Tuesday 27 March 2018

Wole Soyinka's The Swamp Dwellers

Wole Soyinka's The Swamp Dweller

The Writer: Wole Soyinka: (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wole_Soyinka)

Akinwande Oluwole "Wole" Babatunde Soyinka (YorubaAkinwándé Oluwo̩lé Babátúndé S̩óyinkápronounced [wɔlé ʃójĩŋká]; born 13 July 1934) is a Nigerian playwright, poet and essayist. He was awarded the 1986 Nobel Prize in Literature,[2] the first African to be honoured in that category.
Soyinka was born into a Yoruba family in Abeokuta. After studying in Nigeria and the UK, he worked with the Royal Court Theatre in London. He went on to write plays that were produced in both countries, in theatres and on radio. He took an active role in Nigeria's political history and its struggle for independence from Great Britain. In 1965, he seized the Western Nigeria Broadcasting Service studio and broadcast a demand for the cancellation of the Western Nigeria Regional Elections. In 1967 during the Nigerian Civil War, he was arrested by the federal government of General Yakubu Gowon and put in solitary confinement for two years.[3]
Soyinka has been a strong critic of successive Nigerian governments, especially the country's many military dictators, as well as other political tyrannies, including the Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe. Much of his writing has been concerned with "the oppressive boot and the irrelevance of the colour of the foot that wears it".[4]During the regime of General Sani Abacha (1993–98), Soyinka escaped from Nigeria on a motorcycle via the "NADECO Route." Abacha later proclaimed a death sentence against him "in absentia."[4] With civilian rule restored to Nigeria in 1999, Soyinka returned to his nation.
In Nigeria, Soyinka was a Professor of Comparative Literature (1975 to 1999) at the Obafemi Awolowo University, then called the University of Ife.[5] With civilian rule restored to Nigeria in 1999, he was made professor emeritus.[3] While in the United States, he first taught at Cornell University as Goldwin Smith professor for African Studies and Theatre Arts from 1988-1991[6][7] and then at Emory University where in 1996 he was appointed Robert W. Woodruff Professor of the Arts. Soyinka has been a Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and has served as scholar-in-residence at NYU’s Institute of African American Affairs and at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, California, US.[3][8] He has also taught at the universities of OxfordHarvard and Yale.[9][10]
In December 2017, he was awarded the Europe Theatre Prize in the "Special Prize" category[11][12] awarded to someone who has “contributed to the realisation of cultural events that promote understanding and the exchange of knowledge between peoples”.[13]
After graduating, he remained in Leeds with the intention of earning an M.A. Soyinka intended to write new work combining European theatrical traditions with those of his Yorùbá cultural heritage. His first major play, The Swamp Dwellers (1958), was followed a year later by The Lion and the Jewel, a comedy that attracted interest from several members of London's Royal Court Theatre. Encouraged, Soyinka moved to London, where he worked as a play reader for the Royal Court Theatre. During the same period, both of his plays were performed in Ibadan. They dealt with the uneasy relationship between progress and tradition in Nigeria.[20]

Watch the Play - The Swamp Dwellers

  1.  Tyler Wasson; Gert H. Brieger (1 January 1987). Nobel Prize Winners: An H.W. Wilson Biographical Dictionary, Volume 1. The University of Michigan. p. 993. ISBN 9780824207564. Retrieved 4 December 2014.

  2. Jump up^ "The Nobel Prize in Literature 1986 Wole Soyinka". The Nobel Prize. Retrieved 10 December 2013.

  3. Jump up to:a b c Theresia de Vroom, "The Many Dimensions of Wole Soyinka"Vistas, Loyola Marymount University. Retrieved 17 April 2012.

  4. Jump up to:a b c d Maya Jaggi (2 November 2002). "Ousting monsters"The GuardianISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 4 October 2016.

  5. Jump up^ "Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife  » Brief History of the University"www.oauife.edu.ng. Retrieved 2016-10-04.

  6. Jump up^ "Soyinka, Wole 1934- - Dictionary definition of Soyinka, Wole 1934- | Encyclopedia.com: FREE online dictionary"www.encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 2017-12-22.

  7. Jump up^ https://ecommons.cornell.edu/bitstream/handle/1813/25283/019_37.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

  8. Jump up to:a b "Nobel Laureate Soyinka at NYU for Events in October", News Release, NYU, 16 September 2016.

  9. Jump up^ "Profile of Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka" (pdf). The University of Alberta. Retrieved 10 December 2013.

