Stripped of sets, props and sound, Faisal Rashid's Chaar Kahaniyan brings performance back to focus in the raw, through stories
Faisal Rashid read An Astrologer's Day by RK Narayan in a school textbook. Choti si Cheez by Mohan Rakesh came to him when he was enrolled in a public school in Shimla.
It speaks of a boy trying to fit into an English medium school; it resonated instantly with Rashid. These and two stories by Bhagwati Chand Verma (Khilaavan ka Narak and Praayashchit) have stayed with Rashid since then, and have kept coming back to him.
It's what led him to put together Chaar Kahaniyan, premiered at Motleyana earlier this year. Rashid admits the stories have no common thread except the dramatic possibility. "Short stories are written to be read, never to be performed. If you have to stage them, you have to make the right choice," he says.
Chaar Kahaniyan has no sets, no props, no sound or any other paraphernalia. All it has is four actors, performing a story each. However, despite staying true to the original text, they are essentially four performances, not storytelling sessions. The costumes are simple too; black T-shirts and blue jeans; it's fitting since Rashid's troupe goes by the name Black Shirts.
The process, he explains, was simple and of getting down to the brass tacks in a way. "We read them [stories] as many times and we could, until we knew every character and situation well," he says. The world around each is make-believe, and the actor's prowess is the only thing holding it together.
"The onus lies on you as a performer. You have to know the characters and the milieu well," says Akash Dhar, actor who performs An Astrologer's Day. "It is far more challenging than a play where there is energy being exchanged between actors. But, it is heartening to see you can hold an audience by yourself," he adds.
While the stories themselves were one of the reasons ,Rashid confesses the financial viability of a stripped-down performance and the interesting new venues in Aram Nagar 2 were driving factors too. It's what helps them keep the ticket rates down. "We want a lot of audience, and word of mouth will get us more shows," he says.
At Veda Factory, Bungalow No. 120, opposite Gulshan Co-Op Housing Society, Aram Nagar Part 2, Versova.
On November 28, 8 pm
Call 80804 41000
Price Rs 100
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