Pebet (name of a bird, smaller than a sparrow, which has not been seen in many years) is a phunga wari (fireside story), a popular folktale which are told to children by their grandmothers/grandfathers in Manipur. The play Pebet, produced in 1975, directed by the eminent theatre director Kanhailal, uses this folktale to comment on the political and cultural indoctrination of his time as a dramaturgical strategy.

Guarding her brood,Mother Pebet circumvents the predatory attention of a cat by flattering him.She continues to boost his ego till her children are ready to protectthemselves. Once they are grown up, she resists the Cat, who captures theyoungest in her brood. Ultimately, through a clever strategy the mother managedto trick the Cat into freeing her child. The play attempts to igniteconsciousness in theatre by subverting the familiar. The energy, innate theatrical power and resilience ofthe play are what make the play still fresh till today. 

“It seems to me that when we talk of resistance today,our rhetoric has congealed through stereotypes of flags and slogans, statementsand battle cries. From the presence of Sabitri, one learns that it is possibleto resist the most painful oppression of daily life through the spirit andsheer creativity. The act of politics in theatre does not ultimately lie in theassertion of an ideology, but in the very being of the actor which incarnatesresistance. If Pebet is still a forceto reckon with, it is because of the strength of its performance.

-         Rustom Barucha

Date 10/14/2014 Time 19:00 Venue Open Arena, School of Computational & Integrative Sciences, JNU Directed Heisnam Kanhailal