“A Man for All Seasons”: When Silence Doesn't Mean Consent | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, June 12, 2011 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, June 12, 2011

National Theatre Festival '11

“A Man for All Seasons”: When Silence Doesn't Mean Consent


The motto “a person is defined by his conscience” reflects throughout the play. Photo: Mumit M.

The phrase “silence means agreement” doesn't always hold true. We find a different meaning of it in Robert Bolt's much acclaimed play “A Man for All Seasons”. In the play, Sir Thomas More, a man of principles, is executed for remaining silent. His silence reflects his objection to King Henry VIII's wish to divorce his wife.
More's motto “a person is defined by his conscience” reflects throughout the play, as it touches the ideas of identity and ethics.
Theatre troupe Prachyanat brought the play to the stage a few years ago. Though the play is not staged regularly, it has remained quite popular among Dhaka theatre enthusiasts. This was apparent at the show held at Experimental Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on June 10.
The hall was packed; some even watched the two-hour-long play standing or sitting on the floor.
The show was part of the ongoing National Theatre Festival, organised by Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation.
Translated by Shahed Iqbal into Bangla, the play has been directed by Azad Abul Kalam.
Bolt wrote “A Man for All Seasons” in 1954 for BBC Radio. He later reworked it to suit the stage. The plot is based on the true story of Sir Thomas More, the 16th-century Chancellor of England, who refused to endorse King Henry VIII's wish to divorce his ageing wife Catherine of Aragon. Catherine could not bear Henry a son and the king wanted to marry Anne Boleyn, the sister of his former mistress.
The play portrays More as a man of principles, envied by rivals such as Thomas Cromwell and loved by the common people. His own position is depicted as almost indefensible, while the Pope is described as a corrupt individual, forced by the Emperor Charles V to act according to his will.
Kazi Taufiqul Islam played the common man, a character that also narrates and maintains a link between the audience and the performers. His interactive role introduces the characters to the audience and provides a brief background.
Azad Abul Kalam as Sir Thomas More was unparalleled. Reetu A. Satter played Margaret, the wise daughter of Sir More. Shatabdi Wadud as the antagonist, Thomas Cromwell, and Heera Chowdhury's brief appearance as King Henry VIII were convincing. Md. Shakhwat Hossain played Richard Rich.
Rahul Anand directed the music. The song “Matitey Milay Matir Manush”, from the play, has become popular as it is featured in Prachayant's musical ensemble. Saiful Islam is the set and light designer.
Troupe leader Azad Abul Kalam announced that the show was dedicated to the recently deceased music icon Azam Khan, whom Kalam called “A Man for All Seasons”.

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