  10. Jump up^ Posey, Jacquie (18 November 2004). "Nigerian Writer, Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka to Speak at Penn"The University of Pennsylvania. Retrieved 10 December 2013.

  11. Jump up^ "Wole Soyinka Wins The Europe Theatre Prize - PM NEWS Nigeria"PM NEWS Nigeria. 2017-12-12. Retrieved 2017-12-24.

  12. Jump up^ "Soyinka Wins 2017 Europe Theatre Prize"Concise News. 2017-12-15. Retrieved 2017-12-24.

  13. Jump up to:a b "Wole Soyinka to receive Europe Theatre Prize 2017"James Murua's Literature Blog. 2017-12-14. Retrieved 2017-12-24.

  14.  "Wole Soyinka"The New York Times, 22 July 2009.

Wednesday 20 December 2017

An Insignificant Man - Full Film

Why should I watch this documentary film?

You should watch it to understand 'Democracy' in a better way. Listen what producer Anand Gandhi has to say about this film:

Watch full lenght feature film:

Thursday 21 September 2017

Postcolonialism and Ecology

Postcolonial reading of Ecology

One of the most persistent and controversial topics of contemporary politics is the issue of the environment. Global warming has demonstrated the devastating effects of the industrial revolution and the unfettered pursuit of capital expansion. The environment, and attendant topics such as ecofeminism, ecological imperialism, environmentalism,speciesism have all taken an increasingly prominent place in post-colonial thought because it has become clear that there is a direct connection between colonialist treatment of indigenous flora and fauna and treatment of colonized and otherwise dominated subjects and societies.The devastation of colonized place (and potentially of the planet) paved the way for the devastation of societies.Until now the destruction of the physical and human environments have become the same thing. (Introduction to the Second Edition: POST-COLONIAL STUDIES: The Key Concepts by Bill Ashcroft,Gareth Griffiths and Helen Tiffin. Routledge. 2007.)

This animation by Steve Cutts explains in nutshell the encroachment and thus colonization of Ecology by Human Beings. The deconstructive hermeneutics of  helps us in developing the perspective necessary for both, the ecocriticism as well as postcolonial reading of relation between human and environment.


Friday 15 September 2017

LaPreK - Micro Love Fiction - लप्रेक - लघु प्रेम कथा

LaPreK - Micro Love Fiction - लप्रेक - लघु प्रेम कथा

यह लप्रेक क्या चीज है?

What is the meaning of LaPreK?

These videos will help you understand the meaning of this new trend of literature which is growing in all languages. It can be seen as an influence of social media like WhatsApp or Facebook. It can be also seen as an influence of the reading habit of the contemporary readers. Today, people do not have patience to read longer narratives. It seems, the 'fast-food' effect has habituated literary readers to get instant catharsis. Now, people do not want to wait and give time to aesthetic delight to ripe. Now, the new readers want to taste delight instantly. 

Enjoy these videos:

हिन्दीभाषा के लिए  #१४सितम्बर भारत में #हिन्दी_दिवस मनाया जाता है.

'इश्क में शहर होना' - रवीश कुमार की फेसबुक लव कहानियां 'लप्रेक' का उत्तम उदहारण है.

लप्रेक के बारे में जानिये और एन्जॉय कीजिये कुछ एक लघु प्रेम कथाए, लेखक की जुबानी.

Postcolonial Perspective and Shashi Tharoor

Postcolonial Perspective and Shashi Tharoor

As India celebrates 70 years of its independence from colonial rule, this session debates colonialism’s claims of benefit and development despite evidence of its fundamental nature. The panelists discuss if this period — from the time of Vasco da Gama's arrival to the final emergence of the English as the principal colonisers of the Indian subcontinent — was one of acquiring as much and as many of India's riches as each European power could lay their hands on. Session co-hosted by the South Asia Centre, LSE and The British Library, as part of the series ‘Colony as Empire: Histories from Whitehall’

Shashi Tharoor was present on the Q & A Australian show. Here are his highlights.

0:00 - Shashi Tharoor on Loots of the British Empire and how that affected India
10:08 - Shashi Tharoor on Homosexuality and Trans-gender rights in India
7:56 - Shashi Tharoor on rise of the Right and the backlash against Liberlism
11:50 - Shashi Tharoor on North Korea and Kim Jon Un

The article on this video

The motion: This house believes Britain owes reparations to her former colonies.

