What would you say to a man who never replies? What would you think about when thinking is the only thing left to do? How would you spend your last days if you were confined to darkness and silence?
‘Condemned’ is the story of a prisoner condemned to death and the faceless warden who watches over him. The piece takes place in the solitary confinement cell that is the prisoner’s home in his last days. Only the prisoner is seen and heard. As in Plato’s cave, the warden’s existence is hinted at, but never truly confirmed. We see his actions, but never the man himself. The warden manipulates the reality of the prisoner, casting shadows across his thoughts, yet he is the only light left in the prisoner’s remaining days.
The story begins with a confession of guilt: ‘I am guilty’. Are these the words of a condescending, egomaniacal, self-centered character or a first step towards self-redemption?
The main character is a host of contradictions, between hope and despair; intellect and emotion; light and shadow. Though he might have been able to escape from his demons when he was free, now he has nowhere to go and must confront the result of both his thoughts and his actions head on.
The result is a journey through the main character’s mind and soul, even while his body remains confined. We join the main character on an exploration of his inner self, aided (hindered?) by the actions of the warden.
Whether the character is ultimately doomed or redeemed is left for the audience to decide.
Written and Directed by Jelte ten Holt
With Pathy Aiyar
Executive Producer Colomba Damiani
Associate Producer Sindhu Narayanan
Cinematography by N. Dinesh Rajkumar
Pathy Aiyar Prisoner
Priyamka Kumar Prison Guard
Colomba Damiani Woman
Steven Duffy Boy
Assistant Director Sameer Mohan
Sound Design JR Nobotoo
Manasa R Rao at Format Studios
Seamus Hannigan at Void
Costume Designer Joanna Dias
Art Direction Jelte ten Holt
Art Work Seamus Hannigan
Storyboarding Ayan Nandi
Production Manager Suresh Acharya
Technical Support Jacob Varghese & Shashi Kumar
Location Kumar Studio Bangalore India
When Jelte ten Holt got back his first writing assignment from his university creative writing class the teacher sat down next to him and said ‘I could tell you what you're doing wrong. I could go into why what you're doing isn't the right way. I could then mould you into how you should be, but I won't. I don't want to influence how you write – exactly because it isn't the way it should be.' Not surprisingly, that writing class wasn't very hard for Jelte.
But this is how most of his creative endeavours have always been from his early writing for theatre to his poetry. He did them without any formal training, nor any formal guidance. As a result they don't always work like they are supposed to, but certainly can't be seen as run of the mill. He likes it this way, deciding to study other fields and bring them into his creative activities, rather than attending any formal creative institute.
He prefers to create his own theories about how things work, rather than hang on to the theories of others. ‘That way you can break all the rules, because you're not even fully aware they are there.’ Jelte has always been a person of re-evaluating your supposed certainties; since he sees the creation of good art as being all about asking the right questions.
Currently Jelte is writing his next screenplay between fact and fiction, an adventure story into a world like no other. Besides that project he is also working on a collection of decidedly odd poems.