A Festival of Plays by Naseeruddin Shah's Motley at Prithvi...

MTG editorial

One of the premiere theatre groups in India, Motley needs no introduction to theatre aficinadoes. Its nine-day festival at Prithvi will feature most of the company’s plays that have been produced in the last few years. These include its series of plays based on Sadat Hasan Manto and Ismat Chugtai’s stories and its recent production of ANTIGONE. The group will be completing thirty years in theatre. It was founded on 29th July 1979 by Naseerudin Shah and Benjamin Gilani and is still known for its flagship production of Beckett’s WAITING FOR GODOT. Naseeruddin Shah says: “When Motley began, we didn’t think beyond that first production. In a quick fade-out, thirty years and almost that many productions have gone by.”

Following is the schedule of the festival:

15th & 16th May

DEAR LIAR (Four Shows).

6 & 9:00 pm on both days.

A comedy of letters adapted from the correspondence between George Bernard Shaw and Mrs. Patrick Campbell. It recreats their intriguing relationship in all its aspects over the years. Written by Jerome Kilty, Directed by Satyadev Dubey. Improvised and Enacted by Naseeruddin Shah and Ratna Pathak-Shah.

17th May


6 & 9:00 pm.

This production, the second in Motley's intended series of presentations on stage of Hindustani short stories, centres around the word 'obscene'. Two short stories (BOO by Manto, and LIHAAF by Ismat Chughtai) which were at that time tried for obscenity and roundly condemned by self-righteous custodians of morality, will be presented along with Ismat Apa's account of the trial and another celebrated (but not obscene at all) Manto story "The Dog of Titwal". Performed by Heeba Shah, Jamil Khan, Rakesh Chaturvedi, Ankur Vikal. Directed by Naseeruddin Shah.

18th & 19th May


6 & 9:00 pm on both days.

Information about Motley's production, 'Ismat Apa Ke Naam'. Three stories in Urdu by the famed and much loved, not to say controversial writer, Ismat Chughtai (1915-1999) are being staged by Motley. We prefer to call this production, a 'story telling session' rather than an 'enactment'. The artist are Naseeruddin Shah, his wife Ratna Pathak Shah and daughter Heeba Shah. Each will be onstage individually and each will do one story. The music for production is being composed by Vishal Bhadwaj. This is Motley's first production in any Indian language, and thus it is a landmark production for us. The stories are set in middle class Muslim homes in small town U.P., a milieu which both Ismat Chughtai and the Director of this production (N.Shah) are closely connected with and to which both belong. The art direction and set design by Salim Aarif have been executed by Bhola Sharma, respectively, both also hailing from UP. A simplicity of approach is the defining factor in this production; a minimal set and a simple manner of telling a story. The purpose is to not get in the way of the writing and to let the words of the writer emerge in all their truth and beauty. Thus we hope to communicate the stories to the audience and hopefully give them the experience of having seen, heard and read the stories, simultaneously. The duration of the production is one hour and forty minutes, with an interval.

20th May

KATHA COLLAGE 2 (Two Shows).

6:00 & 9:00 pm.

7 satarical tales written by Shri Harishankar Parsai. Designed by Naseeruddin Shah.

TELEPHONE : Telephone is a satire on this omnipresent and indispensible telephone and its etiquette.

BECHARA BHALA AADMI : Bechara Bhala Aadmi is about inherent urge to exploit sincere people by praising them.

PRIVATE COLLEGE KA GHOSHNA PATRA: It is a manifesto for an education system where "The Blind" are leading the Blind.

SNAAN: Snaan is about the demerits of bathing.


VO ZARA WIFE HAI NA: Vo Zara Wife Hai Na is about wives.

PREM PRASANG MEIN FATHER: Prem Prasang Mein Father is about the ever looming presence of fathers in tales of love since time immemorial.

SAMAY PE MILNE WAALE : It is about the merits of never being on time.

21st & 22nd May

ANTIGONE (Four Shows).

6 & 9:00 pm on both days.

Written by :
Jean Anouilh.
Adapted & Directed by :
Satyadev Dubey.
Cast :
Benjamin Gilani, Akash Khurana, Ratna Pathak Shah, Naseeruddin Shah
Nivedita Bhattacharya, Divya Jagdale, Heeba Shah, Trishla Patel.

Jean Anouilh's Antigone is an adaptation of Sophocles' tragic play of the same title. Written in 1942, when Nazi forces occupied France , the story revolves around the conflict between the idealist Antigone and her rigid uncle, Creon, the King. The play was also interpreted to represent the struggle of the French Resistance movement against the forces of the Vichy government during the height of Nazi occupation. A picture of a totalitarian state and the struggle between the individual and the establishment, it tells the story of Oedipus's daughter Antigone, who after her father's death and subsequent civil war between her two brothers defies her uncle, Creon, the King who has issued an edict that Polynices, one of her dead brothers, is to be left to rot and 'any person who attempts to give himself be put to death'. Antigone attempts to bury Polynices and is arrested. In style of true Greek tragedy, this action results in series of discussions and deaths, as the characters try to deal with life, death, happiness, love, honor & duty. Antigone is one in a series of Anouilh's plays based on Greek mythology. Disillusioned and shocked by the events of World War II, he also wrote Eurydice (1942) and Médée (first performed in 1937; published 1946), which were also adapted versions of the original Greek classics. These plays explored the role of destiny in people's lives. Often considered his masterpiece, Antigone cemented Anouilh's reputation as a dramatist.

23rd May

KOTHRI NO. 42. (Two shows).

6:00 & 9:00 pm.

"Kothri No.42" is a Hindi adaptation of Athol Fugard's "The Island" which, originally set in South Africa's notorious Robben Island prison is considered one of the most significant plays of the twentieth century.

It tells the story of two prisoners, Safdar and Arjun shackled together for much of the time, caught in the drudgery of futile labour all day under an inhuman authority which is generous with whiplashes. At night they begain to recover from their work squabbling, fighting, laughing like any couple. The play examines the bonds and tensions between them-they who having been Naxalities, fighting for a cause, are now doomed to rot in their cells in the most dehumanizing conditions. The authorities terrorize them but cannot control their thoughts is the jail mates find new innovative ways to remain sane.

In the play we find them after a hard day's work rehearsing for a prison concert. They enact scenes from Sophocles, Antigone as a loaded tribute to "a fellow seeker of justice who deliberately defies an unjust law" as a theatrical gesture of defiance. 'Antigone' represents fro them the continuing struggle against an oppressive system, under the garb of democracy.

Cast & Credits:

Arjun: Arvind Panday.
Safdar: Vishwajeet Pradhan.
Voice: Raj Shekhar Kapoor.

Design & Direction: Arunaraje.
Adaptation: Arvind Panday, Vishwajeet Pradhan & Arunaraje.

Set Design: Arunaraje & Rahul Vichare.
Set Execution: Rang Munch Setting Service.

Light Design: Michel.
Props: Alka Aashlesha.

*The above information is courtesy Motley and Kajal Ads. Mumbai Theatre Guide takes no responsibility regarding change in schedule.

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