From British Council to Public Library Gallery:
Eastern University Drama & Theatre Forum Rocks the Stage
With the emergence of private universities promising both academic excellence and cultural pursuits, the difference between private and public universities has already become a myth. Despite the limitation of space and time, students of private universities have proved time and again, that they are in no way less talented than the students of state owned universities. Managing time from the grueling semester system and going beyond the confinements of campus life, private university students have come up with outstanding cultural programmes.
Eastern University in this regard stands most unique with its eventful cultural programmes, especially theatrical performances that have drawn attention of many people. Extra-curricular activities are encouraged and patronized by the Eastern University authority. Attending classes regularly and performing well during examinations do not ensure success in the future. Hence, students are often found busy in numerous clubs and cultural activities, which help them to get rid of monotonous studies and save them from subversive social activities.
With this realization, Eastern University Drama and Theatre Forum had its inauguration on 20 March 2009 under the supervision of Nazla Fatmi, Lecturer of English and the guidance of Professor Dr. Nurul Islam, Dean, and Faculty of Arts. An indomitable urge of the students to go beyond the boundary resulted in a constructive semester-long workshop on theatrical performance. The forum organised the workshop and trained the enthusiastic students with the help of professional theatre personalities. Yes, the effect was much more than the effort: the students of the English Department rocked the stage of British Council on 3 July 2009 with their electrifying and stunning performance of Moliere's The Miser. Kazi Toufiqul Islam Emon, senior member of one of the most promising theatre groups in the country, directed the drama. The Bangla version of The Miser has been staged many times in Bangladesh, but EUDTF took the challenge to stage the drama in its English version in Dhaka. Famous French playwright Jean-Baptiste Moliere's The Miser portrays the story of a rich money-lender called Harpagon, whose feisty children long to escape from his penny-pinching household and marry their respective lovers, is a comedy of manners to which the 17th-century French upper classes presumably objected.
This year the Forum members expressed their keen interest in performing a Bangla drama for Prof. Dr. Nurul Islam. Dr. Islam had been by our side ever since the inception of the Forum and he gave his generous support this time as well. We started working heart and soul for our second production and accordingly formed a group of fifteen students for it. Rehearsals began and continued for almost two months on a daily basis obviously after class hours in the afternoons. Finally on 5 August 2010, Eastern University Drama and Theatre Forum added another feather of glory to its list of continual achievements through its amazing stage performance of Teener Talwar by the prominent playwright Utpal Dutta at Shawkat Osman Memorial Auditorium in the Public Library premises (Shahbag, Dhaka) and made history as the first university to take up such a challenging venture.
The amateur artistes put up a praise-worthy performance in Shawkat Osman Auditorium. All the seats were occupied and the audience was carried away into a world of theatrical perfection. Applause and whistles of appreciation from the audience showed their enthusiasm. The tenacity of the dialogues and exceptional characterization along with the art of meta-theatre drifted the audience to the distant but haunting days of colonial rule in India as portrayed by the playwright Utpal Dutt. A bunch of artistes led by the central character, Kapten Babu finds it difficult to survive amidst the crass commercialism of British colonization. To their surprise Bashundhara, Prionath, Kamini, Beni, Horoballav, Jolod discover that theatre is no more an artistic representation of life but rather an instrument in misrepresenting our native life and culture as the patrons financing the artistes are petty bourgeois like Bir Krishna always catering to the demands of the colonial rulers. Artistes do not have the liberty to decide what to perform as they are obliged to fulfill the requirements of their financers. In such circumstances, Kapten Babu has nothing to do other than coming to terms with his ideology; he trades his patriotism with commercial success and decides to stage Shodhobar Akadoshi instead of Titumir. Bashundhara, Moyna, Prionath, and Beni get furious but finally submit as Bir Krishna threatens them to sell off the theatre. Tension reaches its height and the audience was dragged into the climax with the curiosity to know what happens next. The comic transforms into something absolutely serious and the twist in the action of the play made the audience recognise the inner turmoil of the characters. The curtain rolled down and the audience was left silent: there was no pity or fear, nor was there any catharsis. But certainly there was a feeling, a feeling of realisation that motivated the audience to stand straight in respect. The performers bowed holding hands to the clapping and cheering of the audience. It was a great success for Eastern University Drama and Theatre Forum.
All the honourable guests and audience gave a big round of applause to the performers. Eminent Theatre activist Mr. Ataur Rahman graced the occasion as the chief guest. “I am really very surprised to see such a difficult and challenging drama staged by these amateur actors, though they haven't seemed so,” said the chief guest. “I congratulate them and wish them good luck for their next stage show,” he added. Besides, Prof. Dr. Abdur Rab, honourable Vice Chancellor, Treasurer Mr. Emdadul Islam, Chairman Prof. Dr. ABM Shahidul Islam of EU were present in the programme. Mr. Afzalur Rahman, Mr. Abul Kashem Haider honourable governing members of Eastern University Foundation were also present. Faculty members from other public and private universities were also invited. Being the coordinator of the forum, Nazla Fatmi welcomed Ms. Kursia Jahan from the faculty of Business Administration and Mr. Anupom Acharjee from the faculty of Engineering and Technology as advisors.
Media Partner: The event had its media partners: ATN Bangla, Star Campus and Radio Bijoy. During the performance, Radio Bijoy aired the event live.