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Red Oleanders by Rabindranath Tagore

Produced By: Bengal Foundation of America, New Jersey
Translation and adaptation in English: by Nupur Gangopadhyay Lahiri
Director: Subhasis Das
Production Consultant: Ronobir Lahiri (A young Broadway actor from California)
Web Site:

About the Play

Rabindranath Tagore is considered by many to be the Indian writer who has made the greatest literary impact in both the East and the West. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1913 for his collection of self-translated poems, Gitanjali, (Song Offerings)

Tagore was a prolific writer. He wrote poetry, short stories, novels, essays, memoirs, travelogues, letters, songs, plays and musical dramas. He wrote about sixty theatrical pieces over a span of sixty years. He was also a composer, setting hundreds of poems to music.

Red Oleanders (Rakto Karabi in Bengali) is regarded as one of Tagore's best plays, written at the age of sixty-three. When he wrote the original play in 1924, he envisioned that the Western capitalistic, utilitarian approach to society would eventually destroy universal human values. Vast industrialization throughout the world would result in diminishing human compassion and cause an ecological imbalance. To convey this message he utilized his characters as metaphors of human instincts, such as greed, power and envy, as well as love, trust and sacrifice.

Synopsis of the play

This is the story of Nandini, a beautiful woman who appears at a time of the oppression of humanity by greed and power. The antagonist in the story is the King, who represents enormous authority but barricades himself behind an iron curtain. He transforms a town into a fort and the humans into digging machines who grope in the dark searching for gold. In this soulless mining town, people forget the beauty of nature, the green meadows, the dazzling sunshine, the tenderness and love between humans. Nandini arrives to salvage humanity trapped behind mechanized tyranny. She eventually frees the oppressed souls who are toiling underground, but at a great sacrifice. The story ends in an unexpected climax after Tagore knits an intricate network of sequences that ultimately becomes a parable.

A multicultural cast, crew and musicians work with artistic and music direction by a young Actor/ Director from the west coast. A story written some eighty years ago comes alive on a contemporary stage with brilliant ambience of colors, sounds and music and intense tension that creates an exquisite theatrical experience of excellence.

Director's Note

Red Oleanders (Rabindranath’s“Raktokarabi”) always is a challenge for every director and at the same time an opportunity to find out another layer of Tagore’s philosophy. Every time I look into this play and find a new door opening for me. What fascinates me about Red Oleanders is, it’s abstractness and poetry, which allows your mind to travel across the time and space but at the same time, it is very close to our day-to-day reality. Each Character of Red Oleanders is a shade of a single human character. Various relations among these characters are the reflections of our conflict. In this production we are trying to understand those relations in an abstract imaginary space. With the help of set, light, music and chorus movement we want to create a space, where we can relay on individual audience imagination to extend the visualization beyond its frame.





SATF 2009 will be held at NJPAC, New Jersey on December 12th and 13th 2009



Venue NJPAC – Victoria Theater
12th December 2009

7:45pm - Opening Ceremony
8:30pm - Red Oleanders

13th December 2009

3:15pm - Chehre
5:00pm - Post performance discussion


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