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Rangapeeth Brings International Theatre To Santipur

2014-12-25 19:19

Seema Biswas in 'Streer Patra' at Rangapeeth theatre festival in Santipur Picture by ABHI GHOSH

Rangapeeth theatre festival venue. Picture by ABHI GHOSH

A scene from Oriya play 'Mrigaya' Picture by ABHI GHOSH


Santipur, Dec. 25: The town has no good auditorium that suits the need of modern theatre. The theatre artistes in Santipur hardly get scope to show their acting talents to the people in the town. Nevertheless, ‘Santipur Rangapeeth’, a theatre group in the town has been practicing good theatre culture and trying to make proximity to the international theatre.

The town which is known as a holy abode to the Vaishnabs and a hub for cotton saree too, has only one dilapidated auditorium – the Santipur public library hall with only 375 seat capacity, but the members of the ‘Santipur Rangapeeth’ has enthusiasm galore.

Seema Biswas in 'Streer Patra' at Rangapeeth theatre festival in Santipur Picture by ABHI GHOSHWith such enthusiasm, this theatre artistes’ group in this town of Nadia, has organized an 11-day long multi-lingual international theater festival, which is quite an unusual event in such a little know town like Santipur.

During these 11 days 22 theatre groups would stage their plays in Bengali, Hindi, English, Urdu, Assamese, Santhali, Oriya and in Koushali language.

The surprising participants include theatre groups from Bangladesh, Nepal, USA and from Pakistan, apart from many other prominent theatre groups across the country.

The festival was inaugurated by eminent actor Seema Biswas on December 17 at the public library hall, which has been named for the occasion as ‘Sambhu Mitra Centenary stage’.

The inaugural play was a Hindi adaptation of Rabindra Nath Tagore’s ‘Streer Patra’ in which Seema enthralled the audience with her solo performance.

Seema famous for ‘Bandit Queen’, her biopic film on Phoolan Devi, claded in yellow saree made an indelible mark on the audience with her 45-minute performance. Her performance in ‘Streer Patra’ was a real visual treat.

Apart from Seema Biswas, the other eminent actors who would visit Santipur include Hollywood flick ‘Kundun’ and ‘Lift of Hell’ (2013) famous Robert Lin,  Suresh Sharma and Pakistani artistes Zoya Uzair, Namwar Ayaz.

Speaking about the festival she said: “I have never visited such a remote town in West Bengal. I am awfully surprised to witness that such a grand festival in small town like Santipur where even a good theatre hall is not available could be possible. I bow my head with respect before the organizers and the audience, both of whom I found too much passionate about theatre”.  

Biswasjit Biswas, a graduate from National school of drama, who is the spirit behind ‘Santipur Rangapeeth’ said: “We are also aware of the limitation and poor infrastructure in our town. So we do our job in own way. I am happy to have found a group of young girls and boys from different walks of life who can take up challenge. They have a passion for theatre for a social cause and they have taken it as a mission. So we all throughout the year try to use the theatre as a tool for better social understanding. We organize workshops in schools to sensitize students on different subjects and try to organize shows for people in the town to educate them too. It is a pleasure that Ministry of culture has come up to help us with aids, otherwise all our endeavors could not be accomplished including this theatre festival”.

About participation of foreign theatre groups in a small town like Santipur, Santipur Rangpeeth member Guruprasad Biswas said: “Theatre has no barrier. We are honored that many groups from countries like Nepal, US and Pakistan have responded to our invitation. We live in such a town where people’s socio-economic condition is not very good. Staying around 100-km away from Calcutta with such socio-economic condition, they could not quench their thirst to watch good theatre for obvious reason. So we try to bring the theatres to their door steps at least once in a year. In the NSD’s theatre festival in Delhi, we have experienced that the world of theatre has progressed a lot, but across the globe the theatre speaks for the common people. The troubles of the common people are same everywhere, the oppression of women are same worldwide. So we have some theatres which dealt with various issues of common people. Except the Pakistani and the Nepalese team, we invited most of the teams during the NSD theatre festival in Delhi”.

“We made contact with the Lahore based theatre group from Pakistan – “Independent Theatre Company” through internet. The Pakistani team would be staging their play – “Kamra No.9” in Santipur on December 27, for the first time in India”.

Director of “Independent Theatre Company” through a message said: “We are eagerly waiting for our show in Santipur. We hope it would be a unique experience”.

The 60-minute three-act play is based on legendary Pakistani playwrights Saadat Hasan Manto’s work with same title.

The other theatre for which people in Santipur have been wating eagerly is US-Nepal joint production “A night with Mao” by ‘Theatre Village” Rober Lin in the lead role. The play is based on Mao Zedong’s personal behavior and his controversial political history including some the hidden secrets about him”, Biswas said.

Santhali version of Shakespeare’s ‘Midsummer night dreams’, Dhaka’s group ‘Prangoney Mor’ production ‘Eersha” and ‘Himachal theatre repertory’s ‘Sakharam Binder’ based on Vijay Tendulkar’s work some others play which would enthrall the audience.

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