Kolkata International Performance Festival ,25th Jan 2016
Majher hat Station to Eden Garden in Local Train
“Down these mean streets a man must go who is not himself mean, who is neither tarnished nor afraid? He is the hero, he is everything. He must be a complete man and a common man and yet an unusual man. He must be, to use a rather weathered phrase, a man of honor, by instinct, by inevitability, without thought of it, and certainly without saying it. He must be the best man in his world and a good enough man for any world.” - Rebecca Harding Davis.
Kolkata is one of the busiest cities in India. The historical city has lots to offer, when one enters the city one not only see old historical building but also sees old buildings, people on roads, local, migrants, laborer, people from different walk of life. The densely populated city has lots to offer, to learn and observe the life. Till now I have approached this city with various perspectives through my previous performances based on Historical and Social aspects.
This time I wanted to see it from common person point of view. From my earlier trips I always wanted to know the city very closely and it would be a challenge to perform, although undemanding yet complicated as we are also part of it but again to see through others point of view. City breaths in and out, hustle and bustle of the crowd, you see faces of most common people like Chai walas, laborers, small time vendors and many migrants from small town, the working class and all kinds of people. City is alive because of these common people. The performance that I had conceived was to brings in the element of common mans perspective and despite being nucleus of any city they merge in crowd and become common man in the society, you come across many stories that common man becomes hero but again get lost back in nothingness. I am more curious how it would be to see the world through the eyes of common man. I wanted to put my foot in their shoes being nobody yet important for society.
The city of joy has left lot of good impression in my mind. The life, liveliness, art and cultural environment has always attracted me there is some romantic inclination attach with city life, the lamp post which reminds me of colonial history, the soft music played on streets feel the heart with memories of Rabindra Sangeet and old times. One surely falls in love with city at first site.
The performance was about space, about the common people, about the impression in my mind. This performance was attempted to bring this liveliness of life seen in the eyes of people. This performance will mark/map traces of this very signs of happenings in the city. I was also interested since venue for the performance site was in old part of the town, which gives scope for interaction and to be in that space itself marks the relevance in both time and space.
This performance was an impression of city during my earlier interactions, through performance I tried to bring these impulses in my Performance and work with space. I performed like those Light Man in Marriage Brass band who hold lights on their head during marriage wedding functions These Light man /woman has no other role but to just hold lights on their head walk with band to provide light their existence is just like object in the whole marriage band. Genuinely observing I felt in their nothingness there is so much life and the people and city just ignore this as if their existence does not matter they are most commons. Giving light also metaphorically reciprocates their existence.
My attempt was to dig into those void unfulfilled spaces, understanding and feeling ideas of life, existence survival and understanding commons man. In this performance I was wearing light as my hair plaits which plays as dual role one as a bridegroom and other common light women and interacting with local people.Some fragments experiences of common man their struggle to negotiate life and survival. All through my train journey from Majher hat station to the Eden Gardens to and fro I was walking with this lights and sharing postcard containing images of Music band Brass player while interacting with people in the train.
Dimple B Shah, 2015