Rangayana artistes launch hunger strike; observe black day

Support pours in for protestors from across the State

Rangayana artistes launch hunger strike; observe black day

Rangayana artistes, who are on an indefinite strike against their ‘unscientific deputation’ to Shimoga and Dharwad, as well as the sacking of director B V Rajaram, marked the World Theatre Day, by observing a ‘black day’ on Wednesday, besides beginning a relay hunger strike.

The 12 artistes, who have reported to duty at respective Rangayanas in Shimoga and Dharwad, have taken indefinite leave and are in the city — participating in the ongoing protest for the last six days. Rajaram also participated in the protest.

The artistes are contending their detachment from Mysore Rangayana, comprising 18 members.

The supporters said, observing black day was perhaps a first of its kind in the history of theatre in the world. This is the silver jubilee year of Rangayana.

Also, while theatre troupes across the globe celebrated World Theatre Day, a majority of the theatre fraternity in Mysore did not rejoice the day. Most of them were seen extending their support to the Rangayan artistes.

However, ‘Nammura Kannada Shale’ was staged at Vanaranga by Rangavalli, Ankana and GPIER troupes, depicting the apathy of the government towards Rangayana and the plight of the artistes. Janardhan (Jenny), a Rangayana artiste, read out a message of Dario Fo, an Italian playwright, which said, his plays could be utilised by theatres acrosss the world by modifying them. Puttannaiah, from Gubbi Theatre Company, who directed ‘Sadarame’ for Rangayana artistes, told Deccan Herald that the authorities have been urged not to “pollute and disturb the flow of Rangayana” by breaking down the troupe. The repertory should rather be conserved and nurtured for bigger projects.

Prashanth Hiremath, who is deputed to Shimoga, said, the artistes had not even sought hike in remuneration and allowances, which has been effected, with their deputation. “We just want the troupe to be alive, executing bigger projects. Despite the artistes opposing deputation in every meeting, it was not fair on the part of the authorities to take an unilateral decision,” he added.

Failed project

He said, a project of Swedish centre of International Theatre Institute (ITI) — ‘Ranga Kishora’, to emphasise children’s theatre, launched by Rangayana, could not be sustained by the government.

Elisa Toledo of Brazil, a professor of Dramatics in France, was so impressed by the skills of the artistes here that she wanted to ready the troupe for Shakespere’s ‘Tempest’ in future.

Swanthika Sahitya Mattu Samskrutika Balaga of Sullia, Dakshina Kannada, has supported the protests and has submitted a memorandum to the chief minister condemning the deputation.

Writers’ and Artistes’ Forum is also with Rangayana artistes in the ‘Save Rangayana’ movement. Rangayana artiste Mahadev and journalist T Gururaj launched the relay hunger strike on Wednesday. Rangayana artiste B N Shashikala and Ravi Prasad of Rangavalli Troupe will follow suit on March 28.

Appeal

Congress leader B K Chandrashekar, actor Arundati Nag, former chairman of Karnataka Nataka Academy Dr K Marulasiddappa and others on Wednesday sought Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar’s intervention to resolve the Rangayana imbroglio.

In a letter to Shettar, they said ‘babudom’ and a few selflish theatre persons were trying to diminish the legacy of Rangayana. Veteran artistes such as B V Karanth, Prasanna, C Basavalingaiah, Chidambararao Jambe have put in lot of efforts to build this group over the years. There was an urgent need to fix those who are trying to destroy the existing set up of Ranagayana through dividing the group and transfering its director, the letter said.

Journalist K Vijaya, former chairman of Kannada Pusthaka Pradhikara S G Siddaramaiah, theatre person T Surendra Rao, activist G K Govinda Rao and writers H S Raghavendra Rao and M H Krishnaiah are other signatories to the letter. 

Commissioner’s take

K R Ramakrishna, commissioner for Kannada and Culture and acting director of Rangayana told Deccan Herald that he had no information about Rangayana artistes, who had returned after reporting to duty. He said, the artistes had shown ‘obedience’ and accepted deputation.

To a query on black day observed in Mysore Rangayana, he said, “I am unaware of any such day. I was told by deputy director Nirmala Matapathi that artiste Mime Ramesh had booked Vanaranga for a show.”

He refused to comment on any future projects of Mysore Rangayana, including the famous ‘Chinnara Mela’ and said, “regular activities will go on.”

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