Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Draupadi @Kolkota

Draupadi a play in Malayalam that tells the story of womanhood was performed at Madhyamgram Nazrul Satabarshiki Sadan, on 22nd of November 2013, as part of The Para Porshir, The National Theatre Festival organised by Alternative Living Theatre Madhyamgram Kolkota. The festival was from November 20th to 24th .


This play analyses the living relationship between a contemporary Indian girl with the epic character Draupadi - a search into the multiple layers by which the motif of Draupadi is living inside the psyche and reality of an Indian women.

Draupadi is wedded to five great men and also is the love of Krishna, the universal lover. It seems that she is the happiest lady on earth. But all men have their own priorities and perception; none of them acknowledged her individuality, potentials, and needs; not even her sexuality. She was another pawn in the game of politics, and has to sacrifice her ideals, dreams, and life itself.

Draupadi is a woman of deep understanding and intelligence; she choose to keep silent and live through, with the full knowledge that it was unjust and that she deserved better than what she got. She was also not all that empowered to break out of the constraints and abandon the people or her family. This is where she becomes the representative of the contemporary Indian woman who is aware but also tied into the archetypes of family and morality fed into her by the collective conscience of her roots.

The play uses paintings, music, movement, puppets, props and lights to enhance performance and is in tune with the mode and aesthetics of Indian art.

The artists who participated in this performance are Sukanya Shaji, VR Selvaraj. Shaiju T Hamza , Latif Ceepee, Kishore NK, Srikanth, Bhanuvajanen and Madan Kolavil.

This is the 4th  Show of Draupadi, the third one being at Tripunithua , Kerala.

The groups that performed in this festival are Nandikar (Kolkata), Manch Rang Manch (Punjab), Lokadharmi (Kerala), Alternative Living Theatre (Kolkata) and Kalakshetra (Manipur)

Alternative living theatre organised this national theatre event of immense talent and quality Indian drama of modern times and all time greats. The teams participating are both well known and artistically acclaimed of superb audience applause.

Though Madhyamgram has a long history of theatre and festivals, quite a good number of theatre groups  make it one of the important cultural hubs of West Bengal, but a national theatre of this stature is the first time in Madhyamgram. Regional theatres are performed almost on a daily basis, all famous teams of Kolkata have performed here and the audience is a welcome host to all theatrical activities. Even we have been performing in the venue one show every month and we draw a steady crowd of good quantity and quality. A steady flow of theatre goers is already present and a lot of audience also comes from Kolkata as well. Therefore any good drama has a good opportunity to become a success.

­Nandikar: (Kolkata, West Bengal)- Nandikar's story begins on June 29, 1960, when Ajitesh Bandopadhyay and Asit Bandopadhyay, along with a collection of committed young theatre persons, broke away and formed the group, which consisted of Ajoy Ganguly, Satyan Mitra, Dipen Sengupta, later joined by Keya Chakravorty, Bibhas Chakravorty, and Rudraprasad Sengupta.

The group's early productions were mainly adaptations of non-Indian plays, like Natyakarer Sandhane Chhati Charitra (Luigi Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author), Manjari Amer Manjari (Chekhov's Cherry Orchard), Jokhan Eka (Arnold Wesker's Roots), Sher Afgan (Pirandello's Henry IV) and Tin Poyshar Pala (Bertolt Brecht's Threepenny Opera). They also performed Rabindranath Tagore's Char Adhyaya.

In the late 1970s, first Asit Bandopadhyay and then Ajitesh Bandopadhyay left the group. With Rudraprasad Sengupta as the main director, a new era started, and Nandikar turned from a pure performance-oriented theatre group to an organisation with a wide range of projects, including the annual National Theatre Festival.

Among the group's present actresses and actors are Swatilekha Sengupta, who starred in Satyajit Ray's movie Ghare Baire (The Home and the World) (1984) and Roland Joffé's City of Joy (1992), Goutam Halder, (he has left the group and formed a new one, initially becoming its director), Debshankar Halder, Sohini Sengupta Halder, who acted in Aparna Sen's movie Paromitar Ek Din (2000), and Rudraprasad Sengupta himself. Besides acting in Nandikar productions, he has also played in Bernardo Bertolucci's Little Buddha (1993).

Nandikar regularly performs all over India. However, during the last decade, the group has performed in several countries outside India, including Bangladesh, Germany, Sweden, UK, and USA.

Manch Rang Manch: (Amritsar, Punjab) -Amritsar based Punjabi Theatre Group Manch Rangmanch was founded by one of the NSD, students and eminent Punjabi Theatre Director Kewal Dhaliwal in Sep 1991 with an aim to uproot social evils in order to bring social awareness. The group started its work as a cultural organization but soon it focused on the promotion of quality theatre in Punjab by blending traditional theatre forms with modern techniques and on providing entertainment which has a social relevance. Now group works in the field of theatre production, publishing theatre books and organizing theatre workshops and theatre festivals.

