From operation theatre to stage: Breast cancer survivor tells her tale

An empty side. Although that's what Ek Rikami Baju to be staged at theatre fest Arpan 2013 literally translates into, there is more to it than the loss of the left breast of protagonist Ritu to a malignant tumour. It describes the emptiness that has encompassed her life after her surgery and how she deals with it.

The play, Ek Rikam i Baju, an adaption of British playwright Louise Page's Tissue written in 1978, is among plays, like The Last Colour and Andharach Bet, that will be performed as part of Arpan-2013 on March 16-17 at Bharat Natya Mandir in the city.

Talking about how Ek Rikami Baju that had won the State Theatre Competition-2012, carries a strong message, director Shrikant Bhide says, "There is hardly any awareness about breast cancer in the country. We hope the play raises awareness."

There are 20 characters in Ek Rikami Baju but just four actors to portray all, including the protagonist. "This was a biggest challenge for me. There are 45 scenes of different shades; with slight transformation, the characters had to perform in a different zone, for a different scenes," says Bhide.

Ek Rikami Baju was translated into Marathi by Pradeep Vaidya, who has also done the lights and music. While the lead, Ritu, is being played by Neha Pankar, the other characters are being essayed by Abhishek Deshmukh, Dikhsha Ketkar and Adhish Paigude.

For two months, the team met regularly and instead of sticking to a set pattern and script, worked on experimentation and improvisation.

To understand the gravity of the disease, the team met a few doctors and NGOs, too. "For each scene, we came up with 4-5 possibilities portrayal. I didn't want to impose my interpretation on the actors. Besides, since originally the play was performed for a British audience we had to make sure our portrayal suited a Marathi audience," adds Bhide, who founded the Dhyaas Theatre Group in 2008.

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