(Last Updated on : 14/03/2012)
Satu Sen was an important technician of Bengali theatre
. This theatre personality was born in 1902. He went to Europe in 1925 to study electrical engineering but, instead, proceeded to New York and joined the American Laboratory Theatre. He nursed his love of theatre there by study, hard work, and an indefatigable will to learn the many aspects of production and direction. He did all these under Richard Boleslavski, who was former associate and disciple of Konstantin Stanislavsky.
Career of Satu Sen
Satu Sen became assistant production manager and assistant technical director of the institute. In his subsequent travels to Europe he met and saw such renowned producers and directors at work as Vsevolod Meyerhold, Max Reinhardt, and Gordon Craig. On his return, he helped in the rescue operation of Sisir Bhaduri
's ill-fated trip to New York. In the process he lost all his hard-earned savings and gaining the displeasure of those who had helped and sustained him during his stay in the USA. Sen came back to India in 1932.
At that time Bengali theatre had begun one of its phases of decline, and the Bengali plays
were not appreciated with full throttle. At the Rungmahal and Natyaniketan playhouses he set about reforming and remodelling production methods and practices which, after Bhaduri's earlier innovations, had lost their drive and shine. He pioneered nearly all aspects of modem stage presentation and most importance was given to lighting. He introduced what can be called psychological lighting, which contributed to the understanding of the actors' states of mind. He used lights of varying intensity from different positions and angles underlining the characters' changing moods, even focusing on zones with no actors. He designed his lighting schemes as aids to the plays' interpretation and progression.
He foresaw that theatrical progress involved compression, which meant cutting down playing time. He anticipated that people would soon become restive at the long hours they had been conditioned to sit and watch. To shorten the duration he used his experience and mechanical inventiveness to introduce the revolving stage in India. This reduced the time consumed in scene changes, besides imparting a flow to the visual aspect. He replicated on stage nature's moods and manifestations, violent or becalming. He introduced several properties and devices that gave a new look to theatre and helped stall, to some extent, declining attendance.
Satu Sen also directed over thirty productions for different companies. Among them some of the notable are Mahanisha i.e. 'Dark Night' in 1933. In this play he first used the revolving stage. His other plays include Siraj-Ud-Daulah
in 1938, Pather Dabi
or 'Claim of the Road' in 1939, and Duipurush or 'Two Men' in 1942, as well as a few films, notably Sarbajanin Bibahotsab or 'Universal Wedding Festival' (1938). This was a farce of multiple play-acting scripted by Sachin Sengupta. In 1958, Sen became the first director of the National School of Drama
Satu Sen died in the year 1978.