Jeetrai Hansda in Ranchi on Monday. Picture by Hardeep Singh
Fevicol, a play, may not have helped performers qualify for a prize at a prestigious national festival in Delhi, but it did work like an adhesive among members of the group, instilling in them a sense of camaraderie and an urge to continue working to promote tribal theatre.
This was how its playwright, Jeetrai Hansda, felt after returning from the theatre festival where Fevicol was nominated for Mahindra Excellence Theatre Awards (META) 2013 in as many as seven of 13 categories, but eventually failed to bag an award.
“We got an overwhelming response from theatre lovers of the national capital and were hopeful of winning a prize till the time they were announced in the evening of March 9,” said the Santhal playwright-director who graduated from National School of Drama (NSD), New Delhi, last year.
Fevicol was one of 10 plays selected from 300 entries and nominated in seven categories — best play, best direction, best stagecraft, best actress, best supporting actress, best choreography and innovative sound design, Jeetrai told a small group of writers and theatre personalities in Ranchi en-route Jamshedpur, his hometown.
On the innovative sound design used in Fevicol, he explained that they assimilated the sound and feel of several musical instruments and used songs sung by various tribal communities of Jharkhand.
Naturally, Fevicol also had an all-tribal cast.
“I wrote the play as a part of my final-year project at NSD early last year,” Jeetrai said, adding that the storyline touches upon tribal concerns about identity, displacement and migration.
“The theme is firmly attached to tribals. Hence, the name Fevicol,” he said about his play produced under the banner of Maidi’s Artists Association of Tribals, Jamshedpur.
Jeetrai is currently working with 15 groups of tribal artistes spread over five blocks of East and West Singbhum and Seraikela-Kharsawn districts of Jharkhand and Mayurbhanj district of Odisha. While most of these tribes have been exposed to arena theatre, as in Santhali jatras, they have, however, never worked in proscenium format.
“Prizes or not, this play has drawn the attention of mainstream theatre,” opined Aswini Pankaj, a writer who kept track of the festival held in Delhi between March 3-8.