The Late Night Play

Jatra (theatre) is a popular folk-theatre form of Bengali theatre, spread throughout most of Bengali speaking areas of the Indian subcontinent, including Bangladesh and Indian states of West Bengal, Bihar, Assam, Orissa and Tripura. As of 2005, there were some 55 troupes based in Calcutta’s old jatra district, Chitpur Road.

The word jatra means journey. It is intrinsically a musical theatre form, which is usually performed at night. The dramatic performance include dramatic monologues, songs and duet dance routines on the folk tunes. Jatra plays are usually performed on stages that are open on all sides in open-air arenas. The cast is predominantly male, whose members also play the female parts. Jatras are often very melodramatic with exaggerated gestures, orations and music being the key element of the jatra.

Make-up and costumes are richly sequined and gaudy for religious and historic jatras. The actors have to patiently sit for hours having their faces painted. The features are exaggerated so that the audience can distinguish them from a distance. This is left to the expertise of the make-up man who has no formal training but experience and constant experimenting make him a skilled artist in his own right. The art of make up can be likened to the long process in Kathalkali but the makeup used by Jatra actors is awesome and powerful but not sophisticated and stylized as in Kathalkali. All kinds of paints ranging from grease, earthen colours, chemical colours, white lead, collyrium and red paint are used.The demons are particularly fearsome with teeth painted on the upper lips. Jatra actors were traditionally all men. Men used to play the role of women. Female impersonation was another feature of traditional Jatras. Men were fully equipped to play the female role. Male actors were trained to speak in a falsetto without sounding harsh. Today although women are accepted, but when a man acts as a woman it becomes art. Also the women find it difficult to adjust their  own femininity with the stylized women of the Jatra.

 

  • The Late Night Play
  • The Late Night Play
  • The Late Night Play
  • The Late Night Play
  • The Late Night Play
  • The Late Night Play
  • The Late Night Play
  • The Late Night Play
  • The Late Night Play
  • The Late Night Play
  • The Late Night Play