Sibo in Supermarket

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About the Play:

Sibo in Supermarket is based on a two-paged short story titled “Supermarket Soliloquy” by Moira Crosbie Lovell. The story is about a woman who has left her homeland, whether by choice or the force of circumstances, and the struggle to reconstruct a semblance of home. In the story the narrator uses a Supermarket for an allegorical exploration of the past. It is in the impersonal environment of the Supermarket that Sibo recognizes what she has lost. Each product that she picks up sets off a series of memories that make connections with what she has left behind. It is the way of a woman, who is struggling to find a space that she can call home in the face of disruptive displacement. In the supermarket she sets herself in two time frames; the time that she left behind and the present. She travels through both of them simultaneously. There are traces of events, people and emotions in Sibo’s mind which she manages to trace on the disinfected floors of the supermarket.

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About the Playwright:

Dr. Surjit Patar is one of the leading poets in India, and in Punjab he enjoys an iconic status. A professor at the Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, he has been honoured with the Sahitya Akademi Award as well as the Bharitya Bhasa Award, Kolkota. He has been associated with ‘The Company’ since 1986.

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A review by Vandana Shukla, The Times of India, November 14, 2003

OF SOME IMAGES AND IMPRESSIONS; Witnessing a play undergoing the process of birth is as engaging as the show itself…particularly when it evolves out of an idea and not a ready script

A super market that evokes…images, impressions and memories! Neelam Mansingh Chowdhry’s theatre group ‘The Company’ is busy exploring these associations for its forthcoming production of Sibo in Supermarket slated for show in February. “This is for the first time that we began a play with just an idea without a script. The script has been evolving over the period with ideas and observations from all involved. As a grid we are using a South African story; other issues evolve around it. Pattarji has come to see the rehearsals six to seven times and every time there is some change brought about in the script. It is still in the process of evolving,” comments Neelam.

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“From a poet they have turned me into a playwright,” jovially says Surjeet Pattar, famous Punjabi poet who has written the script for Sibbo in Supermarket in Punjabi. He sits through the entire rehearsal, watching keenly. “Raman tun ta holi holi character ban gaiyen,” he comments on Sibbo’s character enacted by Ramandeep. The compliments are then followed by discussions on how to bring changes to certain areas where they feel the play grows weak. Sibbo, alias Sebi, is in a Supermarket. There she has been able to recognize what she has lost each product she picks at the parket sets off a series of memories making her realise how she is removed from the space she belonged to…her homeland in Punjab. A supermarket sets her into two time frames, time that she left behind and the present. And she travels though both simmultanteously. “We have only physicalised the past in the play, we deal with it in a non-nostalgic manner,” says Neelam.

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There are traces of time, events, people and emotions in Sibbo’s mind in the clinically spotless environment of a supermarket that wipes off all traces and footmarks. For Sibbo the ecology of mind does not change with changing geographical landscapes. Yet Sibo strives for a change…In a poignantly moving sequence she wriggles out of her painful past moving on wheels of a supermarket cart. She also struggles out of a long enveloping polythene wrap.

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“People have left their homeland in Punjab either due to violence or poverty. In a supermarket in foreign lands they are buried under things. That is why all action is taking place at two different levels in the play,” says Pattar, who is bringing out the dichotomy of their exiled lives with the company. “Don’t children start like this, you do this, I’ll do this and something evolves,” says he about the writing of script. “Ten different ends have been worked out so far,” comments Neelam and the process continues.

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