I wonder if you have heard of Jorge Luis Borges? A very famous Argentinian writer. Yes, there were famous pe
I see my letter made it to your newsletter. Do not think I did not catch the undertone of mockery in your li
I wonder if you have heard of Jorge Luis Borges? A very famous Argentinian writer. Yes, there were famous people from Argentina before Lionel Messi. Even if football is your only interest, Diego Maradona came before this chap. But I digress.
Borges once said, “I have always imagined that paradise would be some sort of library”. So, you see, a library is an almost sacred thing. Fire up a search engine and see what some of the great thinkers thought of libraries. I myself would often fantasize about getting locked in a library overnight. I’m a voracious reader before your mind wanders elsewhere.
See I have looked up your “About Us” section, and you all seem young. Artistically oriented, but young all the same, and only one of you looks serious. You probably used libraries to “make out”. Which is why you will never understand the true importance of a great, life-changing library.
Without being vitriolic, I have many bones to pick. Firstly, shame on you for another online library. The ongoing death of the physical reading rooms is on your conscience. Secondly, you have less than 200 plays. Call yourself The Drama Shelf instead. Thirdly, not a single work by William Shakespeare, arguably the greatest playwright of all time. Don’t even get me started on who else is missing. And lastly, who reads these plays anyway? Plays are meant to be watched. And not on a screen, mind you. People blame the pandemic for these new formats, but it's just laziness, and the demise of culture.
Nowadays, you young people turn up to watch theatre in shorts. And send text messages during shows. It used to be an event. We’d wear our finest, and be on our best behavior. We’d hang on to every word uttered by the cast for three hours, sometimes four. Not get shifty in our seats after 60 minutes. Those were the grand old days of bladder control. And we would show up well before time. Not waltz in late (probably in shorts) as if we were doing the art form a favor. But I digress.
Huafrish, my wife, always says I should give people a chance. So, I will. I will check your website (no, not library) again for improvements on July 14, because it is Bastille Day, a very important day in the French Revolution that toppled the monarchy. I can almost see the confused expressions on your young faces. The Bastille was a medieval fortress in Paris, that later became a prison. It isn’t there anymore, but not far from the former site is the Theatre de la Bastille, where back in 1993 I watched a wonderful production of Three Sisters by Anton Chekhov, who isn’t in your “library” either. Unless you’re fanatically pro-Ukraine, the omission is baffling.
I beseech you, get your act together. Playwriting pun not intended.
Concerned and disappointed,
Vistasp (Visty) Colabawalla, theatre aficionado
I see my letter made it to your newsletter. Do not think I did not catch the undertone of mockery in your little note about my letter. But my grandfather always said that true character comes from accepting your foibles. In the 16th century, the French origin of this word – feble - meant “weak point of a sword’s blade”. Coincidentally‘feeble’ is derived from the same French word, which is now obsolete. But I digress.
I did my due diligence, and perhaps understood better what your online initiative is all about. One could say that your communication wasn’t clear, but I’d rather not point fingers. Also, I see that Shakespeare has earned his rightful place on your website, so Huafrish, my wife, feels it is best we bury the hatchet.
I did browse through your catalogue (you’re many plays away from qualifying as a library), and discovered you had one Arabic play. Ammi Jaan. My interest was piqued, but when I opened it, it was a Kannada play. If it had been a Malayalam play, and if I was feeling particularly charitable, I would have said perhaps this had to do with Kerala’s strong ties with Gulf. And that would have been a stretch. So perhaps you would care to explain this… foible.
I then came across a Bengali play, which was indeed in Bengali, called Bishoyta Chintar. It’s something to worry about. Not the play. That’s what the title means. Got that from my old college buddy Tataghata Chakraborty, who teaches Economics in Wharton, and plays the guitar wonderfully. Many a Caucasian woman has been seduced by his strumming and his impeccable fried fish recipe. But I digress.
This Bengali play is an adaptation of Mary Chase’s Pulitzer-winning play “Harvey”. Satyajit Ray once adapted an Ibsen play into a movie, so I assume adapting plays into Bengali is a legitimate process. Harvey, an immensely successful play about a man and his imaginary pooka friend – a six-and-a-half-foot tall rabbit, if you please -also became an immensely successful movie starring James Stewart. If you young Turks don’t know who James Stewart is, look him up, and for God’s sake, watch one of his films. He did quite a few movies based on plays, including ‘Bell, Book, and Candle’, ‘Rope’, and ‘You Can’t Take It With You’. If you need more recommendations, reach out to me in your newsletter, sans sarcasm.
These days, a lot of the new plays I watch on my foreign travels are about consent (or the lack of it), feminism, or mental health. These are probably trending topics. Harvey dealt with mental health long before it was fashionable. I hope the adaptation does justice. I’ve sent the link to Tathagatha to check.
Basically, folks at TDL, I’m watching you. Think of me as a cultural auditor.
Vistasp (Visty) Colabawalla