• Mon. May 27th, 2024

Assamese Adaptation of 27 Wagons Full of Cotton Staged in Guwahati

 

An Assamese adaptation of American playwright and screenwriter, Tennessee Williams’ 27 Wagons Full of Cotton, was staged at the Surya Club Auditorium in Guwahati Club on April 3 and 4, 2024. Titled 27 Gari Kopah, the play opened to houseful shows on both the days.

Produced by Aikyatan, a socio-cultural organization based in Guwahati, the play was translated by Suresh Kumar and directed by filmmaker Prodyut Kumar Deka. The production featured actor Mridupaban Dutta as Jake Meighan, singer and actress Queen Hazarika as Flora Meighan, and actor Atonu Kashyap as Silva Vicarro in the key roles.

We hear Flora Meighan, first searching for her purse and then we see her searching for her husband. But she is unable to find both. The sudden burst of fire in a cotton mill nearby makes her alert. She’s nervous, anxious and alone. When Jake finally arrives, she charges him of leaving her alone. But Jake says that he never left the house at all. In a few seconds, the discussion between the husband and wife transforms into a scene of argument. Jake tries to convince Flora but Flora knows what she saw and felt. Ultimately, Jake resorts to manipulation and assaults Flora, physically, to make her believe in his version of the truth. Flora, although doubtful, is now forced to obey her husband. As the drama heightens and registers an escalation of tension, the third character Silva Vicarro enters the scene. After a few friendly exchanges with Flora, Silva now has reasons to believe that it might by Jake who had set fire to his cotton mill.

Director Prodyut Kumar Deka maintains his focus on the characters throughout as he leverages the power of conversations to shape up the game of suspense in the play. He utilizes the emotional vulnerability of Flora and the intensity of Jake and the curiousness of Silva to register the dynamics of power and then the shift of it. Here power takes multiple forms – force, deceit and manipulation. Jake in his greed for wealth and power destroys Silva, and Silva avenges it by misusing his relationship with Flora. In between, it is Flora who is stuck in position of submission and exploitation from both sides.

Queen Hazarika shone as Flora Meighan, Jakes delicate young wife, as she brings in depth and the emotional aspects of the character alive. Based entirely on the conversations between the three characters, the play explores themes of power, greed, domination and exploitation. Mridupaban Dutta plays the character of Jake Meighan who appears to be of doubtful discretion. He strikes a balance between being a loving and menacing husband, providing us with the image of a man who does not like to take any rejection or challenge against his words. Atonu Kashyap as Silva further increases the suspense by introducing questionable motivations at every turn of his dialogues.

The play was performed in the memory of actors and Aikyatan’s close collaborators, late Jayanta Das and Mrinal Das. The settings of the play and makeup were done by Namrata Dutta and Babi Chakrabarty respectively. The lighting was done by Pona Kalita and the background music was given by Dhanjit Boro.

 

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