the themes of conformity and resistance. The play is often read as a response to the sudden upsurge of Communism, Fascism and Nazism prior to World War II.
Shatabdi Wadud played the role of Bérenger. Ritu-e-Sattar enacted the role of Daisy. Hira Chowdhury, Sanjeeda Priti and Saiful Islam Jarnel performed other central roles.
The weeklong festival ends today with the staging of the Helene Cixous' play “Drums on the Dam.” One of the organisers, Fame School of Drama (Chittagong), will stage the play. Alliance Francaise de Dhaka, Natukey and Fame School of Drama have jointly arranged the festival.
The weeklong festival features seven plays by world-renowned French playwrights. A felicitation programme will be held today where the organisers will honour theatre personalities Ramendu Majumdar and Ataur Rahman, playwright and poet Syed Shamsul Haq and litterateur Shawkat Osman (posthumous).