TODAY -

Ratan Thiyam's "When We Dead Awaken"
at Delhi Ibsen Festival from December 10-20 , 2008

Meghachandra Kongbam *



Delhiites will see the theatre house jam-packed with audience again in Delhi when the great theatre director Ratan Thiyam's new production "When We Dead Awaken" is premiered on December 17 at Kamani Auditorium here during the forthcoming Delhi Ibsen Festival from December 10-20 this year.

It has become a usual happening in Ratan's plays shown in Delhi that all the gang ways inside the theatre are usually occupied by the audience, due to non-availability of seats, to have a glimpse of the visual aesthetics of his play.

The Royal Norwegian Embassy has initiated the Festival in co-operation with Nissar Allana, Director of the Dramatic Art and Design Academy (DADA), New Delhi with an aim to celebrate and explore the new dimensions of the 19th century Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) who was known as the "Father of Modern Drama".

The Festival will contain three Indian Ibsen-productions namely,

  • John Gabriel Borkmann directed by Anuradha Kapur from Delhi on December 15,
  • Little Eyolf by Neelam Mansingh from Chandigarh on December 16 and
  • When We Dead Awaken by Ratan Thiyam from Imphal on December 17;
three Norwegian productions namely
  • Lady from the Sea by Un-Magritt Nordseth on December 10-11,
  • White Horses by Jon Tombre on December 12-13 and
  • Ibsen Women by Juni Dahr on December 18;
  • and a cross professional two-day seminar on December 19-20.
When We Dead Awaken is the last play written by the Ibsen in 1899 and it was first staged in Stuttgart in 1900. Ratan Thiyam's play in Manipuri has a duration of about 80 minutes and consists of 24 artistes.

The play is suffused by an intense desire for life, but whether it can be achieved is left problematic, given the play's ironic conclusion.

Arnold Rubek is an ageing, celebrated sculptor who has achieved great international fame with his sculpture "The Day of the Resurrection".

The model for this piece of sculpture was Irene, who earlier had considered it her lifework to accompany Rubek and help him in his work.

They appear to have had strong feelings for each other at that time, but Rubek refused to consider Irene as anything more than his model, so, disappointed and angry, she left him.

Since then, Rubek's creative power has diminished, and he now feels that he can no longer create art of any significance. Irene, alone, holds the key to his creativity.

He has married Maja, a considerably younger woman, and the two of them have lived abroad in a marriage that has gradually become somewhat cool. The play opens with Rubek and Maja staying at a seaside hotel in Norway .

They meet Ulfheim, a landowner and bear-hunter, who invites Maja to get up into the mountains with him. One of the guests at the hotel is a mysterious woman dressed in white and accompanied by a nurse. This turns out to be Irene.

She has been married twice, and has been in a mental hospital. She seems to be in the grip of a "living death"\, and in a painful confrontation she accuses Rubek of having ruined her life and stolen her soul.

For his part he begs her to come back to him so that he can regain his creative power. The two of them go up into the mountains to become lovers again. Near the top they meet Maja and Ulfheim.

A storm blows up, and Maja and Ulfheim go down the mountain into safety, while Irene and Rubek go on towards the peak, where they die in an avalanche.

National Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee actor R.K. Bhogen plays the principal role of Arnold Rubek in the production.




* Meghachandra Kongbam contributes to e-pao.net for the first time. The writer can be contacted at mkongbam(at)yahoo(dot)co(dot)in
This article was webcasted on December 09, 2008.


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