Talking Texts and Performing Prints
A participatory performance at Apeejay Literary Festival, 2017
Talking Texts & Performing Prints, is a performance which celebrated the completion of the first stage of engagement with the Patachitrakar community from Mednipore. In course of the this process we worked with diverse elements and people from different disciplines. There was an attempt to seek the artistic expression which is beyond the socially and culturally defined roles of these individuals and to also address the current & emerging realities and explore the various possibilities ahead.
‘Talking Texts and Performing Print’: Moving the Printed Text beyond Monologue to Dialogues, Proprietorship to Participation, and Author to Community presented by Culture Monks is a theatre performance based on The Foolish Fly—a book created, through the Participatory Publishing Praxis modality, in sequential art-narrative form and translated into English from Sukumar Ray’s Bengali poem ‘MurkhoMachhi’ by the Patachitrakar community, who are traditional scroll painters and singers from the Medinipur district of West Bengal in India.The performance would be an invitation to experience a text as it migrates across multiple dimensions and media—from the printed page to the screen, and theatre enactment to live dialogue—coming full circle to mediate a mutuality of meaning made by actor and spectator alike. Here the writer is no longer a privileged producer, nor the reader a passive consumer, but contributors to the communication catalyzed by the printed text. In such a text of participatory discourse that situates itself in human relationship and refuses to trade itself in the marketplace of ideas, categories give way to community—an experience of textual transformation that this performance seeks to explore in its many possibilities.
The Foolish Fly—a book adaptation of Sukumar Ray’s poem created by the Patachitrakars of Nayagram—would be presented at the venue as community narrative in their traditional patrecital style—nested within and interwoven with theatre episodes led by Janardan Ghosh along with Pradip Chatterjee and Debaprasad Bandopadhyay—as partly script-based enactment and partly conversational improvisation. Audio-visual screening particularly of participant interviews on the making of the book would also punctuate the performance, along with projections of graphic images establishing contexts and thematic connections. The audience would be encouraged to participate inactive discussion with the actors and community members. They would also be required to respond to the performance in whatever modality or medium they choose, or that can be made available at the venue, which could possibly feed into future performances and publications demonstrating the continuum and fluidity of the participatory process. We hence encouraged and invited people from all walks, including writers, painters, poets, musicians to come forth and participate in the performance.