Active in and committed to the cause of Punjabi Theatre for almost two decades now, Manch Rangmanch, Amritsar is one of the most prominent theatre groups in Punjab and has about forty artists affiliated with it. The group has focused especially on the training of children in these workshops. The group has, so far staged about 150 different plays and performed more than 1800 shows both in India and abroad. Manch Rangmanch organizes every year a month long production oriented theatre workshop at Amrtisar for young theatre workers in collaboration with National School of Drama and a ten days National Theatre Festival.

Group Leader: The group Mancha Rangmanch was founded by Kewal Dhaliwal, a renowned theatre director and graduate of National School of Drama, New Delhi. After Harpal Tiwana and Toni Batish, Kewal Dhaliwal made successful efforts to put Punjabi drama on commercial lines.

Annual theatre festivals with the collaboration of NSD is a major event of Manch-Rangmanch besides its productions. Group also present Awards and honors to theatre people to recognize their contribution to Indian Theatre. S. Gursharan Singh, Sh. D.R. Ankur, Smt. Neelam Maan Singh, Smt. Usha Ganguly Sh. Usman Peer Zada and Sh. Shahid Nadeem are some of the renowned theatre personalities honored by the group.

Lokadharmi: (Kochi, Kerala) The name Lokadharmi is taken from Natyasastra, the ancient Indian manual on theatre written by Bharatha around 100 BC, a complete book on theatre that classifies and codifies dramatic structure, dramatic language, poetry, aesthetics, actor training, music, construction of theatre house and even the definition of a true spectator. It classifies theatre into Natyadharmi (stylized, abstract and based on an elaborate system of sign language that appeals to a connoisseur) and Lokadharmi (popular, closer to realistic, folk or the style of the people. It also means ‘concerned about the world and its affairs’)

In October 1991, twenty-five theatre enthusiasts comprising of actors, musicians, artists and scholars started working together under the direction of Chandradasan, a prominent theatre person, at Kochi, Kerala, India. This theatre company named as Lokadharmi has flourished as one of the important centre for theatre training, research and performance in India.

The beginning was the theatre training school,where actors were given intense training in acting and introduced them to the different acting systems from all over the world that included the traditional Indian theatre like that of Kathakali, Koodiyattam, and many folk forms like Mudiyettu, Padayani, Theyyam and a lot other narrative theatre forms widely existing in Kerala. Also the techniques from Greek Theatre, Theatre of Shakespeare, Modern theatre starting from Stanislavski and the method acting, Artuad and the theatre of Cruelty, Grotowski and the physical theatre, Brecht and epic theatre, to the newer experiments done by Peter Brook and Eugene Barba are used. While doing all this at and at the same time rooted deep in the theater and performance tradition of the land.

The study was also on the history and envelopment of theater all over through world; the change in perceptions of theatre and also on the different ages mould a theatre was undertaken. For convenience and clarity we designed a cyclic format for training that is broadly divided into different phases of one year duration focusing on Indian classical and Traditional Theatre, European classic theatre, the Kerala Theatre, Contemporary Indian Theatre, And the Modern Theatre all over the world.

The theatre training school has its regular sections on all Sundays and has been on the run without any break from October 1991. Faculty from all over the world has visited the school and done Workshops to train our artists.

Also Lokadharmi undertakes extension workshops at rural areas, schools and colleges to initiate theatre awareness among aspiring artists and art lovers.

Artistic Director ; Chandra Dasan: The Artistic director of Lokadharmi and the founder member of the group is one of the important figures in Indian theatre. He has directed more than 30 plays in a career of 25 years, that include classics to slapstick comedy to children's theatre in the languages Malayalam, English, Sanskrit and Kannada. These were performed widely all over India in important theatre festivals and also in Greece recently. He is also a research scholar with many papers to his credit published in celebrated journals. He is actively involved in campus theatre and street theatre, and is a professor in Chemistry at St.Albert's college, Kochi.

Alternative Living Theatre: (Madhyamgram, Kolkata) - In 1977,Probir Guha established the Living Theatre (at present Alternative Living Theatre)in Khardaha, Gathering around him a group of Kolkata, gathering around him a group disenchanted and unemployed local youth from impoverished lower middle-class families. He chose Khardaha as the location for the ALTERNATIVE LIVING THEATRE, so that he can save ALT from the so called urban drama and threats to its integrity posed by the commercialism and economic pressures of the city. And he recruited actors form among the under privileged class to create a theatre shaped by their own struggles and suffering. The Alternative Living Theatre struggles and suffering almost exclusively in the small towns and villages of West Bengal and neighbouring states and abroad. It his initiative that consistently attacked communalism, social obscurantism, oppressive social conventions, superstition and political apathy, while attempting to build new ideals and sow the seeds of change in human minds.

