Bonsai- A play with another aspect


AR Luwang
Bonsai is one of the most decorative words for Bonsai gardener. Now-a-days, many a people take interest in Bonsai gardening. And many die hard Bonsai gardeners consider Bonsai as a very beautiful art form which can be expressed in the finest form. It has a long history of more than two thousand years originating from China. Bonsai is one the most popular gardenings in Japan. Now-a-days, Bonsai gardening is evolving more as an art form rather than simple gardening in many parts of the world. Nevertheless, Bonsai gardening is an art form for many affluent societies.
Khangjeng Repertory Theatre’s director, Prasanta Moirangthem and playwright Rajmani Ayekpam search another aspect of Bonsai in their latest play. Premier show of ‘Bonsai’ play was presented by Khangjeng Repertory theatre on Sunday, the 17th March, 2024 in the auditorium of Jawaharlal Nehru Manipur Dance Akademi, Imphal. The production was done under the financial assistance of Ministry of Culture, Government of India, 2022-23. Due to the two, director and playwright tried to produce another meaning of Bonsai other than as a traditional art form.
Many Bonsai gardeners mostly rich people prepare Bonsai gardening as ornamental or decorative plants. Even many people spend huge amount of money and time for preparing a Bonsai plant. Moreover, it’s beautiful to look at. But, actually it’s disfigured plant and a sin to nature. For example, a banyan tree is a big tree if it grows in the open space. It can give many valuable things to mankind like, clean air like oxygen, shade and others. But, it becomes a two-three tall plant after bonsai gardening. Now, it becomes a disfigured tree and a property of someone else. Then, it loses all its valuable properties of being a big tree. In this condition, some environmentalist poet may lament over the fate of a Bonsai tree.
‘Save environment, save our future’ is becoming the slogan of the mankind day by day. Mankind of this planet worry over the degrading of our environment. So, ‘World Environment Day’ is being observed on June 5 every year across the globe. Without good environment, our future is in dark. Plant a tree is becoming the most popular slogan of the time.
Playwright and director of the newly premiered play ‘Bonsai’ considers though Bonsai is an art form it’s a sin to nature. To grow plants and trees in the open space freely is the best effort to be presented by mankind. On the other hand, trees and plants play an important role not only to give valuable things to mankind but also play an important role of religious and social life of the society. In our society, many big trees considered as a sacred tree and performed many rite and ritual under the tree to ease from wrath of angry Gods. ‘Pangong’, an indigenous tree, substituted the dead body of someone who died in mysterious circumstances without finding the dead body in the last rite of deceased person.
The cast and credits of newly premiered play ‘Bonsai’ are–Dhanapati (Bonsai lairembi), Ibochouba (Kiyobrata), Lanchenbi (Manishang), Kenedy (Shital), Megharaj (Hichaba), male chorus–Megharaj, Kenedy, Ricky, female chorus–Lanchenbi, Mangalleima Chanu, Ayingbi, Karina, Abenao and Rebika etc. On the credit lines–Rahul (light), Romen (music), Nilachandra Sharma (music assistant), Metro Sound, Sagolband (sound), Ragini (make-up), Tyson (documentation), Megharaj (set), Kishorchand (EKiSS) (props/still), Aka vision (video), Kiyobarta & Kenedy (stage manager), Dhanapati (cocume/production manager), Rajmani Ayekp (script), Prasanta Moirangthem (Concept/design & direction) & Khangjeng Repertory Theatre, Impahl East (production).
The play begins with some children playing under the shade of a big tree. Then, seven lairembi including Bonsai lairembi are playing happily in the open space. Suddenly, a Hingchaba (devil) comes out and begins to chase those lairembi and torture them. Even, Hingchaba began to chop those seven lairembi which represent nature God. The seven lairembi cry with agony and disappear from the scene. In the next scene, two youths come to Ibochouba’s garden which display many beautiful bonsai trees. The two youths are attracted to Ibochouba’s bonsai plants and want to buy the beautifully prepared the banyan bonsai tree. They couldn’t buy the bonsai banyan as they couldn’t afford the high price tag.
In the next scene, Shital, Ibochouba’s son and Manishang Ibochouba’s wife argue with Ibouchaba over the ill fate of their family. They blame Ibochouba for their poor family condition as the condition is attributed to curse of the bonsai trees, prepared by him. Then, Ibochouba caught in myriad of confusion. In his dream, Ibochouba encounter Bonsai lairembi and had an argument. Bonsai lairembi blame Ibochouba for making the environment bad due to his bonsai gardening. The importance of big plants and trees are there so much in the human world too. Big trees give clean oxygen, shade to take rest by human beings and animals, a sacred place to worship like Shani Puja to ease from the wrath of evil deity and even the great Gautama Budha got his salvation/enlightenment under the big tree at Budhagaya. Ibochouba got more confused and fell down on the ground.
In the last scene, Ibochouba bring the bonsai trees in the open space. He bow down to those bonsai trees and worships them. Then bonsai trees grow in the open space as big trees. The seven bonsai lairembi including Bonsai lairembi dance happily in the open space. That is the end of the play.
The director of the play Prasanta carefully handled both conventional style of play and experimental style of play. Such attempt can attract the attention of the audience. Many audiences of conventional style of play felt unease when they witness the experimental style of play.  The success of Prasanta was that the play ‘Bonsai’ can attract both sides of the audiences. Though participating artistes except few ones were new comers in the theatre but can deliver good performance. The technical sides was one the reasons to succeed this side.
At the end, audiences are waiting for more many plays from Prasanta and company.