Vol. 5 Num 1109 Sat. July 14, 2007  

Citycell-Mahakal Theatre Festival '07 begins
Discussants call for new dimensions in theatre

On the inaugural ceremony of the Citycell-Mahakal Theatre Festival '07, arranged by Mahakal Natyasampradaya to celebrate its 24th anniversary, discussants urged for a change in the contemporary theatre scenario of Bangladesh. Eminent playwright-litterateur Syed Shamsul Haque was the chief guest at the inaugural session, which was held yesterday at the Experimental Theatre Stage. Other renowned theatre personalities speaking at the programme were Ataur Rahman, Mamunur Rashid, Nasiruddin Yousuff, Tariq Anam Khan and Golam Kuddus. The session was presided over by MA Azad, president of Mahakal Natyasampradaya. Meer Zahid Hassan, convenor of the festival committee delivered the welcome speech.

Reviewing the current theatre scenario of the country theatre director-actor-playwright Tariq Anam said, "It's true that some new theatre venues have been operating in the country, but how many quality productions we are offering and how many people are watching those plays? Unless the participation of the younger generation as theatre activists as well as audience is ensured we can't expect a boom in theatre."

President of Shammilito Shanskritik Jote theatre director Nasiruddin Yousuff said, "I like to evaluate the 35 years of the current neo-theatre movement in this way that we are trying to do something remarkable in, but we have yet to go a long way. I hope the younger generation do something better to reach the goal."

"It's true that as amateur theatre practitioners we have got recognitions at the international arena, but we need to give more effort to create new forms and to practice the classical forms simultaneously", said theatre personality Mamunur Rashid.

Using a well quotation theatre director-actor Ataur Rahman said, "A nation can be evaluated by its stage. In these days, I feel a lack of passion of the theatre activists. We hope regular thought exchange in the groups to create quality productions."

Seeking patronisation from the government level for the smooth continuation of cultural activities Golam Kuddus, general secretary of Shammilito Shanskritik Jote, said, "We expect supportive role from the current government."

Chief guest Syed Shamsul Haque said, "We are going through a transitional period. In the socio-political turmoil, it's easy to write many massage oriented plays, but it's really difficult to write classics. We expect that the current government do something remarkable for the betterment of the nation and its traditional culture."

Prior to the discussion, artistes of Spandan performed a group dance recital with the soundtrack of the patriotic song Dhono dhanya pushpo bhara by DL Roy.

Other cultural programmes held on the opening ceremony were a staging of a few scenes from Shikhondikatha by the actors of Mahakal and presentation of a srutinataok (recitation of a theatre performance) titled Hazar Churashir Maa, by the artistes of Katha Abritti Charcha Kendra. Moreover. Chanu Gayener Dal from Manikganj performed Kalu Gazir Pala, an indigenous performing art form based production. In the evening Mahakal Natyasampradaya staged Shikhondikatha, written by Anon Zaman and directed by Haroonur Rashid. Shikhondikatha features the sufferings and struggles of the transgendered individuals.

The 11-day theatre festival continues till July 25 with a gap of two days. Other plays included in the festival are Bhager Manush, Shamayer Proyojoney, Koinna, Projapoti, Bou Bashonti, Rupoboti, Jalodash, Meraj Fakirer Maa, Nakshi Kanthar Math and Raarang -- productions of theatre troupes Samay Natyagoshthi, Theatre Art Unit, Prachyanat, Natyakendra, Udichi Drama Section, Shubachan Natya Sangsad, Dhaka Padatik, Theatre, Bangladesh Theatre and Aranyak Natya Dal respectively.

Syed Shamsul Haque speaks at the programme