Vol. 5 Num 479 Fri. September 30, 2005  

Streer Patra: Presenting the hard reality of women's lives
A narrative of oppression of women

Famous American poet Adrienne Rich in her popular poem Diving into the Wreck depicts how through the beginning of civilisation, even in the era of legends, the women have always been oppressed in a male-dominated society. Tagore's popular short story Streer Patra reflects this observation.

Jion Kathi, a theatre troupe, staged Streer Patra on September 28 at Natmandol, Dhaka University. Dr Biplab Bala has transformed Tagore's short story into a narrative with contemporary tone, which was presented by Ferdausi Abedin Lina.

The central character of the noteworthy Streer Patra is Mrinal, a housewife. Her narrative tells the story of women's oppression, lack of freedom and gender inequality in a middle class family. Through Mrinal, viewers get to see how women are not even allowed to express their emotions within the family. The play also depicts how women are relegated to the position of objects and portrays how women often go against each other. They are simply the 'objects of entertainment'. The interesting part of the play is the presentation of the fact that even one woman in the family has no respect for another. Mrinal's revolt is a symbolic protest against male domination.

Director Biplab Bala takes a narrative approach to the play. His projection of a family through a single artiste deserves plaudits. To support him, set designer Sudip Chakraborti has created a suggestive inner ambience of a middle class family. The use of a painting portraying a free pigeon in the midst of nature is effective to reflect Mrinal's emotions.

However, Sudip's light design needs to be honed. He could have effectively used back blue to create the depth on the stage. His division of the performing space into 'three zones' is not effective for a narrative.

Actress Ferdausi Abedin Lina's enactment of Mrinal's character demonstrated how difficult it is to have a successful solo performance. Her body movements and lukewarm voice modulation failed to move the audience.

Ferdausi Abedin Lina in the play