Official made in-charge director of Rangayana
Rajaram, the former director, faced the department’s wrath for protesting against its decision to transfer 12 artistes from Mysore to Shimoga and Dharwad.
Rangayana artistes deputed to Shimoga and Dharwad might face “dire consequences,” including suspension, if they failed to report for duty immediately, said Nirmala Matapathi, Deputy Director of Rangayana.
Matapathi said that the transfer orders had been issued on March 16 and the artistes were told to report to the respective workplaces on or before March 26.
“The department may seek an explanation if they don’t show up for work on the date specified. If they fail to do so, they may face suspension. There is also a possibility of the department giving the artistes an extension of the date,” she said.
If the artistes move the court and bring a stay on the orders of deputation, the entire process may get delayed, she said.
Matapathi said that the artistes in question knew their art well and their expertise was required to build the Rangayanas at Shimoga and Dharwad. The repertory in Mysore would not be impacted by this move, she said.
It was a norm to send artistes on deputation to all three Rangayanas on rotation basis, once in six years, she said, adding that the activities of Rangayana should not be confined to Mysore alone.
Matapathi refuted that there were continued clashes between artistes and the department officials.
“Ranga Samaja and the government have taken the decision. I am here to execute it - and not to question the same,” she said.
“Artistes of Rangayana have dedicated nearly 25 years of their lives to theatre activities in Mysore and we can never see the troupe broken,” said an emotional Noor Ahmed Sheik, one of the 12 transferred artistes.
Artistes stand ground
The artistes continued their protest for the third day in a row, with theatre lovers, writers, thinkers supporting their cause. They unanimously urged withdrawal of the transfer orders and the sacking of director Rajaram.
Sheik, who has been transfered to Dharwad, said that the artistes here had devoted their lives to Rangayana. He said there was a need to save the repertory to keep theatre activities alive in Mysore.
“While we were involved in plans to celebrate 25th anniversary of Rangayana, the government has gifted us the transfer order - with an objective to break our unity,” he said.
Manjunath Bilikere, the actor transfered to Shimoga, said the authorities themselves were confused about the transfer orders. “They have not even assigned our designations,” he said.
He said the artistes should be sent to either of the places as per the requirement. “Our roles there are not specified. We are ready to train the amateur artistes at any place, but the troupe should not be broken. The troupe has nearly 100 plays and there won’t be artistes here to perform them.”
H S Umesh, senior theatre personality, said the repertory had been granted autonomous status and the government was unnecessarily involving itself in the activities of the Rangayana.
Pramila Bengre, the artiste transferred to Shimoga, said that she and her colleagues were ready to face any consequences unitedly. “We will not accept the transfer orders,” she said.
H R Ravi Prasad (actor and designer), secretary of Rangavalli troupe, said that the artistes were being treated like “criminals”.
“They are making a mockery of the artistes by pasting the orders on the walls of their houses. There is a conspiracy to shut down Rangayana,” he said.