After its first retreat in November 2009, Off-Kendrik had its second retreat from November 18 to 21, 2011 at the same rented house in Cape Cod. The group’s primary objective this year was to explore possibilities of a future production stemming from Sukumar Ray’s “Ha Ja Ba Ra La”.
The workshop took three forms, albeit with a common goal: characterization. In the first phase, each of seven individuals drew on one character from “Ha Ja Ba Ra La” to improvise in the face of an aggressive interrogation. An “outsider” (i.e. someone not playing any character from the play) intimidated them by asking random, intrusive questions, and each person had to respond immediately with the mannerisms of the specific character from the play that s/he represented. The second exercise, in contrast, was a monolog prepared over a short time. As previously, the delivery was meant to exploit the idiosyncrasies of specific “Ha Ja Ba Ra La” characters, while the contents were the performers’ own. What is more, each performer interacted with an object of personal choice during the monolog, but in a manner incongruent to the basic identity of the object; for instance, while a book was used as a phone in one monolog, a cushion served as a book in another. Also planned over a short time, the third workout was conversational. Each group of two or three players engaged in an absurd exchange for a few minutes, building the conversation around the essential traits of Ray’s characters being portrayed. All of these performances were meticulously photographed and videotaped.
In addition to the above exercises, scenes from Utpal Dutta’s “Ajker Shajahan” and D.L. Roy’s “Shajahan” were read. Finally, Dyuti Mazumdar, the group’s photographer, photographed some of the members in a variety of expressive moments.
In light of these activities, it was decided that more concerted efforts would be made to produce a script with fodder from “Ha Ja Ba Ra La”, and that the reading from scripts of well-known plays would be made into a regular practice at the group’s monthly meetings.