THEIR Stand With Theatre, SO The Theatre Stands

THEIR Stand With Theatre, SO The Theatre Stands

Life is a stage and we all are just the characters playing respective roles. But dramas in real life take place without rehearsal. Talking about theatres, the history of theatre harks back decades ago with variation in it according to time. Greek theatre, Renaissance theatre, English theatre and many theatres got shape. And when it’s about plays, William Shakespeare tops the list.

All these mark the history of theatres internationally. In Nepal there are theatres but when plays and theatres are talked together, major three comes on the front. One definitely must have come in most of the mouth. In addition to that, there are two whose movement in the world of drama has already made an impact on people’s life. Those three are Sarwanam, Gurukul and Shailee.

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. And where thinking is easy, acting is difficult, and to put one’s thoughts into action is the most difficult thing. Here are these moving with same enthusiasm and dedicating the theatrical live that once was rare in Nepali society.

SARWANAM

Everything has its own story behind it and Sarwanam’s story exists with the story of one man. Since the time when dramas got its shape with hardships, lost its existence and again came back, this man had a big role for giving life to plays again. It was Ashesh Malla whose interest and talent gave rise to the dramatic world establishing himself not only as an actor in plays but also as a scriptwriter. Sarwanam perhaps is the result of his dedication towards plays. In some way introducing Ashesh Malla may not be needed but still Sarwanam is incomplete without him.

Born in Dhankuta, existing scenario of that time had a great influence upon his life. “Dramas acted out in big ground with huge stage that used to take 5-6 months to be made, stage with created scenes in curtain and my parents going to Calcutta to get colors to make scenes, when there was even no proper transportation, it had an immense impression over me of dramatic scenario at that time”, shared Ashesh.

Later, dramas decreased as it was quite expensive. It, in fact, stopped completely. But with his growing age, his interest for dramas increased and he stepped in drama and formed a group. With this group, plays were reappearing in the society and the response was the huge crowd in the audience. But script was what lacked the most at that time. Always writing stories and poems, Ashesh made a stand as a scriptwriter on friend’s suggestion. “Never had I seen any plays till then nor had I written any plays, I decided to write one. It was in the year 2032. There used to be farmers who used to work on our field and with whom I used to stay. I once saw the two farmer brothers fighting on some personal matters. Keeping that on mind, I wrote Tuwanlole Dhakeko Basti”, Ashesh recalled the time that changed him as a playwright. It went house full even at that time.

Then the play was carried out in Dharan, Biratnagar, Janakpur and Birgunj and collected little money from the shows. And by walking 12-13 days, the group reached Kathmandu. It was his first visit in Kathmandu. In Academy Hall, the very play was shown and again received house full response. Carried out for about a month, it made Ashesh popular playwright in few nights. “I was also in the lead role in that play. The queue for ticket used to stretch as far back as Ganesthan. Whatever little we earned from that we divided shared half with Nepal Academy hall and our group. I got 3-4000. I then joined MA in TU. All my friends who came along with me returned to Dhankuta. But I never had to return back since then”, he recalled.

Time when he rose as a playwright was the time of Panchayat System. Being very cautious, he went on with his works albeit it was very tough. He did plays in TU during his enrollment and is continuing till today. Always loving to do play, develop theatre and have democracy, his plays used to portray democracy and politics in general. It was frustrating because of 2 things: space, renting halls were very expensive, space was a big problem therefore and the other thing was group. He felt without a group he cannot move on. So, he formed Sarwanam. And that is how Sarwanam actually came into existence. So far Sarwanam has done hundreds of plays which are all his and as per the best play, its Kumarji Agya Aarnu Huncha.

As having every equipment and techno required for play seemed impossible and to wait for government to provide all these would take ages, an alternative was thought of and that generated street drama. He wrote a play Hami Basanta Khojirahechau that was the first time any group had experimented in Kirtipur’s Coordination Garden with audience in circle. As it was the first play in street, people were amazed to see the form of play. This brought a movement that plays can be done on streets as well. We took street dramas side by side then after. Also, as expression of emotion is a play, without any material, equipment, props plays were given shape through body language.

Living 30 years with his dream to have art, literature, theatre under one roof, Sarwanam is going to have a new face. Sarwanam’s new theatre, also termed as alternative theatre is Sarwanam’s main achievement. Built in Kalikasthan, it shall be inaugurated at the end of this month or in the first week of Bhadra with Sakuni Pasaharu play. “I dreamt of such a house where there will be daily plays performed, painting exhibition, acting training, research on theatre, art, where artists, writers, actors can come and sit together and talk. It became true now after years”, cheered Ashesh.

There is a vast difference in films and theatre. Both are arts, its just that the way of expression differs. But the liveliness found in theatre is not there in film. Why people love to see plays is for its liveliness. Theatre is the mirror of experience. Civilization is displayed by theatre. Physical development may be taken as development of malls and skyscrappers but the symbol of civilization is theatre, art, literature

GURUKUL

Coming up with anything new as a breakthrough, is never easy. There is an element of risk and there are challenges. Actually the whole path seems like a challenge. But as an old saying goes “You can win nothing until and unless you are prepared to suffer”, this surely seems to fit here as the pioneers of Arohan kept their 2 years at stake to give Arohan a shape.

So in 1982, the time when dramas were not performed very often, time when having a place of own and doing daily shows were out of imagination, they took up the challenge giving no second thought. And as a major part of Arohan, Gurukul came in 2003 with people still skeptical to what they were trying to do.

