• Monday, Nov 18, 2019
  • Last Update : 02:14 pm

Happy Days: A monologue on escapism

  • Published at 09:59 pm July 26th, 2019
Manipuri Theatre and Hrithmancha's Happy days
Jyoti Sinha portrays Winnie, the sole character of the monodrama Happy Days | Courtesy

Jyoti's character Winnie reminisces about the 'happy' days in her life while using the objects in her bag, but occasionally she slips into sadness. The tension in the play is built through the conflict between her 'happy' moods and episodes of sadness. In the latter, she frequently handles a gun, leading the audience to contemplate an impending suicide

The monodrama Happy Days, produced by the Embassy of France,  was presented by the Manipuri Theatre and Hrithmancha at the Experimental Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The play was written by Irish author Samuel Beckett, and adapted for a Bangladeshi audience by Shuvashis Sinha. There were two characters in the original play, however, the adaptation shows just one character throughout.

The sole character Winnie is played by Jyoti Sinha, who is shown to be living in a waist-deep mound on the stage. She is depicted as incessantly talking to her husband, who also lives in a mound nearby. Both the husband and his mound are not shown the adaptation, but their presence is implied through the acting of Jyoti. 

Jyoti's character Winnie reminisces about the "happy" days in her life while using the objects in her bag, but occasionally she slips into sadness. The tension in the play is built through the conflict between her "happy" moods and episodes of sadness. In the latter, she frequently handles a gun, leading the audience to contemplate an impending suicide. 

The notable aspect of this adaptation is the fact that Jyoti delivers her dialogue while alternating between English and Bangla - if she delivers one dialogue in English, then she would deliver the next in Bangla.  

Jyoti told the Dhaka Tribune Showtime: "The use of both English and Bangla made me a little apprehensive at first, as I wondered if it would sound good or out of place. Initially, it was meant to be just in English, however, since the play is being staged by Manipuri Theatre and Hrithmancha, and this adaptation is for a Bangladeshi audience, we decided to go along with this experiment, in a bid to make promote our language more.  

"The mound my character lives in represents a cave. It symbolizes the fact that her life is completely stuck at a certain time and place. She feels trapped, as she cannot move on with her life. She is trying to escape by remembering happier days, but in reality she will always be stuck in that cave," Jyoti added. 

Samuel Beckett is renowned for authoring plays such as Endgame or Waiting for Godot. His absurdist plays often feature recurring loops, in order to symbolize the meaninglessness of human existence and routine nature of our lives.