Northeastern plays delve into modern and classical myths

Theatre festival

A five-day festival of plays from the northeastern states, “Poorvottar Rashtriya Rang Utsav”, got underway at the National School of Drama (NSD) here on Monday with the staging of a Manipuri rendition of a Greek tragedy.

“This festival is being held at a time when people all over India are looking up to the northeast,” noted Hindi poet Kedarnath Singh said while inaugurating the festival.
He said many things were happening in the literary field in the different languages of the northeast.

“I am calling this the Renaissance period of the northeast,” he said.
 Some of the freshest poems today were coming from the northeast, he added.
“Whatever is happening in the northeast, we need to learn,” he said.

NSD chairman Ratan Thiyam, a noted Manipuri playwright and theatre director, said the festival was one of the steps to develop theatre not only in the northeast, but in the country as a whole.

“Unfortunately, theatre economics in India has not grown. Theatre training also has not grown,” he said.

He stated that the people of the northeast were proud of the region’s theatre.
“In the northeast, three states are active in theatre culture – Tripura, Assam and Manipur. But the rest of the states in the region do not have much. The NSD is trying to penetrate this space,” he said.

NSD director Waman Kendre said the institute was laying emphasis on developing theatre in the northeast.

“The culture ministry has given us special financial aid to work in the northeast,”
he said.

 He also added that the NSD has held a number of workshops in various places across
the region.This is the second edition of the festival.Monday’s inaugural Manipuri play Bacchae is based on the Greek play of the same name written by Euripides (480-406 B.C.), one of the three tragedians of classical Athens, the other two being Aeschylus and Sophocles.

It is directed by Thawai Thiyam, son of Ratan Thiyam.
While Euripides’s play was based on the myth of king Pentheus of Thebes and god Dionysus, Thawai Thiyam has portrayed Dionysus as a developed country which affects globalisation on a large scale. Pentheus is shown as a small community whose chances of survival are doubtful.

Another Manipur play to be staged during the festival is Rickshaw Amasung Nongmei, directed by S. Thaninleima.Two Assamese plays will be staged – Eserenga Rod, directed by Pranjal Saikia, and Lakhimi, directed by Anup Hazarika.A Nepali play from Sikkim, Hami Nai Aafai Aaf, directed by Bipin Kumar, will also be staged.This year, the festival will also be held at Amritsar, Jaipur and Vadodara.

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