KALABURAGI: Taking the passion for theatre to the masses is no easy task, but Rangayana Kalaburagi has doggedly pursued its goal. This, despite a number of hurdles and controversies, and even the threat of being shifted to another town in Kalyana Karnataka. Now, thanks to the team’s efforts, theatre and folk art are a part of Kalaburagi’s social milieu, and have caught the public imagination.
Conceptualised and established in 2014, Rangayana Kalaburagi had teething troubles in the first few years. But as 2020 dawned, things changed. Prabhakar Joshi, a graduate from Ninasam and stage expert who assumed charge as Rangayana director in December 2019, formed a team of 15 guest artistes, including a technician. After a few months, full-time artistes and three technicians were selected to take up theatre activities regularly, and a new team came into existence on October 5, 2020.
The Kalaburagi edition of Rangayana, which had restricted itself to inviting drama troupes of other districts to stage plays in Kalaburagi till early 2020, came up with two original dramas -- Siri Purandara and Trayasta -- by its own artistes. The plays not only caught the attention of theatre lovers of Kalaburagi, but the team creating magic on stage was invited to perform the plays across India, including in Mysuru, Bengaluru, Raichur, Hyderabad and New Delhi.
No mean task, considering it was a Covid year, but as the first wave waned, the artistes toured other states, following the pandemic protocol.Impressed by the performances, the Goethe Institute/ Max Mueller Bhavan, Bengaluru, asked Rangayana Kalaburagi to translate the drama ‘Wie man die Zeit vertreibt’ into Kannada, and to stage it in Kalaburagi, Bengaluru and Germany, to be sponsored by the Goethe Institute. This led to the play ‘Samayada Aata Galata’ which is due to be staged.
The team also staged folklore theatre, picking up Bayalaata and Yakshagana, two art forms which usually contain prose, poetry and different forms of dance, and are performed in an open-air theatre. In the past few years, neither of the three Rangayanas troupes of Karnataka have staged either Yakshagana or Bayalaata, though the forms were added in parts to some of the plays.
Joshi, who received applause for staging a drama on Puranadara Daasa titled ‘Siri Purandara’, comprising both prose and Daasavani (poetry) from different parts of the state, staged Bayalaata on ‘Rama Ravanara Yudha (Battle between Rama and Ravana). The Bayalaata, too, attracted theatre lovers and was staged in many places. To bring in perfection, the artistes were trained in Dhwani Vinyasa, Hejje Kunita, Bamboo Nrutya, Natya Shastra (Navarasa) etc.
Encouraged by public response, Rangayana Kalaburagi took up the initiative of taking drama to villages. The troupe visited one village in each of the seven jurisdictional districts (Kalaburagi, Bidar, Yadgir, Raichur, Koppal, Ballari and Vijayanagar) and camped for three days. On the first day, the team would identify local artistes in the village and encourage them to showcase their talents. In the remaining two days, Rangayana artistes performed plays and other cultural activities.
The repertory launched this initiative in a village in Kalaburagi district in the first week of February, and a similar experiment was carried out in a village of Yadgir district in the last week of February. Joshi said this exercise will continue in the coming months, and selected local artistes will be invited to participate in workshops and will also be trained.