A play unlike any other, A Little Calm before the Storm is a unique conversational play that happens between three actors who also portray actors in the play who are about to head to a panel discussion. Unlike other plays that have a start, middle and conclusion, this play is quite unique as it does not use a lot props, sets, costumes and production. The director of the play Vandana Prabhu explains the concept, “This play is about actors who have come together to talk about the fact that they have portrayed Hitler. They speak of what it takes for an actor to play an evil character, in particular Hitler”. In the absurd genre of theatre, there is no clear narrative but gives it a glimpse of life. The playwright took inspiration from the controversy that erupted due to the German movie Downfall. She adds, “For the first time in this movie, a German actor portrays Hitler in a humane way. And questions arose — Is that fair? Does it change perceptions? Etc. There was also another actor who portrayed Hitler in a non-humane way which caused a huge debate,” she adds. A thought-provoking play, with light humour, surprisingly, it does not focus on Fuhrer. “This play asks questions. What do actors do when they play such strong characters, does that shape the audience’s view of the person?”
With no clear storyline or plot, it is more of a conversation that has sub-conversations and views of life out of theatre, egos, cultures, opinion etc. “Although there is no message, the play is a take and reflection on life, from different walks and also on human behaviour,” says Vandana.
Roy Sinai, a photographer and an amateur theatre artiste plays the role of Franz Prachtel, a famous middle-aged star actor. Roy explains, “My character is very shy but is able to shut people up with a word. The script was challenging as some of it is absurd and funny, to get straight at the humour. And it has to be right. Franz has very long monologues and an old fashioned view. He believes stories are text driven”. Kinjal Majumdhar’s character Ullilerch is the youngest of three, and represents the new age, developing art forms, new media, bold statements. Kinjal who has been a part of the city’s theatre scene since 2013 says, “Ullilerch is a person who looks up to the other two characters as stars. He brings a different mindset and viewpoint. The play is language intensive, and unlike a lot of theatre I have done. There are so many nuances and layers that we as actors have to bring out.” Essayed by Kanchan, Peter Sost is a well known stage and film actor who acts as Hitler. Sost feels that Franz has always over-shadowed his character. His version of Hitler is better than that of Franz’s. Kanchan adds, “This play is challenging as you have very little to play around with, and find comedy in between the lines and also nailing language. While researching, I found out that Hitler is considered evil in European countries where as in India, people call anyone disciplined and strict as Hitlet.” Vandana speaks of the play’s reception, “People in theatre and others have enjoyed and appreciated the play. They have appreciated the fact that this play hangs entirely on the script and performance.” The play will be performed in Kerala first and then in Bengaluru, with performances in Chennai and Hyderabad later.
— The play will be staged in the city on March 30 at Jagriti Theatre.