About The Play: Originally written as La Casa de Bernarda Alba by Federico Garca Lorca in the 1930`s as part of his now famous, Rural Trilogy, this play was later translated into English as The House of Bernarda Alba. Over the years, it has been performed on stage, filmed and translated into various languages all over the world, including a production in Hindi as Rukmavati Ki Haveli (a film by Govind Nihalani). The present translation in Urdu was done by versatile Hindi poet, short-storywriter, essayist, literary critic, translator, and journalist, the late Dr. Raghuvir Sahay.
This is a play about women without men. And yet to say that it is just that would be very unfair. Because the more one delves into it, the more the layers reveal themselves.There are different ways to see it: as an expression of the struggle between mans natural instinct and the regulations imposed upon it by society, or the play itself viewed as a woman showing the different facets of her nature at different timesmysterious, alluring, conniving, innocent, beautiful and disgusting.
The stage opens to the house of Birjees Qadar, the matriarch of the clan who has just buried her second husband. She declares an 8 year long period of mourning for the survivors, namely her daughters Fehmeeda (39), Qudsiya (30), Amila (27), Mushtari (24) and Adila (20), the maidservants who are known simply as Hasan Bandi and Bandi and, also Birjees` mother, Akhtari Begum, a woman fertile with passions and emotions forbidden in Birjees` world, with an undefeated lust for life in her strong and willful heart. Birjees Qadar rules the household with an iron fist.
But what she doesn`t realize is how the tiny grains of rebellion trickle out of her fists increasingly, even as she tries to make her grasp on them tighter. The more she tries to shut the doors of her house to the world, to the men outside and to blind the eyes of her clan of women to their natural instincts, the more the opening windows of her house, begin to challenge her. We see how one woman can be anothers greatest foe. Birjees` greatest challenge appears in the faceless Athar Yusuf who sends a paigham (a proposal of marriage) for one of her daughters.
What follows is a classic saga of repression, rebellion, love, rivalry between the siblings, loyalty, intrigue, betrayal, the different faces of conceit as shown by the various characters at different times, the depravity and the divinity of lust, a struggle between the natural instincts of man and the boundaries imposed by society, the dominion and suppression of woman over woman, the likes of which have seldom been seen on stage yet.
Featuring an all female cast, this play is much more than just a play about women. It is among many other things, a depiction of the human within us, often the inhuman and sometimes, the animal. It is about the one that seeks to dominate the other and the ongoing struggle between the two. Although the play is set in an Islamic household, if looked at closely, we will find that the themes of oppression and struggle are universally true throughout history that has sought to be totalitarian in its aspect.
And yet, there is more. Many more layers to be uncovered and many more faces (even of our selves) to be unveiled.
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23rd July, 2012, 07:00 PM Inox Milan Mall (Santacruz)
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