Bhubaneswar Buzz

Featuring Arjun Samantaray : The one man theater artist driving social message across Interior villages of Odisha through his plays

Name : Arjun Samantaray

Occupation : Only theatre

Name of theatre institution : Kathakara

Why this weakness for theatre?

I have been associated with theatre from the seventh grade, when I used to relish the plays of the iconic Annapurna-B. Since then, theatre has become not just a weakness, but a way of life.

Why do you love theatre?

My love for theatre is unconditional. If I had reasons, would it be called love? I strongly believe in the fact that I cannot change the world with my theatre. If Mahabharata, Ramayana and Bible could not move this mountain of worldly behaviour, trying to change everything with one play seems to be stupidity. I do believe that a play has a life of its own though; it lives for a short while, like a flickering lamp. For the short duration that the lamp is glowing though, some people do feel the light.

Can you tell us about one of your plays?

I wrote down on a single page my play ‘Ichha’ 7 or 8 years ago. That is what I perform to this date. I have also penned down a few more plays, but haven’t named them as of now. Apart from this, I have written some 20 short stories myself.

Who inspired you?

I do not have one inspiration. I believe that not keeping any one person as my idol has prevented me from becoming an emulator. It has helped develop my own style instead of perfecting another person’s. I feel free to interact with everyone and learn everyone’s ideas though, from a 12-year old kid to an 80-year old woman. I feel there is much to learn from every individual.

How were you trained? Is training important in theatre?

Have you heard of a doctor without training? Similarly, one cannot be an actor or director without training. But there’s a catch; no institution can teach you what art means, or what to do with it.

While performing, how does it feel?

It makes me feel alive. It is what I live for.

Any awards?

People love my plays. That I feel is the greatest award. Once a lady, after watching one of my shows gave me a polythene of pickles and said “This is all I can give you. Keep this.” These moments are far more rewarding than most tangible awards. On another occasion, a little girl gave me five coins that she had kept under her tiffin box. She said “Keep this, bhaiya! I loved your play”. It was invaluable.

What plays do you do and where?

As I have said before, my play is named ‘Ichha’. I do shows in school and villages. I have performed in over 50 villages and 70 schools in the interiors of Odisha and beyond the state.

What do you wish to achieve with all of this?

I get this question from village teachers all the time. If even one child imbibes the importance of education and strives to fulfil his dream, considering it possible, not something unachievable, then I shall consider my work a success.