Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Probir Guha gets National Award....


I am extremely happy to share the news that our friend Probir Guha from Kolkota (Artistic Director of Alternative Living Theatre) has been awarded with Sangeeth Natak Akademy award for theatre this year.

Probir is a long term friend of Lokadharmi and has visited our group many times to do workshops, to exchange ideas and collaborate. Also he had come with his productions of Kalo Basti, Ahalya, and Waves of Darkness way back in 1996, and again with Tridiya Yudha in January 2008.

He may be collaborating with Lokadharmi in a production of Oorubhangam in the near future; we have been communicating about this for the last one year.

And Probir is coming to Kochi as the Director of a 21 days workshop with selected actors from the district. The workshop starts from January 23rd. This workshop is part of Natakakalam, a project of District library Council and C-hed of Corporation of Kochi.

We are extremely happy and proud of you Probir...

Lokadharmi is organizing a reception to honor Probir on the eve of 28th of January at Changampuzha Park, Edappally, where we will screen the video of one of his important productions.

We welcome everyone to join this event to congratulate Probir. He is one among us...

Know the man from his words

Here are some of the quotes from Probir which he keeps on saying. His words will speak about him and his theatre.

Probir Guha says

· "Imperialism has been adopting the same old tactics of divide and rule. This is exactly what is happening in Iraq. The American occupation forces are unabashedly capturing oil resources, ravaging the culture of the people, destroying their liberty."

· "My experiences and experiments have resulted in the extension of Living Theatre to a new concept called Journey Theatre, which provides actors more opportunity to establish direct contact with the spectators."

· "I have learnt from my own tradition, recreating it for modern times. Theatre is very much region specific and culture specific. What I learnt from Grotowski is his devotion and commitment to the theatre which is free from illusory devices and which captures life in an authentic manner. His use of the human body has also influenced me. The body movements are not acrobatics but these are spiritual incarnations of the performers."

· "In terms of theatre philosophy we (Probir and Badal Sircar) appear to be similar, but in approach we are different. His theatre is limited to the urban educated audience. I do theatre for the common man in villages as well as for the city people. My approach is not rigid as far as presentational style is concerned. Sometimes I stage on pavements, roadsides, streets, rooftops, and sometimes I use intimate theatre and proscenium - I use all these areas as space. I love to explore spaces."

· "Schchner uses a conceptualised theatre, he designs the space. In contrast, my theatre space is improvised. I use nature as it is."

· "Alternative Living Theatre is not the name of a group, it is a movement. It will grow as people become conscious of their right to use theatre as a medium of self-expression. It has nothing to do with economic viability. It liberates spectators from their passivity, inspiring them to be in direct contact with the actors. The movement for a strong Alternative Living Theatre will grow in the future."

· "Our own indigenous culture is beautiful and if we have to fight globalisation it has to be with the power of our own tradition,"

· "It is a social duty for me and I have seen the changes that have come through it. We are searching for a way to inspire spectators to get up and react and act. I do not go for a storyline because that has its own pressures. The idea is my hero, not the character playing the part."

· "I was a political activist but got disillusioned with political parties and thought theatre might be another medium to make a difference with."

· Theatre is a journey, it is storytelling. It is a real secular space that cannot lie. It is truth from your perspective.”

· “mere sloganeering will not help, it has to be artistic.”

· “I exercise caution in my use of words because word carries power and each word creates a response in our bodies

· “When they (the new artists to ALT) come they are free to interact, question, and learn. Some do leave but the ones that stay on help take ALT forward. We are like an extended family. We all know to starve and survive on a frugal meal. Each one of us knows poverty, so coping with lean periods is no problem at all”

· “Theatre has to be intimate. It may not bring a revolution by itself, but it certainly is a rehearsal for revolution.”

The words of Probir quoted extensively above clearly speak about the theatre of Probir- his priorities, approaches and concerns. After the illustrious start Probir had also undergone through a very gloomy and sad phase where his theatre was almost in a standstill and lost in dilemma. As many other artists funded by Ford foundation, Probir was also adrift in the crossroads, deserted and alone. This sad phase made me and many other people question about the hidden agendas and the political implications of external funds.

The theatre of Probir was intense and sharply political for the imperial agencies could stand and promote. Anyway this is not the time to discuss about the pleasures and perils of funding, but I want to say that Probir had overcome the bad patch and was able to recoup and rebuild his theatre, almost starting from the scratch.

And in this second coming Probir did not loose his political ideology nor dilute his vision about the form, content, methodology, working ethics, aesthetics, ideology and the essence of theatre. I had seen him working harder with a clearer perspective in this phase of theatre.

In the first phase his theatre was more violent and rustic. In the funded period he had the chance to study the various martial arts and traditional forms of the country more closely and also was able to train the actors in these respects. To the earlier physical format that might have been in lineage to Grotowski, Probir could definitely add the flavor of many Indian traditional forms like Chou, Kalaripayattu to the repertory of the art and craft of his actors. This gives a further ambience of authenticity, and a root into the culture of the land and this accent further the political angle of his plays.

And I wish Probir goes ahead with his theatre, stronger, clearer, brighter and upright with candid perspective and commitment, typical of him.

With this Sangeeth Natak Akademy award Probir joins the bandwagon of the illustrious theatre directors from Bengal including Sombhu Mitra, Shyamanand Jalan, Ajitesh Bandopadhyay, Rudraprasad Sengupta, Tarun Roy, Usha Ganguly, and Arun Mukherjee.

1 comment:

abhishek said...

wonderful to see , that such good theatre is back to the festival.
Wishing everyone the spirit and joy of it.
abhishek majumdar