The Alternative Living Theatre rejects the "problem Theatre" of Urban intellectuals in favour of a theatre of living feelings. Which focuses less on the issues then on the experience of hunger, unemployment and social inequality, and which portrays the pain, humiliation, disillusionment and alienation of the downtrodden.

Drama which intellectualizes oppression and exploitation marks that reality 'safe' for the audience instead of compelling them to confront it. The Alternative Living Theatre also rejects alternative theatre movement which lay claim to relevance because they dramatize social realities in the streets. It is not enough to show the death of a man on stage, and earn applause; it is necessary to make visible the pain of dying, to disturb and challenge the audience to confront the image of their reality. Therefore they have discarded the same monotonous grammatical acting and have experiment and evolved a new aesthetic of theatre where physicality is the means of communication. The main ingredients have been taken from culture and martial arts from all over India and abroad, Such as, Chow, Thang-ta, Karasama, Kalari-payet, Kabuinaga, Odisi, Topeng, Leong, Kathakali, Bhartnattyam, raibenshe &many more.

The group has its own big training centre in a calm and quite environment. About 30 students could be accommodated for alternative living theatre workshops at its own centre and abroad A.L.T. is just not a theatre group instead, its a movement, unity, power and altogether a family where we love, scream, enjoy and happily share theatre among ourselves.

Artistic Director: PROBIR GUHA  -Born in 1948 in Khardah, an industrial suburb of Calcutta, Shri Probir Guha read Economics and Political Science for his Bachelor’s degree from Calcutta University in 1968. A year later he formed his first theatre company, Naam Nahin, and created plays working with the group for two years. He subsequently worked with Bibhash Chakraborti and Badal Sircar in Calcutta, and was inspired by the latter’s example to look for new ways of doing theatre.

Moving back to Khardah, Shri Guha established a new company, Living Theatre, in 1977, and worked with unemployed local youth to create a theatre shaped by their own struggle and suffering. Since renamed Alternative Living Theatre, this company has developed a new aesthetics and forged new tools of expression, moving away from the linear narration, speech and movement of conventional drama. Performing in small towns and villages, the theatre has consistently attacked communalism, social obscurantism, oppressive social conventions, superstition and political apathy, while attempting to build new ideas and sow seeds of change in human minds. Shri Guha has directed more then fifty plays with his own company and other groups, performing widely in India and neighbouring countries. He continues to do experimental theatre with various marginalized groups such as landless peasants, juvenile offenders, and sex workers. His work has been lauded by leading minds in world theatre including Peter Brook, Jerzy Grotowski, and Eugenio Barba. He has had occasion to work with these masters abroad and has himself conducted workshops in Poland, Germany, and the United States.

Among other honours Shri Guha has received a Commemorative Award for People’s Theatre from the American Biographical Institute. Shri Probir Guha received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for his contribution to Indian theatre as a director.

Kalakshetra : (Manipur) The main objective was to study, revive and project the culture of Manipur through the art of theatre and to set highest standards of performance to match not only the best in India but the world theatre scene.

As Kalakshetra believed in the notion of a workshop that is a laboratory or research theatre rather than a production company it began its experiment in a continuous process of 'renewal of ancestral tradition' for a contemporary cultural expression as they are all the progeny of an etho - social tradition of Manipur. The artists of the group endeavored to learn afresh the native lore traveling throughout the nook and corner of Manipur and strengthened their creative will. They created the performances for the 'work-in-progress' shows rather than 'Public Theatre'-a finished production for public exhibition.

Besides, the group launched cultural expedition in organizing theatre events with the non-actors in three different socio - cultural contexts. They were: (i)performance of NUPI LAN (Women's war of Manipur, 1939)in which market women around one hundred from women's market of Imphal town took the active participation in December, 1978 as players, (ii)At Umathel, a sleepy village in the remote corner of southern Manipur SANJENNAHA (cowherd) was performed by the villagers themselves in December, 1979, and (iii)Introduced theatre in the tribal area of Paite community of Churachandpur district with the production of THANGHOU LEH LIANDOU performed by tribal youths in March, 1980.

Along with the training and research programmes the group created remarkable performances that stood out as milestone of an originally alternate theatre.

Artistic Director: Heisnam Kanhailal (b 17 January 1941) is a noted art theatre personality from Indian state of Manipur .He was awarded Padma Shri award by Government of India in 2004 for his work. He is the founder-Director of Kalakshetra Manipur, established in 1969, a theatre laboratory that explores a new vocabulary in the existing language of theatre.

Born in Keisamthong Thangjam Lairak, Imphal. He was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in Direction in 1985, given by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy of Music, Dance & Drama. In Dec,2011, He was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademy Ratna Award (the Highest ranked and most valued academy award)-2011.


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