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     Volume 8 Issue 64 | April 3, 2009 |

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The Stage that Never Ends

The Star Desk

Khondokar Golam Quader and Dr. Razia Khan

Theatre acting was once considered an unconventional and even risqué profession but no one has ever denied that theatre is one of the most powerful mediums human beings have invented to get certain messages across. The thrill and intimacy of theatre that brings the audience and actors so close to each other cannot be matched by any other media.

The celebration of World Theatre Day was first held in Vienna in 1961 when the International Theatre Institute declared March 27 as the day it would be comemmorated. From 1962 onwards this day has been observed all over the world. Bangladesh, however, has been celebrating this day since 1984.

True to tradition this year too there were many exciting programmes devoted to this day. One such out of the ordinary programme was the honouring of two individuals for their groundbreaking contributions to theatre at a time when it was at it's growing stage in the region.

The event, jointly organised on March 27, by International Theatre Institute (ITI) and Bangladesh, Group Theatre Federation with close cooperation of Bangladesh Shilpa Academy as part of the overall celebrations, took place at the National Theatre Stage. The two individuals who were honoured were Dr. Razia Khan and Khondokar Golam Quader.

Dr Razia Khan started acting on stage at a time when women entering the profession was frowned upon. She started acting when she was in her teens, sometimes doing male lead roles but often also playing the part of the heroine. As a student of Dhaka University (DU) she acted in plays such as "Bijaya", "Nildarpan", "Dui Purush", "Maghdut", "Bidrohi Padma", "Agnigiri", "Keou Kichu Bolte Pare Naa" and "Manchitro".

From L to R: Bikash Kishore Das, Ataur Rahman, Khondokar Golam Quader, M Hamid, Dr. Razia Khan, Jhuna Chowdhury, Mamunur Rashid and Nasiruddin Yousuff.

She is one of the founder members of Drama Circle: along with her troupe she visited India and West Pakistan. As a teacher of DU, she taught English plays and acted with students in Krishnakumari. A member of English theatre group Dhaka Stage, along with Bangla, she acted and directed plays written in English. Her introduction to radio drama took place when she was a teenager; she is a vibrant guest in conferences on theatre both home and abroad. She has written numerous pieces of theatrical criticism as a journalist. Of her novels, plays and collections of essays, "Droupadi", "Shonali Ghaser Desh", "Onukalpa" deserve special mention. For her contribution to art and letters she has been awarded the Ekushey Padak, Bangla Academy Award and Anyanna Award.

Khondokar Golam Quader, son of Saleha Begum and Abdul Quddus Khondokar, started his life in acting in the role of a woman in Satin Sen's "Dasyu" after retiring from Ansar-VDP as its District Adjutant. He now lives in Chwalklokman, Bogra. There has been no turning back since his first acting experience: he has acted in 250 plays, which have had around 900 shows; of these most notable are: Shirajuddola and Tipu Sultan.

He has acted in Girish Mancha (in West Bengal, India), Halishar Mancha, Mahila Samiti, Guide House Mancha, National Theatre's Experimental Theatre hall and in several theatres across the country. He has acted in radio plays in Dhaka, Rajshahi and Rangpur radio station; some of his most memorable radio dramas are: "Hawar Indriajal", "Shirajuddola" and "Dakghar".

He debuted as a director in 1947 with "Mir Kashim" at the Muslim League National Guard Club. He has directed 100 plays, which have had around 900 shows. The plays that Quader has directed include: "Mission Kumari", "Shirajuddola", "Bisharjan", "Tipu Sultan", "Dipantar", "Kalindi", "Khuda", "E Bari O Bari", "Ulka' and "Nishkriti". He has worked as a director in theatre groups such as Nabarupi Dinajpur, Kheyali Sirajganj, Art Council Natore and George Coronation Gaibandha.

Apart from the reading out of the interesting biographies of the two personalities, there were speeches from the Acting DG of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy Bikash Kishore Das and important theatre personalities such as Nasiruddin Yousuff, also the General Secretary of Bangladesh Centre of ITI, M. Hamid Chairman of Bangladesh Group Theatre Frederation (BGTF) and Mamumur Rashid, Vice President ITI, Bangladesh and Ataur Rahman, president Bangladesh Centre of ITI. Journalist and poet Abul Momen read out a paper on the state of art and culture in our country. A message from the Brazillian-born, revolutionary theatre director activist Augusto Boal was also read out. The two personalities who were honoured were given crests and spoke about their remarkable experiences as pioneers in the theatre scene.

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