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Festival Director's Note
The Delhi Ibsen Festival 2010 is unique in every way, because it encompasses an aspect of Ibsen's work and theme, rarely discussed; Ritual, Tradition & Folklore. In the Indian context, this is especially important, because it helps us to define our own point of contact with Ibsen. We have to see him, not as a stranger in our midst, but bring him into our environment and into our minds, in a manner that he becomes familiar and endearing. Only then can we make the most of his work, in its contribution to Indian theatre.
Scholars like the Director of the Ibsen Museum, Dr. Erik Edvardsen, Dr. Olav Solberg, and Dr. Nina Alnaes among others, have written about the folkloristic influence in Ibsen's work, and this has remained more or less in the realm of academic research and studies. It was, however Dr. Edvardsen who first introduced me to the production of The Mountain Bird by Lars Øyno, that inspired me to think more concretely about focusing practically on this aspect of Ibsen work in the Delhi Ibsen Festival, because this production was like an intense ritual. I saw the relevance of such an approach to Ibsen almost immediately, and began looking into such possibilities in the Indian context, with its rich cultural heritage, replete with folklore, ritual and a traditionally based performance language.
I had always been greatly impressed by Ila Arun's earthy and raw style of singing, and even in her personality, there was a resounding sense of the folk, coupled with a theatricality that is not often seen in singer-performers. It was going to be very interesting to make a popular star performer of Bollywood, cross over into the realm of Ibsen's scholarly world, but through the power and richness of tradition, I felt it was possible to accomplish almost anything. The “Bapuji ka Phad”, was, I felt, an ideal genre of performance, which could take Ibsen, to the heart of this very rich traditional performance idiom of Rajasthan. The idea instantly appealed to Ila, who responded very instinctively when we spoke about such a possibility.

The future exploration with Ibsen in the Indian theatre-scape provides many new areas of engagement, which do not require to be theoretical contentions, because in practice, the Ibsen provides substantial material, in many different areas,; viz. new ideas, creative dramatic practice, interdisciplinary research, etc. Indeed, “Ibsen ji”, as Ila Arun likes to call him, is fast becoming a dear companion, championing new causes.

Nissar Allana
Director, The Dramatic Art & Design Academy

Frihet : Kamala Nehru College:
“A woman cannot be herself in the society of the present day, which is an exclusively masculine society, with laws framed by men and a judicial system that judges feminine conduct from a masculine point of view” These remarks made by Ibsen were among the earliest comments on the difficulties women face in a patriarchal society. The play deals with love in a marriage. It is divided into three parts and aims at exploring the journey of women in Ibsen's literature. From the introduction of the character to the relationship this character has with the men in her life, the play unravels the lives of five women with strong identifying traits in parallel and intricately inter-woven sequences. In O Ibsen, Ibsen himself is a character, coming face to face with questions raised by his own characters. He strives, he suffers, and in the end leaves the questions for the audience. Few images and researched facts are showcased through multimedia projections.
Direction – Nupur Saha, Mishika Singh
  The Tame Duck : Kirori Mal College
Henrik Ibsen has for long been regarded as the dramatist who held the keys to the closets where we keep our skeletons locked up. As the Ibsenian figure of radical modernity, Nora of A Doll's House has so dominated responses to his work that we sometimes forget there are other women, trapped within more tortuous narratives of longing and abnegation, who merit a similar attention. Our play articulates the story of Gina Ekdal nee Hansen – a woman who seems a different order of Ibsen woman.
Gina is tells her tale, as one who has authored her silence instead of being authored by it. By exploring how the role of 'slavemother-wife' becomes the strategic mask that Gina the woman dons to make herself indispensable to the Ekdal household, the production blurs the line that conventionally separates empowerment and erasure. Nora can slam all the doors she wants, but Gina is content to live her life within locked doors as long as the walls are of her own making. The production thereby extends and challenges in equal measure, the seeming inattention of the playwright to this troubled woman.
Direction – Keval Arora, Gandharv Dewan
  O Ibsen : Maitreyi College
“What more does a woman want than a good, comfortable home, a caring husband and loving kids”…this opinion is engraved in the mind of every Indian. Globalization has changed things to the point where the centre of the market of advertisements is a female. She smiles and merchandises the products. On the other hand, half the population of India is female, and they continue to maintain the homes of their fathers, husbands and sons. Most are anemic. In O Ibsen, Ibsen himself is a character, coming face to face with questions raised by his own characters. He strives, he suffers, and in the end leaves the questions for the audience. Few images and researched facts are showcased through multimedia projections, which further throws light on the disparity prevailing in the social fabric. The actors sometime go through the lives of Hedda, Nora, Mrs. Alving, Regina and at times portray the situation in India. For some this may seem to be a feminist approach, but for Ibsen it was the human being who was important. We, Abhivyakti, in O Ibsen , aspire to reach that human condition where nobody feels suffocated.
Direction - Kuldeep Kunal
The Mannequins in Elysium : Lady Sri Ram Colleg
Inspired by three overwhelmingly strong characters from Ibsen's plays, Nora, Hedda and Helena, The Mannequins in Elysium is a contemporary reading of these powerful women. The triangular plot explores the paradoxes that underscore their lives. In their palpable silence and studied womanliness, we spawn a tale where all of them interact with each other. Neither with benevolent sympathy nor callous indifference, but with the dramatic aplomb that makes them the fascinating women they are. The play deals with the conflicts they face and their individual responses to evade them. Both lyrical and narrative, the play is consciously placed in a fictional time where all of them occupy the same space thus allowing one to discern the contrasts in them that make the plot of this play.
Direction - Devika Menon , Sachi Sarawgi
Doors : Miranda House
A Doll's House is probably Ibsen's best known and most frequently performed play. The challenge for us was to communicate the power and relevance of Ibsen's text without allowing it to be dismissed as “clichéd”, “dated”, “why doesn't she just get a job, a divorce...a lover …”, “how could she stay with that jerk for such a long time…” or alternatively “but what about the children?”
We decided to address these questions and statements by combining Ibsen's text with another land- mark play, Mohan Rakesh's Hindi play Adhe-Adhure / Half-way House , a play about a middle- aged working woman Savitri, older than Nora ,a wife and mother in a completely dysfunctional middle class family, that has seen far better days.
Our play Doors is a product of the interplay of these two texts, a comment on possibilities, and the ramifications of choices made and not made by the women in both plays. Doors we think thus indianizes A Doll's House not only in terms of cultural setting, but also theme and content. We were also faced with the ever present hurdle faced by all women theatre groups- what to do about the male characters? And there are plenty in Ibsen's plays! This does and has influenced the staging and stylistic treatment of the play, and we hope that we have been able to make it, if not a strength, at least not a limitation.
Direction – Nikita Teresa Sarkar