Our Dream. Our Theater.
“The Theater is the only institution in the world, which has been dying for 4,000 years and has never succumbed. It requires tough and devoted people to keep it alive.” – John Steinbeck
And The Hypokrites is a band of such tough and devoted individuals brought together by the common goal of keeping this magnificent art form alive and thriving. The group, having its members from all over Kolkata and beyond, believes in the youth power and to have confidence in themselves. It is something, which has helped them emerge as one of the major forces of the Bengali youth theatre rejuvenation. Taking theater to the masses are the HypoKrites – advancing with their Dream, their Theatre.
How it all began…
The journey began way back in 2008, when a group of young theatre enthusiasts became frustrated looking for platforms to showcase their talent and love for the performing arts. The result: The HypoKrites was born. Though called ‘Shada’ for the first year of its existence, the name Hypokrites (Origin Greek, meaning; Actor) was adopted only a year later (2009). From then on, there has been no looking back. What started as a small college-level theatre group with just six founding members has emerged as one of Kolkata’s biggest youth groups engaged in theatre. with more than two score members, ranging from young college students to older theatre enthusiasts and performing artistes, HypoKrites now is a force to reckon with in Kolkata’s youth theatre scenario.
Originating from within the premises of Ashutosh College, Kolkata, with just 6 founding members; Anubhav Dasgupta, Arnab Basu, Adrija Dey, Nishant Chinkwani,Santhanm Srinivasan Iyer ( EPR Iyer) and Subhojit Jamai Pramanik, the group has recruited several talented young actors, directors, writers, stage technicians, musicians, dancers and other performing artistes, all tied together by their love for theater. Over the last 5 years, the Hypokrites has performed around 20 short and full length plays and has created a loving and devoted fan base among Kolkata’s youth.
The first major turning point in the career of the Hypokrites was the organization of “Porjash” in the year 2009 itself. Porjash is a one of its kind theater festival organized annually by the group where we showcase some our own newest productions, as well as give other youth theater groups a platform to display their talent and love for the art. Over the years, Porjash has become a great success with Porjash 4 (2012) being the biggest youth theater festival in Kolkata.
The second major turning point came in 2010 when The Hypokrites swept all the major awards in the prestigious “Abhinaya 2010” an annual national level drama competition held by the Jain University in Bangalore. The Hypokrites bagged Best Play, (Chairs) Best Actor, (Arnab Basu) and Best Director (Asijit Dutta) with its acclaimed adaptation of Eugene Ionesesco’s play The Chairs. This prestigious win proved to be a major turning point for the Hypokrites and put the group in the proverbial spotlight. And as has been said before, there really has been no looking back for us.
Back to the present!
How it works..
The main objective of the group is bringing new kinds of theater to the masses and popularizing theater as a culture among people, especially the youth. Through our theater, we try to portray our views on several social and pressing issues, express our ideals or even our whims and fancies using the most resourceful and creative mediums of art. Another objective of the Hypokrites is to give the youth a platform to exercise their love for theater as well. We not only recruit theater lovers but also help other new groups in the cities to the fullest of our capabilities. In fact, Porjash has been responsible for the first showcase of several of the cities now popular youth theater groups. The idea is to make theater a part of active everyday culture. Bringing something new to the table has always been a priority. Shocking the audience with what you show on stage is always a win for any good play. And The Hypokrites has repeatedly tried to bring something new to shock and amaze the audience with every new production. Another aspect that is focused on is to adapt works written by prestigious and talented authors and playwrights across the world and throughout the ages, and produce it for the average Kolkata theater buff.
We, The Hypokrites believe that art is for everybody and that a theater group, hence, should be adept at making plays for everybody. Our work has not been limited to any particular language, genre or form.
Language – The Hypokrites has successfully staged plays in all three languages, Hindi (Orange Squash) English (Chairs, God’s Toilet) and Bangla ( Conditions Apply, Amra Bangali Jati). Multilingual plays ( In love? Humpty Dumpty) as well as silent plays (No Smoking, Black and White) have also been successfully staged.
Form – The Hypokrites is not limited to just the stage. We believe that good theater can be performed anywhere. That is why the Hypokrites has popular plays in all forms such as Proscenium Theater, street plays, as well as intimate theater. The group has performed several street plays (Black and White) and has been the host of another annual event “Without the Curtains” where plays are conducted in an intimate space (Shopno, Bhalo). The adeptness with space-oriented theater, in fact is one of the best features of The Hypokrites.
Genre – Our work has not been bound to any one particular genre either. The Hypokrites has produced plays in the following genres
Absurdist or “Theater of the Absurd” (Chairs, God’s Toilet)
Mainstream theater (Conditions Apply, Orange Squash, In Love?)
Message oriented plays (Media, Youth and Voting, Amra Bangali Jati)
Adaptations (Chairs, other upcoming projects)
Musicals (Amra Bangali Jati)
Silent Plays (No Smoking, Black and White).
We believe theater has a universal language and feel and that restricting it within the limitations of a particular genre, form or language just takes away the essence of quality theater. More and more expansion into newer fields is needed.
Day to day
The Hypokrites has over 50 members, all of whom are actively involved in the day to day workings of the Hypokrites.
Porjash – celebrating theater
“Porjash”, Hypokrites’ most appreciated and ambitious endeavor till date had its inception in 2009 itself when the group decided to host a theater festival. The idea was to make a theater festival feel like a real festival. Porjash is an all day event, and a celebration of theater! Over the years, it has grown into an annual bonanza where theater enthusiasts get a day to celebrate theater and all its aspects! Porjash, essentially meaning reshaping the old in a new way, offered groups a forum, a platform to perform and showcase their talent. Performing at the theater festival organized by Hypokrites, many of the groups performing for the first time ever gave a big boost to their passion and most of them such as the ever popular Kolkata RomRoma, Mad About Drama (M.A.D), Notice Board, Oikyo, Artists Out Loud and — are independent youth theater groups themselves now. We feel so proud! The first Porjash was held, hoping to bring a substantial shift in the theatrical circuit. Held in the Ashutosh Memorial Hall on the 19th September, 2009, Porjash was an instant hit with the college goers and other theater lovers, thus prompting the group to shift the venue to a bigger base in the following years.
Porjash 2 was held in Gyan Manch on 27th December 2010. Inaugurated by renowned theatre persona Debesh Chattopadhay, Porjash 2 also turned out to be a success story with 5 plays being staged under one ticket. But the fact that differentiated Porjash from other theatre festivals held across the city is the fact that it became a platform for promoting Youth Theater. Porjash became the platform for generation next to showcase their intense vigor through and about their art.
However it was at Porjash 3 that the festival got rechristened as “ Kolkata’s Biggest Annual Youth Theatre Festival.”. Kolkata theater circuit thus witnessed a proud day with over 650 tickets sold as each of the 6 productions staged walked away with applause and recognition. Porjash thus marked a new and extremely popular chapter on theater especially for the youth of the city.
Porjash 4 not only lived up to the name of its successful predecessors but also was a major milestone for the Porjash franchise. All the productions staged got tremendous response as it found an instant connect with the youth base of the city.
Thus Porjash, as it grows old every year, takes a step forward towards realization of a dream of bringing forth a change both societal and internal, and very personal to each of us through theater. With every Porjash a dream gains more ground. With every Porjash, Hypokrites gets closer to realizing our dream, our theater.