An Unposted Love Letter

Doris Lessing’s writing is profoundly experimental, exploratory in its effort to alter our expectations about life and the range of our consciousness. She possesses a unique sensitivity, writing out of her own intense experience, her own subjectivity, but at the same time writing out of the spirit of the times. ‘An Unposted Love Letter” is from a collection of short stories and is structured as a monologue. This particular monologue centres on the search for selfhood in a way to construct ones own vision of reality. This story is set in the green room of a theatre, where an actress reminiscences about her life and in this process also comments on how a conventional society perceives an artist. It explores the phenomena of the unclassified experience, to question the basic assumption of the professional artist from the inside. This story has no beginning, middle or end and is strung together in a complex tapestry of ideas, attitudes and values. Surrounded by the memorabilia of grease paint, mirrors, faded costumes, we have tried to recreate what happens to a performer backstage, before he makes his entry in front of an audience

Review by R. A. Menon: BARING THE SOUL ANEW

The stage is set in a green room, replete with mirrors, bulbs, costume stands and a gossamer background. Amrita Singh enters, with the musicians, the other actors and attendants in tow. She looks heavy, in her layered costume. To the tune of an old cabaret number, she begins a stripping act. Reduced to a white dress, she uses this as a canvas to fill in the colours of her multifaceted existence as an actress. And then she does the same stripping act with her soul while the work goes on in the greenroom, the musicians do their riyaz, the co-actors put on the greasepaint and the attendants ready the costumes. This is Neelam Man Singh Chowdhary’s new venture, An Unposted Love Letter, which is cast in a bilingual monologue.

You can call this a complete Neelam production through the music director BV Karanth, script writer Surji Patar and set designer Sumant Jayakrishnan all pitched in. The play is adapted from a short story by Doris Lessing. It is a soliloquy, a stream of thought, without any linear narrative or situation. It is more about the psyche of an actress and the anguish of any creative person. In a way the whole play is an ongoing process, of dressing and undressing, creating and wiping off, assuming and shedding. “The actress is involved in three processes – she becomes something, then she caricatures what she has become and finally she disassociates herself from the personae.” says Neelam. But why this monologue format, when all her previous productions, have been full of characters? “In the present dim scenario of more expenditure and less sponsorship, it is becoming increasingly difficult to carry on with large cast-oriented vantures. Moreover, I love this kind of personalized story-telling which despite being intimate, relates to everyone.”

ON NEELAM  MAN SINGH’S “AN UNPOSTED LOVE LETTER”

“An Unposted Love Letter” was a monologue that didn’t really let you think it was one…you would never have thought it was one hour of one person talking.

EXPRESS FEATURES, CityExpress, Monday, December 3, 2001

  There has always been  something wonderfully unbound about Punjab and it is so fitting that Neelam Man Singh should have opened The Other Festival…a well done play, technically perfect and held the attention of  the audience.

ELIZABETH ROY, The Hindu, Friday, December 7, 2001

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