The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Support script: Stage set for new-age partner

An age-old method of communication has found a new-age partner. Hutch, the city-based cellular operator, has decided to support unique theatre ideas till their implementation on stage.

Come July 5, the first such play, Somoy-asomoyer brittanto, will be staged at Rabindra Sadan during Odeon 2003, the annual theatre show promoted by Hutch. The event will be held over two weekends, starting June 26, and four plays, including at least one each in Hindi and English, will be staged at Rabindra Sadan and GD Birla Sabhagar. The festivities will include panel discussions and seminars on issues affecting theatre.

“During the last two festivals, we brought some of the best theatre productions from various parts of the country to Calcutta. But we also realised that we must try to support local groups, so that they can match the best both within and outside the country,” said Sunil Sood, chief operating officer, Hutch.

In a bid to scout for “worth-supporting ideas”, a list of 22 groups was drawn up and detailed project reports were invited from them. A panel comprising theatre personality Samik Bandyopadhyay, theatre critic Pabitra Sarkar and veteran director Bibhas Chakraborty screened the reports on the basis of quality play and the support required for staging the play for the first time. Finally, four groups were shortlisted for interviews. At the end of the five-month exercise, that started in December 2002, Sumon Mukhopadhyay’s emerged as the chosen one in April.

“I was sitting on the script for over two-and-a-half years. The play needed a lot of investment in technology to create the proper audio-visual impact. But I didn’t have the finances,” said Mukhopadhyay, who runs Chetana, a 32-year-old theatre group. Support from corporates has become “critical” for the survival of this art, that needs both “technology and acting”, he felt.

Theatre personality Sohag Sen, adviser to Odeon, added: “Theatre can’t survive on its own and it needs institutional support. We need more initiatives like this.”

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