Labour Day: A Look Back at Utpal Dutt’s Angar (1959) in Seagull Theatre Quarterly
“Portraying the proletarian hero as a giant with no weakness is telling the audience that it’s impossible to be a revolutionary. The worker of peasant in the audience concludes: “I can never be like him, because I have many weaknesses.” Our hero must be as complex as any other human being. In one thing alone he must be simple, direct, and uncompromising: his class attitude.”
Utpal Dutt’s Angar ushered in a people’s theatre that recaptures important episodes from their past to remind them of all the contemporary cultural interpolations that alienate them from their nature and history.
Angar focusses on the wretched work and life conditions of coal miners and was produced the same year as the Coal Grading Board Repeal Act (1959).
The monumental double issues 27/28 and 29/30 of the Seagull Theatre Quarterly (@seagullbooks) are significant documents of the history of post-independence Bangla Group Theatre. Edited by Anjum Katyal and Samik Bandyopadhyay, the nuanced conversations and testimonies (published from a cross section of actors-directors, actresses, and actress-directors) touch upon organizational and economic issues, creative and ideological differences that moulded group theatre as we understand it today.
Image Courtesy (1): Seagull Theatre Quarterly, Issue 27/28, December 2000 / From the Alkazi Theatre Archive
Image Courtesy (2): Seagull Theatre Quarterly, Issue 29/30, June 2001 / From the Alkazi Theatre Archive