The atmosphere is upbeat, enthusiasm is at its peak and concentration levels are at their highest as the artists can be seen rehearsing for the evening’s performance at the National School of Drama (NSD) auditorium. Every year NSD’s Repertory Company, which organizes plays at the professional level, holds the Annual Summer Theatre Festival, a one month siesta for theatre artists and fans beginning 19th May to 16th June. During this month all the action shifts to Kamani Auditorium in Mandi House and the Sammukh Auditorium in NSD campus.
Eight plays to be showcased. (BOX ITEM)
1. Baanbhatt ki Atmakatha (19th - 22nd May 2011);
2. Ram Nam Satya Hai (23rd - 26th May 2011);
3. Little Big Tragedies (27th - 29th May 2011);
4. Comrade Kunbhakaran (30th May - 2nd June 2011);
5. Blood Wedding (3rd - 5th June 2011);
6. Jaat na Poochho Sadhu ki (6th - 9th June 2011);
7. Begum ka Takiya (10th - 12th June 2011);
8. Kafka - Ek Adhyay (13th - 16th June 2011).
Prominent theatres artists from Himachal are Daksha Sharma from Mandi, and Naveen Singh Thakur from Kullu who is featuring in most of the plays as well as assisting in music direction as well. Daksha can be seen performing the role of a mother in Kafka-Ek Adhyay, which is being directed by Suresh Sharma, an eminent director with diplomas and specialization in acting from Bhartendu Natya Academy and NSD. He is credited for establishing the only non-governmental repertory in Mandi district, Himachal, which he went on to expand into a fully residential threatre academy. A recipient of numerous awards such as the Sahitya Kala Parishad and the Sangeet Natak Akademi for his play ‘Mohan’, and his other directions include ‘Andha Yug’, ‘Oedipus’, ‘Adhe Adhure’ to name a few. Kafka is seen as a psychologically complex character whose life inspired the director to study him and bring together his memoirs - in form of letters to his father - to understand his views on art, literature, theatre, cinema and youth. Based on these letters his reactions and views on different topics are analyzed.
Daksha has had quite an interesting stint at theatre as after beginning with the Himachal Culture Research Forum Theatre Academy in Mandi, she moved to Delhi in mid-2000. She joined the Shriram Centre of Performing Arts and worked with them as a professional artist until 2003. It was in 2004 that she joined the NSD Repertory Company and never looked back. She not only pursued a career in theatre but got into other aspects of production and assisted quite a few costume designers. With a passion to perform she took every challenge in stride and says, “my experience of working in NSD and Mandi are quite different. In Mandi, there is not much of professionalism as commitment towards theatre is not serious and secondly there is no professional academy or a government sponsored repertory company”. Despite the fact that her six year tenure with the NSD RC is over she continue to work as a freelancer as replacement for roles is yet to be found. She add, ‘One day I definitely plan to start my own group and since my husband too is in the NSD RC I hope that with the support and encouragement of my family I will try to achieve what I have dreamt of”.
With immense experience and a professional degree in music Naveen Singh Thakur has been able to make quite a mark at NSD which is also evident from the fact that he is featuring in almost all the plays being performed during the summer of 2011. After his graduation from Kullu and a keen interest in theatre Naveen moved to Himachal Pradesh University to pursue a degree in music. And with his passion to work as an artist he headed to Delhi and joined the Shriram Centre for two years until 2003. His hunger for learning different aspects of theatre, such as production, design and music took him to the Chandigarh Department of Indian Theatre, Punjab University where he studied for another two years and then finally in 2005 he joined the NSD RC. Naveen says, “I had no choice but to join the NSD as despite the fact that efforts were made to work professionally in Himachal, I did not get that kind of support the Himachal government or the Language, Arts & Cultural Department. Even though the remuneration received at NSD is just enough to survive but the satisfaction received as an artist is much greater than anything. My passion is work, work and work and my dedication has lead me to not only just perform but help in production and assist music directors as well”. Since Naveen can be seen performing in plays like ‘Little Big Tragedies’ directed by Ovlyakuli Khodjakuli, which keeps the sin count of humans through a process of development, ‘Comrade Kunbhakaran’ by Mohit Takalkar, a story of survival, extreme poverty and people which is perfectly performed and ‘Begum ka Takiya’ by Ranjit Kapoor, which talks about the wheel of time, he has a very hectic schedule of rehearsals and then evening performances.
Rajesh Sharma, fondly known as Raja, from Kullu is now a regular with the NSD. His first stint with theatre came when a workshop was conducted by NSD in Shimla in 1985 and then he joined the drama school in 1987. Since then he has been on a road trip pursuing what he loves the most, did a fellowship at NSD in 1990, worked for some time in Kullu and Mandi, then again moved to Delhi and worked with the Shriram Repertory Company, took few training classes for budding artist, worked as a faculty member as assigned by the NSD and now he is working as a freelancer with the NSD. He too has faced with a dismal scenario of trying to work in Himachal as promises made were not kept and since there was no support from anywhere he was forced to live in Delhi and achieve his dreams. “My future plans do include working in Kullu and at present I am working on a few stories and adapting them into plays. There is lots of talent in Himachal but there are no right opportunities and avenues to nurture those artists. Only if the state government takes initiative such as creating a repertory company can theatre flourish in Himachal”.
Theatre is becoming a popular means of entertainment not only for those performing but also for those who take a well deserved break from watching the movies. Of late in Shimla too we can now see regular performances but on a much smaller scale than the NSD, but future always hold a promise of better opportunities and hoping that the scenario will improve we may see Himachal’s own theatre repertory company one day.
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