This is the second in a series of essays documenting the REQUEST CONCERT PROJECT conceived and directed by Rustom Bharucha and Manual Lutgenhorst. The project involves the adaptation and staging of Franz Xaver Kroetz's Request Concert in approximately nine Asian cities over a period of three years. Each production will be rooted in the indigenous cultural context of the individual city; it will be performed by an actress belonging to the city, who will shape Kroetz's text according to her own needs and tensions, her own sense of history.
Totally wordless, Kroetz's monodrama focuses on one evening in the life of a working woman. She comes home from work, goes through her daily routine, and commits suicide. If the “explosive energy” of this action could be used by oppressed people against society rather than themselves, Kroetz believes that we would have a “revolutionary situation.”
So far the play has been staged in Calcutta with Usha Ganguli playing the life of a typically middle-class Bengali woman who works as a clerk in a government office. All references to Joya Sen in this essay refer to the character played by Usha. In Madras, Kroetz's silent text was danced by Chandralekha, who used the rarefied gestures and symbols of Bharat Natyam to interpret the mechanization and banality depicted in the play. The following is an account of the Bombay production, where the role of the woman was played by Sulabha Deshpande.