Dario Fo & Franca Rame’s THE OPEN COUPLE Director: Sara Zaker


Playwright: Dario Fo & Franca Rame

Director: Sara Zaker

Group: Nagorik Natya Sampradaya, Bangladesh

Language: Bengali

Duration: 1 hr

The Play

The Open Couple, written by Dario Fo and Franca Rame, and adapted by Sara Zaker, is the story of a couple where the husband is having multiple affairs. The wife is going crazy and wants to kill herself each time she discovers her husband’s latest affair with yet another woman. As the play proceeds the husband convinces his wife to accept the concept of an ‘open relationship’. As the story moves on the husband discovers that the wife too has fallen in love with another man. Seeing the wife so happy and in control, makes him very angry and jealous. Now, the husband behaves in the same manner as his wife earlier did i.e. trying to jump off the window of a four-storied building, attempting to shoot himself with a revolver etc. The wife, in turn, now pacifies him and urges him to have a dialogue in exactly the same way he had urged her when she was going crazy. 

Director’s Note

I adapted The Open Couple when my family was going through a crisis. My husband was detected with stomach cancer and was treated for more than six months in a foreign land. I took my mind away from all the side effects he had due to chemotherapy by working on this play. Adapting this play gave me relief from stress. I am primarily a performer so writing feeds the actor in me. Even though it was a trying time for the family, I liked to imagine (as a director) that one day this performance would see the light on stage. Also, as an observer of the society and as an actor-director, I felt it was time we articulated the polygamous relationship that permeates all levels of society.

The Director

Sara Zaker has been active on the stage since 1973 as an actress. She belongs to Nagorik Natya Sampradaya, the foremost theatre group of Bangladesh. She was trained at the British Theater Institute in 1981 for Direction. Some of the noteworthy plays directed by her are Ariel Dorfman’s Death and the Maiden, Anton Chekhov’s The Sea Gull, and Dario Fo and Franca Rame’s The Open Couple. She is the recipient of Bangladesh’s second highest civilian award Ekushey Padak.

The Playwright

Dario Fo was an Italian actor, playwright, comedian, singer, theatre director, stage designer, songwriter, painter and political campaigner. The Virtuous Burglar, Archangels Don’t Play Pinball, Mistero Buffo, Accidental Death of an Anarchist, Can’t Play! Won’t Pay!, Trumpets and Raspberries, Elizabeth: Almost by Chance a Woman, The Pope and the Witch are some of his popular plays. In 1997, Dario Fo received the Noble Prize in Literature.
Franca Rame was an Italian theatre actress, playwright and political activist. She was married to Dario Fo who dedicated his Noble Prize to her. In the 1970s, Rame began writing plays of her own, such as Grasso e Bello! and Tutta Casa.

The Group

Nagorik was established in 1968. It won recognition by the Shilpokala Academy and four of its leading actors Aly Zaker, Ataur Rahman, Abul Hayat and Sara Zaker won the second highest National Award Ekushay Padak for their contribution to theatre. Another member of the group, the present honorable minister for culture Asaduzzaman Noor has been awarded the highest National Award the Shadhinata Padak.

