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Monday, 30 December 2013 | Neeti Nigam

The 16th Bharat Rang Mahotsav will focus on folk performances and for the first time, there will be a parallel festival in Imphal and Guwahati. Neeti Nigam reports

While the television is bombarded with epic and historical shows, Bharat Rang Mahotsav (BRM) too, will revisit Kalidasa’s Abhigyan Shakuntalam through its inaugural play Chhaya Shakuntalam, to be directed by KN Pannikkar. The 16-day festival will commence on January 4 and will showcase 71 performances. As a parallel festival, BRM will go to Imphal and Guwahati with six plays — three international and three Indian, respectively.

Ratan Thiyam, chairperson, National School of Drama Society, said, “Northeast has a culturally rich and potentially strong theatre movement. Therefore, we have initiated the parallel festival so that even this gets covered, too.”

This year there is a lot more focus on the folk art with nine performances to be staged. If there is tamasha from Maharashtra, Chhau from eastern states, there is nautanki from Uttar Pradesh. “Though folk art is nothing new in the festival, but these performances are happening for the first time and the original artistes will participate,” says Prof Waman Kendre, NSD director. Before the performance, the expert will talk on the importance and origin of the artform.

The festival will feature a complete kaleidoscope of various theatre styles starting from classical, including modern, western and will end with folk. Theatre groups from 17 states will stage their work. Out of the 54 international entries, Sri Lanka, Japan, Israel, China, Poland and Germany are selected to show case their mettle. Besides, 20 per cent of the total plays will feature rural themes. Legend playwriters’ works like Euripides’ Trojan Woman, Vijay Tendulkar’s Anji and Bertolt Brecht’s Ringan will also be staged.

To make selection criteria objective and clear, the newly-appointed NSD chairman and director have plans for next year. “Till now it is through audio-visual representation (CDs) that we select a play but from now onwards we will form an advisory committee, that will watch the play personally,” says Vaman.

The festival will also host a book launch by Mahesh Dattani Me & My Plays along with book reading session by eminent authors like Surendra Verma, Pratap Sehgal, Mannu Bhandari and Asghar Wajahat. This year, a poster and photographic exhibition on in-house Shakespeare production will be held. There’ll be screening of films based on theatre experiences and process by Sanjay Maharshi. Short films on mobile theatre of Assam, Grotowski workshop and The Making of King Lear adapted in Hindustani are catered for the audience. Apart from the shows, BRM will bring the national theatre luminaries and their international counterparts on one platform. NSD has also planned two seminars where ideas will be exchanged on topics like ‘Global Exchanges, Local Encounters’ and on ‘Use & Abuse of Tradition in Today’s Theatre’ by the directors Dr Kamlesh Datt Tripathi and KN Panicker.

NSD will soon initiate a series, Living Legend, where prominent artistes from different fields will interact with NSD students and audience. To fill the void of good writers, it will start new courses like playwriting, children theatre and so on. Thiyam also said that NSD has plans to open more institutions on the same lines in different regions.

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