Rising corruption in society, debasement of political class, exploitation of the masses and violence __ issues that are agitating the common man, have found voice in performing arts.
Playwrights across the country, even at the amateur level, are focusing on the burning issues as these, in a way, seem to have become the theme of India Theatre Olympiad 2012, presently underway at Shahid Bhawan and Barabati Stadium here.
Plays in traditional and folk styles but reflecting the contemporary are, in fact, trending topics at the festival. Most of the plays, be it from Assam, Manipur, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh or Kerala, are based on subjects of gradual erosion of the social value system, ethics and morality.
“Bonde Maataram,” presented by Asomiya Sanskrutik Somaz from Tezpur in Assam was a stark depiction of the ills of society. The experimental play, presented through a mix of drama and traditional folk dance and song Huchari depicted the victimisation of the common citizen at the hands of corrupt and depraved political leadership.
The play ended with characters making a “freeze photograph” and asking questions to the audience through their body language, “if there was a solution to today’s problems”.
Naika Theatre Group from Balasore also brought into focus the issues of exploitation and weakening of moral fabric through its play “Kandhei.” The play combined three different forms from puppetry, folk and jatra styles with the traditional drama form to weave magic on the theme.
It depicted the story of a young girl, who had aspirations to be an actor, but fell prey to exploitation at all levels. From a cheerful girl harbouring fascinating dreams, she ended up a mental wreck and committed suicide.
One of the country’s top amateur theatre groups, Social Dramatic Union of Imphal in Manipur, turned to history to highlight the contemporary. It presented the play “Ahing Amagi Manipur” (Manipur in One Night) depicting corruption during British rule after Manipur was conquered in 1891 till it attained freedom on the night of August 14, 1947.
The play, written by Thangi Mangkisana and directed by N Bousingh, got rave reviews here.
Then there was Saanko Theatre Group from Kolkata which presented “Bhooter Bore” based on the burning issue of forcible land acquisition.
“The plays have been well appreciated. Though they are presented in regional languages, they have been able to put the message across, reinforcing the belief that creative expressions transcend language and other barriers”, organiser secretary of Utkal Yuva Sanskrutika Sangha (UYSS) Prof Kartik Rath said.
Into its eighth day, the 20th edition of the Olympiad has seen performance of more than 25 plays while over 1,500 song and dance artistes have performed.
Manipur has been represented the most with as many as 20 drama troupes taking part while Assam follows suit with 15 and West Bengal 12. Artistes and groups from 20 States are participating.
The International Theatre Festival, featuring groups from 10 countries, will commence from October 12. It would be kicked off by Tourism and Culture Minister Maheswar Mohanty.