ABOUT THE OXFORD UNION SOCIETY: The Union is the world's most prestigious debating society, with an unparalleled reputation for bringing international guests and speakers to Oxford. It has been established for 189 years, aiming to promote debate and discussion not just in Oxford University, but across the globe.

Wednesday 13 September 2017

Best of George Carlin

Best of George Carlin

George Denis Patrick Carlin (May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008) was an American stand-up comedian, actor, author and social critic.
Carlin was noted for his black comedy and thoughts on politics, the English language, psychology, religion, and various taboo subjects (Wikipedia).
The Kennedy Center posthumously awarded Mark Twain Prize for American Humor to George Carlin.

George Carlin on American Dream

"The reason they call it the American Dream is because you have to be asleep to believe it."
Watch this amazing comedy with social satire on American education and dream:

George Carlin on Religion:

Wednesday 9 August 2017

Digdarshak - Hindi Play: दिगदर्शक - हिन्दी नाटक: Review

दिगदर्शक - हिन्दी नाटक - Digdarskhak - Hindi Play

Students watching screening of the play - Digdarshak

About the Play:

Digdarshak - Hindi Drama - One Act Play - eNatya Shodh 2017
Shortlisted For Enatya Shodh 2017 - Online One Act Play Competition.

Written By : Priyam Jani
Directed By : Rishit Jhaveri 

For More One Act Plays - Www.Youtube.Com/Oneactplaysindia

Visit - Www.Mumbaitheatreguide.Com
For More Information About Plays In Mumbai (From: YouTube link of the play)

The Film Screening Committee of Department of English, M K Bhavnagar University organised screening of this play. Thanks to all the committee members, specially to Alpa Ponda, for the show. 

Theme/s of the Play:

Though the central conflict in the play is about theatre vs cinema, it is richly layered to offer several universal themes.
The protagonist of the play, the Director, is in favour of theatre. He dislikes talented actors joining film industry / cinema.
We have several age old controversies in the field of art and literature.
Art for the sake of Art Vs Art for the sake of Life.
Is the prime function of literature to offer aesthetic delight or instruct / teach?
Is History or Philosophy better than Literature in the matter Truth / Fact?
We have no ultimate answers to these debates.

Theatre Vs Cinema : Stage Vs Screen

Coming of the age of cinema, we dabble with yet another equally interesting debate - Theatre Vs Cinema.
The Gardian's film critic Peter Bradshaw has written an interesting article on Stage Vs Screen. This is worth reading. The experiment he wrote about is amazing. He watched Kenneth Branagh's Romeo and Juliet till interval live performance in the theatre and the other half, on cinema screen wherein the play was live streamed. He realised that both the form of art have its own charm.
It is believed, and quite truly, that theatre is more difficult than cinema. Both for director as well as actors, not to mention the hard work people behind the screens do during Fade-in and Fade-out, have to painstakingly work during rehearsals. The effort put in live performance is far more rigorous and demanding than in cinema shooting wherein 'retakes' can help actors improve their performance and take enough rest in between.
It won't be exaggeration if we say that for a theatre actor, perfromance in cinema is child's play, whereas for cinema actor, it is a hard nut to crack (लोहे के चने चबाना) to perform before live audience.

There is yet another interesting difference between the Theatre and the Cinema. The Cinema is more democratic, whereas, theatre is authoritative, almost dictatorial. The Director is the dictator. Not only as per auteur theory, wherein director is the author, but actually, director is authoritarian, even in the sense of someone demanding obedience (here, not political). The cinema is collective work. The camera-man, the editor, the sound composure and other crew members can help director and also actor in highlighting the better part and hiding the weakness of the acting / performance. There is no need of strict obedience or military sort of discipline in shooting films. Anything can be re-shoot. The finished product can be changed.
The theatre does not allow this freedom. Even a slight weakness in voice modulation or body gesture is, strictly, not permitted. One has to overcome all sorts of weaknesses before final show. No changes are possible in final performance which happens before live audience. The discipline and obedience to Director, almost the sort of followed by soldiers is demanded in theatre. 

