(Last Updated on : 23/07/2009)
Surjit Singh Sethi was a known personality of Punjabi theatre
. His sources of inspiration were Artaud's theatre of cruelty and European Absurdist Theatre. His first publication, a collection of one-act plays titled Parde pichhe or 'Behind the Screen' in 1946 exposed the evils of society through realism. Whereas his next anthology Chalde phirde butt i.e. 'Statues in Motion' in 1958 extended the scope of this mode, his last collection Pebble Beach Te Longguacha or 'Pebble Beach and the Lost Earring' in 1995 was couched in new strategies of composition and performance.
However, Surjit Sethi's major contribution lies in full-length drama. Coffee House and Kachghara or 'Unbaked Pitcher' present social critiques while Kadir Yar features psychological exploration. King, mirza te sapera or 'King, Hero and Snake Charmer' in 1965 examines ennui in Beckettian terms and takes after Waiting for Godot, as three dogs on a rooftop ultimately jump down to death. 'Mard Mard Nahin, Tivin Tivin Nahin' i.e. 'Man Isn't Man, Woman Isn't Woman' in 1969 has people lost in a void from which they have neither the will nor the power to retrieve themselves. In Nangisarak Rat Da Ohla or 'Bare Street Covered by Night' in 1971, old and young generations flaunt the urge to experience the Absurd through illicit sexual indulgence. In Eh Zindgi Hai Dosto or 'This Is Life, Friends' in 1976 characters wear masks to denote deprivation of identity. After participating in dance that lacks design, they display sadism and masochism through beating each other and drawing pleasure from the schizophrenia involved in this type of behaviour. Surjit Singh Sethi died in 1995.
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