Samarth Black Box Theatre Festival 2022 presents 17 plays by theatre groups from across the country

This city-based theatre group has moved from the main stage to present innovative plays, both original works and adaptations

author_img Anjani Chadha Published :  05th April 2022 01:55 PM   |   Published :   |  05th April 2022 01:55 PM
Samarth Black Box Theatre Festival

Samarth Black Box Theatre Festival 2022

It would be an understatement to say that the pandemic was a tough time for the theatre community. For two years, artists were unable to experience the ultimate bliss of their lives—performing on stage. However, as we begin to feel a sense of normalcy, city-based theatre groups are leaving no stone unturned to let theatre flourish. In a similar attempt, Samarth Theatre Group, a Mayur Vihar-based theatre company, is currently hosting ‘Samarth Black Box Theatre Festival 2022’. The Festival—it started on February 26 and will conclude on April 18—has a calendar packed with 17 plays by theatre groups from across the country.

A class act in experimentation
Samarth Theatre Group has adopted the black box theatre format for this Festival. Originating in the USA, black box theatre is when the performance space is small, with walls, floor, and ceiling painted or covered in black. The enclosed space enables an intimate connection between the audience and the performers. “Due to COVID-19, theatre spaces such as the ones in Mandi House were completely closed. So, we decided we must explore this medium. The aim of black box is to take theatre from bigger stages to local spaces. Since other theatre groups were facing similar problems, we thought why not convert this into a festival,” shared Sandeep Rawat, co-founder, Samarth Theatre Group. By adopting a format restricted to a maximum of 20 people, Rawat added that the attempt is to build alternative, non-commercial theatre spaces in the city’s neighbourhoods.

Can’t Pay, Won’t Pay’

Delving into varied themes
Mayur Vihar-based group of theatre practitioners, Apna Theatre staged their play Before the Law on Sunday, which was also the twelfth day of the two-month-long Festival. Based on Franz Kafka’s eponymous novel, the play’s script is an effective critique of our legal system—it explores the story of a poor farmer who waits 75 years to seek justice. “Main nyay lene aaya hun (I am here to seek justice)”, he keeps reiterating throughout the 55-minute play. However, the character dies long before receiving justice, thus showcasing a satirical reflection on our legal system. “The play was written in 1915 but the problems are still the same and the solution is nowhere in sight. We did not need to change the play much because whatever Kafka writes is today’s reality,” shared Rajeev Ranjan Jha, co-founder, Apna Theatre, who is also the director of this play.

The performance we witnessed on Sunday was a decent attempt at recreating Kafka’s iconic literary work in an Indian context on stage. The unhurried and measured pace of the play complemented the narrative but failed to communicate the strong message—one that the story seeks to deliver—with desired conviction. The black box setting helped the performers communicate the depth of every emotion to the audience. The play was embellished with fine performances by three actors. It was unfortunate that the weak links in overall execution hindered the play from creating a lasting impression. However, the absurd, innate humour of the story kept the audience entertained.  

Safdarjung Enclave-resident Mohini Shidhaye (29), who attended the Festival on Sunday, concluded, “I have attended theatre after three years so it feels great to be back. This is the first time I have come to a black box theatre so it was different for me. I had a great time.”

WHAT: Samarth Black Box Theatre Festival 2022 
WHEN: Till April 18
WHERE: Samarth Theatre Studio, Mayur Vihar, Phase-1

WHAT: ‘Kanyadaan’ by Amul Sagar Nath
WHEN: April 9; 6:00pm
WHAT: ‘Jayaz Hatyare’ by Abhishek Mudgal
WHEN: April 16; 6:00pm