Rajkumar Rajak

New Performance

Grant Period: Over six months

This IFA New Performance grant supports Rajkumar Rajak, a theatre director from the village of Bhagwatgarh in Rajasthan, to stage a production of an experimental Hindi novella, Suraj ka Satvaan Ghoda (SKSG) written by the eminent novelist and playwright Dr Dharamvir Bharati.

SKSG is a novella that comprises seven narratives through which the story of love and betrayal in the lower middle class is told. Rajkumar’s challenge will be to present the journeys of the seven characters, which are entwined in the seven non-linear and fragmented narratives, in theatrical form. The performance will aim to tell a single story while exploring the independent perspectives of each character.

The performance script will focus on the characters’ emotional journeys. Rajkumar will develop scenes from the novella for the stage by writing new verses and songs in the local Hindi dialect and using a chorus. Script writing and rehearsals will take place simultaneously. Role-playing and character-building methods, emphasising physical as well as vocal techniques, will be used to envision the characters.

Rajkumar believes that his training with Probir Guha’s Alternative Living Theatre (ALT), which emphasises the full use of the bodies of actors and group choreography, will be of immense help in developing this production. Rajkumar proposes to draw on dance and martial art forms (Ghoomar, Thang Ta, Meenawati and Kalarippayattu) and choreograph dance sequences to explore the creative potential of the actors and define the characters.

The group rehearses at a disused graveyard of the banjara community in Bhagawatgarh. They have sought permission from the community to use the cemented platform (Chabootra) built by them in the memory of their ancestors. The villagers attend rehearsals sometimes and share views on the process. The team plans to stage the final run-through at this place.

The group’s style of presentation dispenses with stage sets, relying instead on human bodies to create space on stage. Using minimum stage materials will enable the group to travel with the production and do many more shows. Rajkumar expects to premier SKSG in May 2010.