Bhubaneswar, Nov. 15: The charm of folk theatre, which was once vibrant in villages across the state, came alive at Natya Gram, a theatre village near Khurda created by the group Natya Chetana. The centre was bustling with participants of the People’s Theatre Festival organised on the occasion of silver jubilee celebrations of the group. The festival concluded on Tuesday.
The six-day People’s Theatre Festival — that ran into its 15th edition this year — began on November 10. Focusing completely on traditional folk theatre, the festival started with a procession by the artistes and delegates of Natya Chetana that includes dramatists from India, Korea, Belgium, Finland, Thailand, Japan, USA, Bangladesh, Canada and France. The artistes walked along the streets of nearby villages beating drums and playing tribal music. Workshops and seminars on reviving folk theatre were held at the event everyday with experts interacting with the artistes.
“Korean theatre expert Kim shared his ideas about voice culture while Patrick from France taught us about playful activities involved to make children’s theatre interesting. We were also given lessons on exercises necessary for stage artistes. Participating in the event has turned into a life-changing experience for me,” said a young dramatist.
Evenings at the festival were mostly dedicated to performances of dance and drama groups from different villages throughout the state. The drama Pani, staged by young students from Angul, was poignant for its theme while Sosa, performed by artistes of Natya Chetana, was equally moving.
These plays were staged on the opening day while plays Sansar (by a group from Bargarh), Sabara (Sonepur), Mankada (Jatni) and Kaatha by Natya Chetana artistes were performed in the last few days. Korean artistes presented Tartuffe while a team from Bargarh presented a drama titled Mahapuru on Monday. Folk dance forms such as dhaap and bagha naata that used to be a part of folk drama were also presented daily at the festival.
Natya Gram has a residential facility and infrastructure for training in different aspects of theatre. Natya Chetana founder Subodh Patnaik started it in 1990. Arrangements for training in tribal dance, puppetry and other folk performing arts were also made here.
“The festival always aims at reviving folk theatre, which we call people’s theatre. This year, all the events were based on the theme “future”. Hence, we organised discussions and workshops on future of folk theatre, tribal theatre, humanity and folk artistes,” said Patnaik.