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Theatre Olympics: Under the flag of friendship

Celebrating Indian theatre on an international platform, ‘Bhagavadajjukam’, a Sanskrit play designed and directed by Goa’s theatre personality Afsar Hussain will be staged on March 26 at New Delhi

Story: BHARATI | PAWASKAR | 10th March 2018, 02:03 Hrs



Art transcends boundaries. It is a universal language that can communicate with millions of hearts. Theatre, being one of the most effective mediums of communication and exchange of cultures, the ongoing Theatre Olympics - organised by National School of Drama under the aegis of Ministry of Culture, government of India - is celebrating universal friendship by hoisting the flag of friendship and human values throughout the world, bringing cultures of the world on one stage. 

While three plays from Goa have been selected to perform at the Theatre Olympics, Bodhayan’s Sanskrit play Bhagavadajjukam designed and directed by Goan theatre stalwart Afsar Hussain in Hindi and staged by the artists from Sikkim Theatre Training Centre, has also made it to the international audience.

Bhagavadajjukam will be staged on March 26 at New Delhi as a part of this ongoing 51-day theatre extravaganza which began on February 17 at the Red Fort (New Delhi). The event which is being held in India for the first time includes 450 shows (including 65 shows by international artists), 600 ambient performances and 250 youth forum shows across 17 cities in India with 30,000 artists from 30 countries exhibiting their talent.

“March 27 is the international theatre day and it’s an honour to perform a day prior to that, on March 26. The music for Bhagavadajjukam has been created by Dr Govind Pandey while the choreography credit goes to Kishore Sharma,” briefs Afsar Hussain, an expert in directing classical Indian drama.

Hussain was invited by the Sikkim Theatre Training Centre, Gangtok to direct this Sanskrit play and train its theatre students.”Though these students did not know Sanskrit, they had to learn to speak in it and to deliver dialogues without fumbling at words or pronunciation. I am happy that they worked hard to exhibit extraordinary talent. We have already done two shows which were houseful and now the 10-day rehearsals for the March 26 show will start,” says Afsar who’s leaving Goa on March 12 for Sikkim. The team will leave for Delhi on March 24.  

Sikkim is the first centre of the National School of Drama outside Delhi to offer a year-long extensive training in theatre and where Afsar is often invited to offer training. Having himself trained in Classical Indian Drama at NSD, Hussain today is proficient in Natya Shastra, written by Bharat Muni around 2000 years ago. It is noteworthy that in all drama schools of India as well as other countries, this is included as a main subject for students of drama, but very few experts are available to teach this subject. Thus Hussain is often invited by many drama schools around India and has directed many plays in various schools of drama, including that of Kala Academy Goa apart from NSD’s Bengaluru, Sikkim, Tripura and MP schools of drama.

The Theatre Olympics will serve as a platform to showcase India’s traditional theatre forms to international audience in cities like Delhi, Chennai, Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram, Bhubaneshwar, Kolkata, Patna, Agartala, Guwahati, Varanasi, Bhopal, Manipur, Jaipur, Chandigarh, Jammum, Ahmedabad and Mumbai.

Like him eminent Indian theatre personalities who will participate in the festival are Shabana Azmi, Paresh Rawal, Manoj Joshi, Seema Biswas, Ratan Thiyam, Alyque Padamsee, M K Raina, Bansi Kaul and Usha Ganguly. India will use the opportunity to showcase its own talent, assimilating divergent theatre forms — from Swang to Rasleela, Nautanki, Bhand Pather and Jatra among others, under the ‘Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat’ theme. The event will also see programmes like the ‘Living Legends’ series, and ‘Master Classes’ besides two international and six national seminars.

The festival will play host to international theatre artistes such as Theodoros Terzopoulos (chairman, International Committee of Theatre Olympics), Liu Libin (China), Sahika Tekand (Turkey), Jan Fabre (Belgium), and Pippo Delbono (Italy).

“This international event will allow Indian theatre practices, its variations, philosophies and the sheer strength of its texts, narratives and ways of presentation in front of a global audience. In return, India will extend its arms to welcome the practices, ideologies and philosophies of visiting performers,” says Afsar.The Theatre Olympic  will conclude in Mumbai on April 8.

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