ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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When Silence Speaks

Performing Silence: Women in the Group Theatre Movement in Bengal by Trina Nileena Banerjee, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2021; pp 444, `1,795.

In the beginning, there was Nabanna. A group of idealistic political wor­kers came together at a time of great human suffering to produce an extra­ordinary moment in performance history, never to be repeated. The Indian People’s Theatre Association’s (IPTA) famine play “Nabanna,” first performed in 1944 against the backdrop of the “man-made” Bengal Famine of 1943–44, was henceforth to be recounted as a wondrous moment where “art and politics had come together seamlessly: a moment that was, according to most recorded evidence, not repe­ated with comparable perfection ever again” (p 67). It was a moment where the actors, irrevocably transformed by the spectre of starvation around them, became “the people” on the stage. The IPTA at the time had managed a broad congregation of artists who were not necessarily ideologically aligned to the Communist Party of India (CPI). Thus brought together, the IPTA produced performances that,

on the one hand … upheld the liberal democratic rhetoric of nationalism through the use of linear narratives and on the other hand highlighted issues that were thought to be in alignment with the Marxist universal logic of a classless society. (Saha 2018: 144)

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Updated On : 18th Jan, 2023
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