Cast & Credits

On Stage: Sara Zaker, Ziaul Hasan

Team Leader: Aly Zaker

Light Designer: Md. Nasirul Haque

Light Technician: Mir Badal Rahman

Sound Controller &Production In-Charge: Fakhruzzaman Choudhury

Production Assistant: Nima Rahman

Subtitles: Sara Zaker

Assistant: Ruhe Tamanna Labonyo

Stage Manager: Md. Mahfuzur Rahman

Assistant: Mishu Nasreen

Playwright: Dario Fo & Franca Rame

Director: Sara Zaker

Manohar Khushalani

Manohar Khushalani

Prof. Manohar Khushalani is a former Visiting Faculty at Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi. The courses he taught were: Animation & Graphics, Non-Linear Editing for Film and Radio and Theatre Appreciation.  He has won a total of nine Excellence in Teaching awards for all the courses he has taught at IIITD Earlier he retired from Government of India as Director Environment Management, Central Water Commission and held many senior positions in the Government Based on a Belief that Culture and Environment are the two keys to global sustainability , Manohar Khushalani has launched two portals: A Portal on Environment and Water called One Vorld at url: www.onevorld.org and two Ezines on Culture called Stage Buzz at url: www.stagebuzz.in He has taught extensively in varied subjects such as Dam Safety, Instrumentation, CAD, IT, Animation, Theatre, Newspaper Editing. He has conducted Courses on Environment Management, Water Shed Development, Team Building and Personality Development. He was an Expert Member of Prasar Bharti’s Committee for Grading & Short listing Films for Telecast on all channels of Doordarshan.  He is a Radio Anchor for All India Radio and has moderated several programs for the Rajdhani Channel He is a well-known Theatre Actor/Director and Critic, has been involved in theatre since 1977. He has worked as an actor in over 50 plays with almost every leading director/Actor in the Country including Badal Sircar, Feisal Alkazi, Amal Allana, M.K. Raina, Anuradha Kapoor, Maya Rao, Manohar Singh, Prasanna, Rati Bartholomew and Sushmita Mukherji. He has been active in the social sector as a street theatre activist. As a member of Workshop Theatre, Theatre Union and Prayog, Khushalani has participated in street plays taking up major social issues such as dowry, bride burning, Sati, banned medicinal drugs and communalism. Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Can’t Pay Won’t Pay, both directed by him, received rave notices from critics and audiences alike. Other plays directed by him include Badal Sircar’s, Sagina Mahato and Boris Vian’s Empire Builders for Ruchika Theatre Group. Khushalani has also acted in a few films such as Sudhir Mishra's Hazaron Khwaishen Aisi , Shoojit Sircar’s Madras Café and Pradeep Krishan's Annie Gives Those Ones. He is an Animator & Graphics Designer and has directed a number of documentaries. He also held a number of Honorary positions and was President of North India Films Association, He was the Chairman of  Jury for UGC CEC Educational Films Competition and has been on their Preview Committee since last many years. He was on the preview committee of Door Darshan Channel 3, was a visiting Professor at National School of Drama, New Delhi, and Film & Television Institute of India, Pune, AJKMCRR, Jamia Milia Islamia and Professor in Media at FICT, Delhi  He has judged a large number of Drama Competitions and conducted a number of Theatre / Management Games Workshops with Institutions such as AIIMS, NTPC, CWPRS, NWA, Karve Nari Prakshishan Sansthan, FICT, IIT, MAMC, Gargi College, KNC, Tagore International School and Vivekananda School. He is a Theatre Critic for IIC Diary, has also been a Columnist with Midday and Pioneer Daily and wrote Column's Called Culture Cocktail and Footlights Respectively. He was also the Guest Editor for an issue on Folk Theatre of ICCR Journal Horizons. He has written for Times of Indian, Hindustan Times, Blitz, Hard News, Hindu Business Line, Theatre India & Art Times. He has designed dams and hydraulic structures for the Government. He is a programmer and has developed Engineering design software in Fortran. He is a co-author of Irrigation Practice & Design (Vol 1 to5 - 1500 pages) published by Oxford & IBH and sponsored by National Book Trust. He has been a Director, Environment and Sociology, at the National Water Academy, Khadakwasla and Director, Environment Management Directorate, Central Water Commission and Member Secretary, National Environmental Monitoring Committee for River Valley Projects. He was also Director of Instrumentation Directorate in the Dam Safety Organisation. He was Chief General Manager and Head of Water Resources at Scott Wilson and is an accredited consultant with numerous other organizations He is a Delhi Public School, BITS Pilani, IIT Delhi and FTI Pune Alumini. He was also the President of BITS Pilani Alumni Association, Pune.

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3 Responses

  1. Avatar om says:

    Hello, I am interested in adapting the Open Couple Play in Hindi and would be grateful if you can help me put in touch with Nagorik group and/or Sara Zaker. I can be reached at cinemaismypassion@gmail.com

    • Manohar Khushalani Admin says:

      Thanks Om for showing interest in the article which was based on a press release by the organisers. We are not in touch with the performers. As the report gives very detailed information about the group and the Playwright you will have to approach them directly..”Sara Zaker has been active on the stage since 1973 as an actress. She belongs to Nagorik Natya Sampradaya, the foremost theatre group of Bangladesh.”

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