Subha, a devised theatrical creation based on Rabindranath Tagore’s short story, “Subha.”
Subha is the story of a young girl who cannot speak. She is marginalized by her family and society, but she connects with nature – the river, the green grass, tiny drops of water – at a very profound and intimate level. When the news of her potential marriage and move to the city is announced, Subha feels lost.
When I first read Tagore’s short story “Subha” I thought of a painting – a painting with bright greens and blues. A series of images flashed before me. They were rhythmically moving.
We – the cast and crew – kept the motif of creating images as we embarked on a five month long process of devising the play Subha. As we experimented with movement and stillness, the performers came up with beautiful compositions. The music directors, Manoj Alawathukotuwa and Vinusha Wijewickrama, worked along with the performers to create sounds, rhythms, and silences that enhanced and interacted with the movement. In the process, we incorporated video images to bring in another layer of significance.
We, as a team, wanted to capture Tagore’s poetry, his vision of nature. We wanted to capture the sensitive way in which he had portrayed Subhashini, the young girl who was marginalized by her family and society as a result of her inability to speak. Tagore shows that she indeed speaks with the world around her, but not with the language we know. The poems from Gitanjali further enabled us to illustrate the reality that Subha inhabits, a reality which others do not perceive. Tagore shows through Subha that the world is bigger than us.
Tagore’s conception of nature is essential today where the environment is destroyed ruthlessly. We have dulled our senses in a fast moving world. Rarely do we stop to contemplate “the crying of the birds and rustle of trees,” and the “murmur and movement of Nature” (“Subha”). In fact, Tagore’s “Subha” and Gitanjali remind us of the necessity of looking at the world with different eyes.
— Kanchuka Dharmasiri
Nadeeshani de Soysa