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All the capital city’s a stage
- Regional plays draw crowd

Bhubaneswar, Sept. 19: A national-level theatre festival, Natyo Utsav, which was held at Rabindra Mandap in the city, concluded on Saturday evening. Organised by the Eastern Zonal Cultural Centre (EZCC) and the state department of tourism and culture, the five-day theatre extravaganza showcased an ensemble of interesting plays.

On the first day, Manipur-based theatre group Kalakshetra staged Tagore’s acclaimed play Dak Ghar, directed by noted theatre personality Heisnam Kanhailal.

Using strong creative symbolic expressions, the play explored the definition of freedom at an abstract level. Though the script was simple and revolved around a sick child called Amal, who is awaiting freedom from the bondage of a closed room where he is confined because of illness, there were layers of meanings in the play.

Transforming the set-up of Tagore’s play into a time-independent backdrop, Kanhailal’s representation of Dak Ghar used minimal yet powerful symbolic stagecraft to portray the closed world of Amal within a circle on the centre of the stage. Manipuri folk music and dance was also engaged to give new dimensions to the theme of freedom in the play. Casting veteran dancer and actress Savitri Devi in the role of Amal was the most interesting aspect of the play. In her 60s, the actress’ effortless emotions and involvement was captivating.

The play’s interpretation of freedom was especially touching. Waiting anxiously for the physician to cure him, Amal longs to break the barriers of his closed existence. But when the physician reaches, Amal has already attained eternal freedom through death. The flower of love that his friend Sudha gives him, however, remains with Amal in his new life.

It was Shakespearean tragedy Hamlet staged by Anya Theatre from Bengal that left the viewers spellbound on the second day. Bibhash Chakraborty’s direction and Surajit Bandyopadhyay’s performance were well appreciated by the audience. Though fast paced dialogues and the contemporary costumes and setting made it difficult for the local viewers to connect with the original play, an epilogue and prologue by renowned actor Soumitra Chatterjee helped the audience to perceive the concept.

Director Ajit Das presented his popular play Nakata Chitrakar that had been appreciated in its earlier shows as well. This story by comedy-writer Faturananda was beautifully adapted for the stage. The periodic sets as well as the performances, specially by the male lead, were laudable.

Ruddha Dwar was yet another touching play of the national theatre festival. Artistes of Dhira Mallick’s troupe Satabdira Kalakar were impressive in bringing out the agonies of villagers displaced by development projects.

The drama staged on the concluding day, by artistes from Bihar’s Prangan theatre group was one of the most loved productions of the festival. Presented in typical folk style theatre, the rib-tickling comedy, Phool Nautanki Vilas, struck a chord with the audience.

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