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Rabha dramatics meets Netherlands stagecraft - Dutch activist will learn and teach how to combine theatre forms in Goalpara village

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By ANUPAM BORDOLOI
  • Published 28.07.10
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Guwahati, July 27: Rabha theatre is going Dutch!

A few days from now, a theatre activist from the Netherlands will arrive at Rampur, a small village in Goalpara district, to learn and teach how to combine contemporary stagecraft with Rabha folk elements for a unique theatrical experiment.

Hosting the Dutch theatre activist will be the Badungduppa theatre group, led by the passionate stage activist Sukracharjya Rabha, who was honoured by the Sangeet Natak Akademi with the Bismillah Khan Award this year.

Rabha said Jet Remmers, a 23-year-old theatre activist from Arnhem, a city in the north of the Netherlands, will stay for about three weeks from August 2 at the Badungduppa base at Rampur, which is the cradle of Rabha stagecraft.

Badungduppa is a traditional Rabha musical instrument made of bamboo and is an integral part of the community’s cultural heritage.

The Badungduppa theatre group, started by Rabha in 1998, is a partner of Theatre Embassy of the Netherlands, an NGO working in collaborative programmes across the world and using the stage as a source of both entertainment and education.

An official spokesperson for Theatre Embassy said Remmers’ work would be mainly with children. “She will also work with other members of the group and show how they can develop educational workshops for bettering their performances”.

“The goal (of Remmers) is bring in more people — adults and children — to the theatre movement of Badungduppa so as to raise awareness about the power of their own culture, traditions and rituals,” the spokesperson added.

The 32-year-old Rabha — who admitted to being saddled with greater responsibility after winning the Bismillah Khan award — added that at the end of her stay, Remmers would stage her own production at the Badungduppa stage at Rampur. Rabha, who uses drama as a tool for social change, especially among his own community, has also been invited by the Sangeet Natak Akademi to stage his group’s play at the national capital on August 15.

“It is an honour to be invited to Delhi for a performance. We will be staging Madaiah the cobbler, adapted from the original Kannada play by Prof. H.S. Shivraj,” he said.

The play, a commentary on the need for a balance between man and nature, will be staged at Kamani auditorium.

Rabha’s group will perform again in Delhi on September 14 during a Northeast theatre festival organised by the National School of Drama (NSD).

It was because of the invitation by the Akademi that Rabha had to cancel his trip to Brazil this month to attend the World Congress of the International Drama/Theatre and Education Association, an annual event which celebrates theatre in contemporary forms.

“The temptation of performing in front of a distinguished gathering in Delhi was too much to resist. And more importantly, the journey, for us, lies in theatre itself,” added Rabha, who was once a student of the master from Manipur, Heisnam Kanhailal.