The Theatre of the Absurd is a moniker given to a genre of post World War-II plays where the premise is a man’s reaction to a world controlled by outside forces.
Eugene Ionesco’s The Lesson, considered one of the classic plays of our times is also one of the most celebrated under the theatre of Absurd. While the play has been performed countless times across the world, Dramatic Circle Hyderabad is bringing this masterpiece to the city which is being helmed by veteran theatre director Pranava Singhal.
“While the play was written initially in the context of Nazi Fascism, we have deleted the reference of fascism in this retelling.” notes Singhal and adds, “Our fixed views are generally passed on to the younger generation without giving them a choice of free thought. There is no change of message. There is a lot of bullying of young minds — from the intellectual to the religious which is where this play holds relevance.”
While the Dramatic Circle Hyderabad has performed this play in the city nearly 40 years ago, this is the first time that Singhal is captaining the ship and he shares that he hasn’t seen it being performed earlier. Remarking that the genre in which it is set is challenging, the veteran director adds, “The challenge which one faces while doing something like this is that absurd drama by definition itself is not logical. You can lose an audience easily. The trick is to make sense within nonsense, so to speak. Within the absurdity unfolding you have to make sense, so that the message won’t get lost in the absurdity.”
For a play under this genre to succeed, the director feels that the onus is on the actors. He explains, “There needs to be strong understanding of the concept not only by the director but also by the actors, only then can the message be conveyed to the audience. The format makes it very interesting as it’s not just another sequential events at play, and the difficult part for the actors is that when the lines are non-sequential they have to work all the more harder. They have to get the lines precisely right.” Singhal has previously worked on other plays under this genre, including another famous play, Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett which he acted and co-directed a long time ago.
With a run time of 80 minutes, The Lesson checks all the boxes of an engrossing play, and Singhal says that it is relevant in today’s times. As it has a message for young people, students over 18 years can have a free entry, provided they furnish their ID proof.
“The play has a mix of many emotions – sex, violence and humour, and in spite of being an Absurd play, it has a message for everyone watching. It’s very entertaining and of course, being one of the forerunners of the avante garde movement, one of the great classics of our time,” he shares.
(Dramatic Circle Hyderabad (DCH) performs Eugene Ionesco’s ‘The Lesson’ at Phoenix Arenaon Sunday March 17 at 7 30 pm; Tickets bookmyshow.com)