Art Vs Family

This is yet another interesting theme in the play. Now-a-days, there is lots of talk about balance between work life and family life / personal life. The protagonist, the Director, has sacrificed the joys of family life on the alter of theatre. His son almost hated him for not paying enough attention to his career or higher studies. The son's reaction turns out to be nemesis in the play. It is the son to urges one of the best actors of the theatre group to leave his father, expecting that this may turn father towards family. The father was more of Director. He never returned home from theatre.
In is universally acknowledged that the man in pursuit of success or passionate about Art or in quest of Spirituality or having higher goals for the better of society and humanity, must be in want of family grace and happiness. Both is not possible. The balance between these two lives only turns human beings to be satisfied with mediocrity. One can be 'Average' in both - the family as well as in work. Cannot excel in any. Why do this average or mediocre life is projected as something good and valuable. The play ends with the regret for the protagonist and he craves to go back to home. This is rather regressive. This turns great man potential humans into mediocre or average. One should always remember that Buddha, Gandhi, Swami Vivekananda and the likes never went back to their homes. They lived . . . . and died for larger goals in life.
It seems that this idea of balance is the product of capitalist culture wherein the concept of 'work-more-and-sincerely-during-working-hours-so-that-you-can-go-home-and-enjoy-life-with-family is insepted. So that they may not work late hours and ask more wages for extra time. It saves money as well work gets done in due time. The corporates keep laddus in both hands. They kill two birds with one stone - एक तीर से दो शिकार.
If such a balance is not good for teachers, who live a rather leisure life, how can it be possible for those who are in pursuit of creative geniousness.
The play should have shown the Director happy and satisfied in his lonesomeness, celebrating solitude, rather than regretting and desiring for family life. Come what may, the Show Must Go On!

The Play about the Play

There is reference to 'Method Acting' and Stanislavski's system. We understand that the play wanted to say that the Digdarshak, the protagonist has lived what he was doing. Method Acting is not about 'art of representation'  but 'art of experiencing'. The play successfully represents the experience of the protagonist. Method acting is painful. It demands the actor to live in the character, days and nights. The actor is supposed to be evaporated like dew drop in the cloud of character. This is yet times harmful to the actor. It becomes difficult to come out of character even after the play. The protagonist of the play is suffering from these symptoms of Method Acting. There should have been a few more lines about this - but as it is said that true art lies in subtlety, the play achieves greater heights by not 'talking' but 'showing' it in action.
This play falls under the genre of the 'art about the art'. Luigi Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author' or 'Hamlet's scene where Hamlet guides actors about acting are examples of this genre. In such genres, the art itself becomes the criticism. The thin line between the creative writing and critical is blurred in such forms. The audience are enriched with both the aesthetic beauty / delight of an art and also learn how to appreciate art. 

Künstlerroman Vs Bildungsroman

Künstlerroman (German: “artist’s novel”), class of Bildungsroman, or apprenticeship novel, that deals with the youth and development of an individual who becomes—or is on the threshold of becoming—a painter, musician, or poet. The classic example is James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man(1916). The type originated in the period of German Romanticism with Ludwig Tieck’s Franz Sternbalds Wanderungen (1798; “Franz Sternbald’s Wanderings”). Later examples are Knut Hamsun’s Hunger (1890) and Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward, Angel (1929). Unlike many Bildungsroman, where the hero often dreams of becoming a great artist but settles for being a mere useful citizen, the Künstlerroman usually ends on a note of arrogant rejection of the commonplace life. (From Encyclopædia Britannica   https://www.britannica.com/art/Kunstlerroman).

This play has both these trajectories. The story of the Director was highly potential to be Kunstlerroman where he ends with arrogant rejection of the cinema life. However, the way he compromises is one of the weakest point in this trajectory. He should not have compromised. Uncompromising theatre director should have given greater heights to this play and his character.  The story of the Actor is that of Bildungsroman where he settles for being a mere useful Bollywood actor. 


I am neither trained actor nor an authority to comment on the acting. These are observations based on impressionistic criticism. The impressions left on my psyche of the two actors is what i try to express. I do not want to be judgmental. However, i cannot feel the shiver or tremble of an old man, who is helpless and vulnerable, in the voice modulation of the Director, the protagonist. The young Actor was able to move swiftly in his role. The point that i want to make will be clear if you compare the same song sung by a rather young Shankar Mahadevan and old Santosh Anand. Listen - and feel the shiver in voice modulation of old Santosh Anand. This was missing in the acting of the Director!
Also concentrate on the lyrics. There is fascinating parallel with the theme of the play -
दो पल के जीवन से एक उम्र चुरानी है ;

ज़िंदगी और कुछ भी नहीं, तेरी मेरी कहानी है।
घर फूँक दिया हमने, अब राख उठानी है;
ज़िंदगी और...... just awesome...

