An ode to rich Kannada theatre

W hen theatre institutes worldwide celebrate World Theatre Day and city’s own state-sponsored repertory Rangayana is immersed in celebration of its National theatre festival Bahuroopi, city based theatre activist has made all Kannadigas proud translating the International Theatre Day messages in Kannada and making it to the web portal of International Theatre Institute, Paris.

The International Theatre Institute (ITI) which is an autonomous body under the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) was founded in 1961 with an objective to promote theatre and hold programmes for a constructive growth of the World theatre.

To mark the day when the world body met at Helsinki for first time, the World Theatre Day is observed on March 27 and the ITI invites prominent theatre personalities to deliver a message every year.

As an ode to the vibrant theatre in Karnataka, which has the honour of running the only state-sponsored repertory in Rangayana in the country, theatre activist Srikanta Gundappa has contributed to the translations of all the World Theatre Day messages since 1962 - a book volume (brought out by Karnataka Nataka Academy) of which was released on Theatre Day on March 27 in Bangalore and at inaugural of the Bahuroopi in city on Wednesday.

The messages in Kannada have made it to the ITI portal along with 25 different languages of world. Interestingly, Kannada messages of the Theatre Day is the only Indian language in the portal as there is no effort done to translate all messages till date to any language, including Hindi.  

Talking to City Herald, Srikanta Gundappa shared his experience of writing the Theatre Day messages in Kannada and his four-decade long association with the theatre activity.
“The reading of the messages gave me a rich insight into the cultures and traditions of theatre all across the globe. Almost all the messages was not easy to assimilate and put it in the native language. It took many readings to arrive at a proper understanding and comprehension,” he says. And, many supported him in the task, he adds. Gundappa says though he was good in the native language, he needed support to crack the English. “It is where my children Rashmi Vinay and Kiran Babu chipped in. Prof C Naganna of English department and theatre activist H S Umesh also supported a lot,” he tells.

According to Gundappa, he began translating the world theatre messages since 2003. He began to collect all the messages since 1962. Though, the English version was not available, he contacted the Bangladesh Theatre Institute which preserved all Bangla versions of the messages.

“The ITI is happy about the translated work and expressed shock and wonder at how I could access all messages since 1962 saying that ITI itself lost few messages,” says Gundappa, who took voluntary retirement from UCO bank to pursue his theatre interest.
He adds his work gave him a rich experience and satisfaction.

A few inspiring messages

- Jessica Khawa (2011) who opines that theatre can bring peace and brotherhood if the United Nations and powerful countries start investing more into theatre instead of ammunitions and wars.

- In 2007, Ariyan Mushkin, a noted world theatre activist who is specially-abled presents her message in a form of poem highlighting the power of theatre.

- African theatre activist Vaul Soyenka calls for a end to apartheid and caste discrimination through theatre.

- In his message, Dr Dr Sultan Bin Mohamed Al Khasimi, Member of The Supreme Council of the United Arab Emirates, Ruler of Sharjah said he understands theatre as a powerful tool which can make people act with maturity on respecting individual freedom and freedom of expression.

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