Shuturmurg: A Review in Natya Shodh Sansthan’s Rangvarta 1986
Natya Shodh Sansthan (est. 1981 in Kolkata) is the largest archive of materials on Indian theatre. In 1986 NSS began publishing their official news bulletin, ‘Rangavarta’ edited by the formidable art critic Samik Bandyopadhyay. The magazine articulated modern discourses on artistic and cultural significance of theatre and its practices.
In the 4th volume of the bulletin, published in April 1986, Anjana Guha Chatterjee reviewed the stage production of ‘Shuturmurg’, a 1967 play written by Gyandev Agnihotri (image above). A study of despotism, megalomania and it’s distressing impact on a people, the play is the story of a strange land ruled by a frivolous king. When faced with suffering of his people, the king pays no heed to their needs. Like an ostrich, he buries his head in the sand.
Exemplifying the harmony established by the bulletin between theatre critcism and a review to, in the words of Sh. Bandyopadhyay, “make theatre survive and offer it a lift in the eyes of the audience,” the article not only places the production within its contemporary context but also offers a study in stagecraft.
Interestingly, this bulletin was designed by Khaled Chowdhury, who also happens to be the stage designer for the production of Shuturmurg.
Image Courtesy: Anand Gupt Collection/ Alkazi Theatre Archives