Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, May 4, 2006


My Great Love Affair

By Sabrina F Ahmad

I was about seven or eight when I had my first theatre experience. I was a huge fan of Humayun Ahmed's 'Auyomoy', and when the television series ended, my mother took me to the Shilpakala Academy to watch a special Auyomoy parody that was staged there. Before that, my acquaintance with the stage was limited to the end-of-the-year school programmes where we kids would be outfitted in ridiculous costumes and asked to get up and recite poetry or sing songs so that our parents could clasp their hands and exclaim 'That's my baby!”

A hush fell on the audience as the lights dimmed, and the play began. For the next one and a half hours, I sat entranced as the characters I had come to fall in love with on the small screen tromped on and off the stage. Asaduzzaman Noor as the multifaceted, romantic Mirza Shaheb, Sarah Zaker as his enchanting second wife Elaichi Begum, Bipasha Hayat as her sister Labanga, all my favourite characters, left me star-struck and helpless with laughter as they delivered their witty dialogues, making fun of their own on-screen personalities. When the show ended and it was time to go, I knew something inside of me had changed forever. I was in love.

I grew up and moved to a big school (no points for guessing), and I found plenty of opportunities to get close to this art form that had so fascinated me. I went with friends to watch the Bengali adaptation of 'A Midsummer Night's Dream' at the National Museum and came back sighing over Demetrius and his fiery red hair. I smiled and sang along to the 'Oliver' musical staged at our school campus. I enthusiastically played all the theatre games they had in our drama class. Painfully shy when it came to performing though, I clung fiercely to the fringes of the cultural programmes at school, opting to be a voice in the chorus as opposed to the lead role.

All too soon, the carefree years of high school were over, and I found myself bidding the auditorium an emotional goodbye. Other interests and commitments soon followed, and real life crept in.

Swamped by deadlines, presentations and submissions, my love affair with theatre took a back seat. As a Media student, I had many opportunities to hone my acting skills, and even began to take interest in film, but it wasn't the same thing, talking into an inanimate lens. Occasionally, I'd glance at the newspapers and see timings for some play, and told myself, 'Maybe later.” But that 'later' never came.

It was when I joined this writer's forum that I'm currently with, that I was re-acquainted with my old flame. It began with a showcasing of our work onstage. An hour before my first show with the group, I was sitting in the green room, as white as a sheet, trembling like a leaf as I battled with stage fright. When the spotlight turned on, though, I was strangely calm as I went through the motions of the play. I was in the zone, feeding off the energies of a live audience, and loving every minute of it. From that moment, my great love affair with theatre has resumed in full blast.

I've been acting for almost a year now, and I learn something new with every performance. I also catch the odd play whenever I can, be it at my university, or the British Council, or DU's Nat Mondol, or even my old favourite, the Shilpakala Academy, and I've never been happier.

Different people like theatre for different reasons. I'm no expert. I wouldn't be able to tell you anything about the 'existentialism' or 'post-modernism' or whatever tongue-twisting jargon my fellow members in the writers' forum use.

When I'm onstage, I like the spontaneity of interacting with a live crowd, and the freedom of escaping myself and stepping into the shoes of an entirely different character. When I'm sitting in the audience, I enjoy watching the interaction between the players, the chemistry and the tension; I love how lights, music, gestures and dialogues can work together to bring a story to life. It's magic, sheer magic, and when the curtains go up, I'm spellbound.

Say the magic word "MOM!"

By Aniqua Monuddin Illustration by E.R. Ronny

“Could I go to the concert?”
“They smoke pot and do drugs in those places.”
“NO mom, they don't, and even if they do, do you expect me to go up to a bunch of drug addicts and ask for a whiff?”
“It just isn't a healthy environment…”
“Why don't you just admit that you don't trust your own child (the ever-effective emotional blackmail)!?” *Hysterical sobbing followed by melodramatic Oliver Twist dialogues and a final thunderous door slam*
Aaah….the sound of the all time bitter-sweet relationship of the patient mother and her teenage devils. This scene has been enacted one too many times in every single household that is home to a teenager. It is to be followed by days of the 'Silent-Treatment' during which we, the obstinate brats display how perfectly we have comprehended the instruction 'Speak when you're spoken to', along with our summarizing skills which reduces conversations to monosyllable answers of 'yes', 'no' (used mostly), ok, hmmm (most preferred). Needless to say, any human being who can put up with this kind of behavior without ending up committing murder in the first degree of these little brats, are undoubtedly super humans; and fortunately every single household has been blessed with one of these super-humans known by the name of “Mom”
“Mom, I can't find my dress, could you find it for me? Mom, I lost my Physics copy, where is it? Mom the flush broke, get it repaired. Mom, the magnetic field of the earth is weakening, do something about it.” That is precisely how absurd and relentless our commands are and yet these commands are met by “Mom” with full effort, patience and often words of advice. However when she says, “Clean your room (not even: clean the house)”, the excuses flood out continuously, sometimes accompanied with comments like “You cannot expect me to ace my studies AND do housework!” Could you say INSENSITIVE!? Well, that's what moms put up with.
Once a woman steps into motherhood, a section of her brain evolves drastically and is almost mechanic in its function of remembering dates, events, daily details (school timings, tailor address, maid's bio-data, names of husband's countless colleagues, location of every single object in the house); how else do you explain their immaculate memory! Because obviously the brain that you and I are presently in possession of could not, even under the most strenuous of situations, retain the above pool of diversified information.
And as if these qualities were not enough, they are even gifted with this sixth sense of 'knowing', yeah, just knowing everything that is going on, just like that.
“Where are you off to?”
“Are you sure…?”
“What's that supposed to mean!”
“Keep my cell with you and this money in case you girls decide to go off somewhere.” And you wander exactly when it was that you wrote out your day's plan on your face!
So there, she just always knows, no matter how shrewd a planner you are and how fool proof the plan is, she is just one tiny step ahead because for her it's all “been there…done that” maybe she sneaked to cinema halls instead of concerts in their days, and her mom sneaked to bioscopes instead of cinemas, but the 'principle' remains unchanged. However she might not always let on that she knows about our white lies, and small mischief(s) and we take the silence as signs of ignorance.
I'm quite sure that I speak on behalf of the general teen population when I say that at several occasions we do regret the attitude and the behaviour with which we present ourselves to the toiling mother. Several resolutions of becoming sensible, sensitive, understanding, overall just a little less evil towards mothers, have been formulated and flushed down the toilet over the years. It REALLY is some kind of hormonal problem which we face at this tender age (at least that is the excuse) and a natural problem in front of which we are powerless. But the fact is we do know (although for some inexplicable reason we can't exactly show it) how much Moms do for us, how helpless and loveless we would be without them. Happy Mother's day to all the Moms out there, you're the best!


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