Remember Greta Thunberg? The gritty teenager first took on Swedish lawmakers to force them to take stern action on climate change. Over a period of time, she emerged as the most influential climate activist of this era. Given how little we care about global warming and the sweeping changes in weather conditions, the decision of the children’s wing of the Sukchar Pancham Repertory Theatre to mount a play on Thunberg and her efforts deserves a round of applause.
Titled Ami Greta — Greta Thunberg, this short-length drama was produced virtually during the trying months of the pandemic. It has since travelled to all kinds of, mostly non-proscenium, spaces. The drama was recently staged at the group’s Jalsaghar studio space, a stone’s throw away from Sodepur railway station. The actors, mostly teenagers who are technically and musically supported by senior members, used their body and speech to retell Thunberg’s mission.
The biographical nitty-gritty were adequately researched. The fact that Thunberg suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome, OCD and other ailments and, yet, overcomes the odds to motivate an army of youngsters to spread awareness about the demons of climate crisis gives the narrative an inspirational surge. English extracts from Thunberg’s major speeches gave the production a stamp of authenticity. The eight actors switched roles with ease, from individuals to agitators to reporters, adding a sense of mass mobilisation to fight for a just cause. None really stood out, but their conviction was evident and, thus, commendable.
Unlike other Pancham productions, Ami Greta is less verbose. Credit goes to the director, Maloy Mitra, for crafting an environment-friendly design for his actors. Cleaning mops were employed to perform multiple tasks, including those of microphone stands and hand-held supports for placards that cried “Skolstrejk for Klimatet (School Strike for Climate)”.
The play ends with the actors singing and thumping their feet to “Bella Ciao”. Although the song has attained a cult status these days, repeated usage has taken some sheen off it. Mitra may consider mass songs closer home, aSalil Chowdhury one, for instance.