Theatre thrives like anything in Kolkata. And Kolkatans have always loved exposure to international theatre. For the last few years, an international theatre festival is being organised by Kalindi Bratyajon, whose director is the noted theatre personality and West Bengal tourism minister, Bratya Basu. The fourth edition of this much-awaited International Theatre Festival 2015 began on June 4 at the Academy of Fine Arts. This year, groups from Sri Lanka, France, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Burundi, besides a few from Kolkata, would grace the festival.
Interestingly, the plays that have been lined up have strong socio-political messages. For example, the play Payanihal by Sri Lankan group Janakaraliya, to be staged on Sunday, is a collaboration between Tamil and Sinhalese thespians. After 1983, with the rise of the LTTE and the Tamil separatist movement in Sri Lanka, the relation between the Tamil and Sinhalese populations in the island nation came to an end. There was mistrust and, as a result, there were no joint productions. Now that things are gradually going back to normal, the collaborations have restarted, and Payanihal is one of these early collaborations. The play is directed by Selvaraj Leelavathi and Ronika Chamali, the former a Tamil and the latter, a Sinhalese.
The Mist, by France's Aleph Theatre, was staged on Friday, is equally interesting. It is directed by Oscar Castro Ramirez. Ramirez is ecstatic to be part of the festival. According to Bratya Basu, rarely has someone like Ramirez been to such a festival in India. The Chilean was imprisoned by the General Augusto Pinochet regime due to his theatre. He was released on the condition that he would leave the country. He sought exile in France, where he has been since 1976.
Pakistan's contribution will be Stumped by Napa Repertory Theatre (NAPA), to be staged on June 7. Directed by Zain Ahmed, it tackles the issue of corruption in the fabric of the nation through the metaphor of cricket.
Prachyanat of Bangladesh will stage Tragedy of Polashbari, directed by Azad Abul Kalam. A group from Burundi will perform Black Beats of Africa.
The festival would end on June 9 with the staging of Boma by Basu’s Kalindi Bratyajon.
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