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Avant-Garde Performance of Othello: A Unique Presentation at the Central University of Jharkhand

Ranchi, Jharkhand  | October  | 09, 2023 ::  A scene from William Shakespeare’s iconic tragedy “Othello” was brought to life on Monday, September 9th, by third-semester students in the MPA Theatre Arts programme at the Department of Performing Arts, Central University of Jharkhand. This performance distinguishes itself from numerous contemporary adaptations of “Othello” through its avant-garde elements.

This presentation serves as a reflection of our world, where everything is subject to the influence of both visible and invisible forces. Conditions are meticulously set, compelling victims to act in specific ways. In this rendition, Iago assumes the role of a controlling force, manipulating the lives and actions of all the characters. Inspired by this concept, Dr. Venkata Naresh Burla, Assistant Professor of Theatre and the director of the play, incorporated elements from the traditional Indian puppet theatre form, Kathputli, where the puppeteer orchestrates the puppets. Iago, in this interpretation, metamorphoses into a metaphorical puppeteer, with other characters as his puppets. However, only select aspects of puppetry were used to convey the emotions and essence of the play.

Another distinctive feature of the performance was the dual portrayal of the protagonist, Othello. This approach delved into his inner thoughts and conflicts, representing both the negative and positive facets of his character. The performance seamlessly integrated symbolism, stylization, and movement to convey its message. Despite being a scene-work presentation, it effectively encapsulated the essence of the entire play while remaining faithful to its central theme. The ensemble cast included Alok Kumar Shukla, Amit Kumar, Kaberi Roy, Ambika Soni, Adarsh K.P., and Rishu Roshan. Nitil Kumar and Kartik Kay managed the background score, Anuj Kumar handled lighting, Atul Raj served as the stage Manager, and Shyam Prakash and Krishan Kumar assisted in the production under the guidance of Dr. Venkata Naresh Burla.

Dr. Burla’s innovative interpretation of “Othello” offered an invigorating and thought-provoking experience for the audience. It encouraged them to view the play from a fresh perspective and contemplate its profound themes of control and manipulation. The performance garnered acclaim and appreciation from Mr. Bidhu Bhusan Mishra, the Controller of Examination (COE), Dr. Sucheta Sen Chaudhuri, Dean School for the Study of Culture, Dr. Shakir Tasnim, Dr. Jaya Shahi, Faculty of the Department of Performing Arts, along with faculty from various departments, and the student audience, all of whom praised its originality and creativity

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