यह बेमिसाल है।

*तुम साथ न दो अपना*
*चलना हमे आता है।*
*हर आग से वाकिफ हु*
*जलना मुझे आता है।*

*ताब्दीर के हाथों से तकदीर बनानी है*

जिंदगी और कुछ भी नही
*टेढ़ी मेढ़ी कहानी है।* (my addition).


Final Verdict

This is the play which is strongly recommended to be watched. Congratulations to Writer Priyam Jani and director Rishit Jhaveri for this amazing experience. The play engrossed so deeply that the audience craved for the play to go on and on. The play ended with a hunger among the audience to want something more! The play took some time (10 minutes or so) to build an environment. But once it created an aura, it has magical sway. It engulfs. The play ends but the thoughts clicked by the play does not go out of us. It keeps hovering and buzzing like a bee in a bonnet.

Want to watch the play?

Here it is . . .

Friday 4 August 2017

Yugpurush - the Play

The Banner of the Play:

Short Documentaries on the Play and the Person - Shrimad Rajchandra

The Official Website:


Shrimad Rajchandraji is the epitome of an intense and incessant pursuit of spirituality. Shrimadji was born on the auspicious day of Kartik Purnima on 9th November, 1867 in Vavania, Gujarat. A perfect blend of pure knowledge, selfless devotion, and complete detachment, Shrimadji attained self-realisation at the age of 23. He spent months in seclusion, absorbed in the ecstasy of the Self. His compassion for the world flowed in the form of Shri Atmasiddhi Shastra, a masterpiece in philosophical literature. On Chaitra Vad Pancham, 9th April 1901, at the age of 33, Shrimadji left His mortal body in Rajkot. His preachings have been published in an invaluable volume 'Shrimad Rajchandra', which continues to quench the thirst of true seekers. Through ashrams, temples, and institutions dedicated to Shrimadji around the world, lakhs of devotees are benefiting from His teachings and progressing on the spiritual path. (From www.yugpurush.org)

Responses of Students and Educationists:


The play is an excellent piece of art. One cannot find a space in any of the parts of the play and suggest any changes to make it better than this. The acting of all the actors is marvelous. The plot unfolds in very gripping way. The flashback technique and the frame within the frame adds beauty and harmoniously binds events from the life of Shrimad Rajchandra and Mahatma Gandhi.The character of Shrimad Rajchandra and Mahatma Gandhi are very well outlined.

 The dialogues (in Gujarati) are very apt. The diction preserves the auro of spirituality which is the central thought of the play. The central thought - the man who lived briefly on the Earth was so potential that he inspired Mahatma Gandhi who later on inspired innumerable world leaders and revolutions with the ideas of Ahimsa, non-violence which he got from his brief contact with Shrimad Rajchandra. The music of Sachin-Jigar is excellent. The title song is very soothing and appeals poignantly to the spiritual self. The spectacle is just amazing. The swiftness with which the setting changes, the use of light and shades, the props - everything is out of this world. The play should be watched, if not for spiritual legacy of Mahatma Gandhi, for the spectacle it creates on the stage.

The Critique:

However, the play also arouses twitchy and fidgety sentiments. When watched purely from the perspective of an art, we find that there is too much of goody- goody, sweety-sweety spiritual aura aroung both these protagonist - Shrimad Rajchandra and Mahatma Gandhi. With absolutely no gray shade in the character of Rajchandra, the play turns out to be Morality play of the Dark Ages and protagonist, personification if moral spirituality. It is not possible that somebody can be out and out good. It is not possible that a person do not make anybody unhappy or jealous or . . . enemy. There were many who hated Mahatma. Didn't anybody disliked Rajchandraji? Where is that gray shade which make us all human beings?
The excellent artistic endeavor in acting, spectacle, and music is lost to too much of moralizing. The fine balance, which literary critics down the centuries from Greeks to the Vedic times maintained, between the aesthetic beauty and moralizing instruction is, more-soever, inclined towards moralizing. The art has desperately suffered because of this inclination.

Final Verdict: