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Ashish Khondker's 'Two Strangers vs Oleander Flower': A journey into a magical fairy tale

  • Published at 12:27 am July 22nd, 2019
Two Strangers vs Oleander Flower
Two Strangers vs Oleander Flower | Courtesy

'Fairy tales at the end of the day reflects the reality we live in. Fairy tales represents reality. In fact they have also lead to scientific inventions, and advancements'

Veteran theatre actor, director, and playwright Ashish Khondker staged his famous play "Two Strangers vs Oleander Flower" at the Studio Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on Friday.

There were two consecutive staging of the play; the first one began at 7pm and lasted till 7:40pm, and the second one began at 8pm to end at 8:40pm. The play, which had been written and directed by Ashish Khondker, depicts a very familiar fairy tale of two princes, and a magic mirror.

In regards to the inspiration of the play Ashish told Dhaka Tribune Showtime: "It is an age-old fairy tale of the grassroots people. We have all heard fairy tales. Recently the fairy tales set in urban locality is more prominent. However, this script of the play was inspired by a grass roots fairy tale, and I have adapted it for the stage with a postmodernist touch.

"There is almost a silliness to the elements in the play. Such as two princes, a ring, a magic mirror, staff, etc. These are recurring motifs in fairy tales of not just our region, but the world over. However, fairy tales at the end of the day reflects the reality we live in. Fairy tales represents reality. In fact they have also lead to scientific inventions, and advancements.

"However, now these fairy tales are slowly getting erased from our memories because we have all become very busy with technology. So I have decided to adapt the story for stage to keep it alive on a post-modern surface. I am also inspired by science, and have included scientific inventions within the play," Ashish added.

In regards to technical aspects of staging the play Ashish said: "It does not require much besides an open space. You can stage it under a tree or on a river bank. The props are pretty minimal as well. As you saw, the car looked like it was just a bigger version of a children's toy car. It weighed 10kgs. But the play is of such a story, that it does not require much besides an open environment. The audience will be transported to the time period and the setting of the play from watching, and listening to the dialogues."

In response to whether he ever wants to lengthen the script, Ashish said: "I have staged the play 10 times, but I never felt like extending it. I like it concise, and crisp. What with the wanton traffic congestion, and the environment in Dhaka, making it big would be counter-productive. People would fail to devote attention to it, if it was for a longer time.

"I once staged it at Panchagarh theatre festival, and it was so well received that it was heartwarming. The dialogues I have written, and the way I envisioned the play was perfectly understood by the audience there, as they have all heard the story before; two princes, et al. I have been in professional theatre for the last 15 years, and I take a lot of pride in my work. I think in an off-track or in an alternative manner if you will. Hence, this play is not for big stages, but for a niche crowd," Ashish added.