Creative brilliance at work

Demonstration of 17 contemporary plays interpreting the literary works of Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore will turn the spotlight on the poet's legacy on his 150th birth anniversary here during 15-day mega festival of drama, beginning January 8.

Theatre chatter Amal Allana (left) with Anuradha Kapur.

Bharat Rang Mahotasav, organised by the National School of Drama (NSD) every year since 1999, will showcase a total of 97 productions, including 16 plays to be performed by artistes coming from different countries, at 11 venues in the City.

Poland will be the international focus country with artistes from the central Europen country to stage three plays besides two exhibitions. Artistes from Turkey and South Africa will be participating in the mega festival for the first time this year.

Fringe groups like eunuchs, dwarfs and non-actors will get an opportunity to stage their productions during the festival, NSD chairperson Amal Allana announced the dates and schedule of the mega event. “The focus is on Poland not just because it is a European country but because it has produced genius like of Jerzy Grotowski. There is very important writing that is happening in Poland now,” she said.

The NSD is set to sign an MoU with the National Theatre Academy of Poland in an effort to foster “intense theatre” exchanges between the two countries. “Poland is very important for us in NSD. We are signing an MoU with theatre academy in Warsaw and tying up with that academy. It will be one of the most intense exchange programmes,” said Amal. Renowned Polish scholar Prof Byrski will deliver a lecture on “Indian Classical Theatre” during the mahotsava, she added.

The festival will open on January 8 with veteran director Ratan Thyam’s new production, King of the Dark Chamber, which is an an adaptation of Tagore’s Andhakarer Raja. Other allied events include Avani, an interpretation of Tagore’s songs through medium of dance to be performed by Anita Ratnam.

In addition to this, there will be an exhibition, Where the Mind is Without Fear, showcasing rare archival photographs of Gurudev’s own plays as directed by him; and a seminar on “Temporal Spaces, Corporeality and Embodiment in Tagore’s Theatrical Works,” the NSD chairperson said.

Apart from these, there will be 79 performances—adaptations, revisitings, improvisations, devised works, traditional and folk-inspired renditions—reflecting the complex  and contemporary languages of the theatre practised in India.

“This year, we have surpassed all expectations because we have a huge basket of 97 productions. It has been a long journey to make an adequate selection of fare that is eclectic and diverse, with classic theatre on one hand and well-acted plays on the other,” Amal said.

The festival will also host six Indian adapations of Shakespeare’s plays and old favourites like Adhe Adhure (Mohan Rakesh). An epic narrative play, Stories in a Song by Sunil Shanbag will trace the history of music-making in India, besides two productions from Pakistan.

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