Excited to know more about Gurukul, I met the man behind the plays, Sunil Pokharel co-founder and one of the directors of plays in Gurukul. He started talking about the initial stage of Gurukul. “In the beginning when we said we would be doing regular performances, people did not believe that. Is it possible in Nepal as well?” Somewhere it was an obvious reply as the situation was with no much familiarity to plays. He recalled, “There were times when we had to perform for 2 audiences as well. But then with time the numbers increased to 7, 11 and now they are doing the shows to the capacity crowd mostly. Sometimes we have to do even three performances. So, it took us 8-9 years to come here.”

Starting with the play Agniko Katha- Fire in the Monastery by Abhi Subedi, till date perhaps around 15 plays had been acted out by Gurukul. Only 15! It may surprise you. But it will amaze you even more that no play has been performed less than 50 times. In fact, A Doll’s House has been done more than 200 times and that is quite splendid as well as ironic as it was the very play where there were only 2 spectators. And today after presenting amazing performances and plays, here it is with it’s best plays as Agniko Katha, A Doll’s House (response was good here and abroad as well), Ghanchakkar, Sapanako Sabitri, Karnali Dakkhin Bagdo chha and Suina Karnaliko. They even act out street dramas.

Journeyed in different parts of world like Norway, Denmark, Russia, China, different cities of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, South Korea, England, and many others imparting its magical plays, Gurukul has been a part of people these days. Though the plays are presented in the evening, nothing seems to stop the adorers of Gurukul and its plays from showing up at the theatre. That’s not even the best part. The audience arrives on time. That is because the shows begin on time.

Today Gurukul, ergo, is an established name that is still planning to approach with bigger form. They have own property of Gurukul with a team as a Purbanchal branch in Biratnagar. But due to some problems, they couldn’t continue there. Besides, they are planning on reviving it soon with a festival. In addition to that, they even have a dream to flourish all over Nepal with Gurukul.

When Gurukul is brought to a talk, what people mostly think about is theatre. But theatre is one major part of Gurukul. It, in fact, carries other aspects as well like solo poetry that is held on last Saturday of every month in ticket, Sastriya Sankranti done with Nepali classical music on the first day of every month, painting exhibitions, workshops, and others. All in all, it has tried to cover as much ground as possible when it comes to art.

Inspired from one of Sunil’s long time friends Ramesh Budhathoki, actor/director of Nepali film industry, Sunil chose to come into theatres. Saying there’s no particular method in any play, play comes as it is and one just has to adopt with it, Sunil highlighted what exactly it takes to come up with a play and added that as challenging as it is to make it better, to make it different, challenge is what makes this form of art an experience like no other.

So, with those thoughts behind Arohan, they have reached where they are now. With great success and appreciation that they are rejoicing now they didn’t have to deduct 2 years of their life. Sunil had the sign of relief and sheer happiness saying, “We made our minds and said let’s try for 2 years; if not, we could get back and move on in any path as desired. We put those 2 years of life on the line. Still we had hopes that if we did it every day it would work out though late, but we did not have to get back to those 2 years. We are glad our gamble paid off.”

With 32 full-timers in Kathmandu, 12-14 in Biratnagar and others as volunteers, Gurukul will be continuing its journey with a dream to have a branch in Butwal and theatre centers, institutions and museums all over Nepal someday. Where internationally a play requires 8 weeks to rehearse, Gurukul comes up, in fact, has to come up with the play ready within 3 to 10 days or 12 days, at the most.

“Theatre is not an importance but a choice. You will see if you like and you won’t if you don’t like.”

SHAILEE

Still in its initial phase, we must say, Shailee have already started to root strongly in the dramatic world. Two years completed and running on its 3rd year, Shailee were the outcome of people’s love for plays that has grown in an amazing degree since past few years. Moving on forming one group to another that did well but couldn’t be active finally came Shailee as the perfect way that Nabaraj Budhathoki, who leads the Shailee, had thought of bringing a theatre as.

Where Shailee are today and how they came into existence have a story behind it. “I started my journey in acting since 2053-2054, got trained in Nach Ghar and had my 1st play as Basanti by Diamond Shamser Rana”, said Nabaraj. After coming out as a student of Nach Ghar, his talent was already polished and what he needed now was a medium to put it into proper exercise. Then after 1 year learning from Nach Ghar, formed Akhyann Art Group with few members. He acted out in plays like U Mareki Chaina, Ranadullav, in main character.

But a conscience to have something for schooling children led to the start of Pumpkin Theatre in 2057/58. To run it they turned out the store room of Saipal Academy, which used to be in Baneswor years back, into a hall and carried out dramas like Banko Chari Banmai Ramauche, Sishir Basanta- direction by him. And again with the increasing number of talents coming out from Nach Ghar, an organization named Saan was opened with them that made the hall of Nach Ghar available for plays to them. They did many plays together but it got passive later. There was Nabaraj then taking a different step starting Saath Saath theatre to bring back the street children home. “I felt drama was the strongest medium to do that. They refused to come for study and training but when it was about drama, they agreed. With them we did 2-3 dramas like Adhyaro Baato, Aale. It was challenging but nice”, smiled Nabaraj recalling those times. What was the outcome of that effort??? Well as he told, few of the street children even got on right track and now some are school goers and some are in college.

It was the last step when he realized a break from general dramatic world. For children he did but that was not what he was actually looking for. They just happened to happen. So, then came SHAILEE, with 16 members now. Shailee carry out regular plays, Thursdays at 4:30 P.M., and do street dramas as well. In two years, Shailee have 2 major achievements: regular play every Thursday (in ticket) and Bal Natak Mahotsav (Children Drama Festival) every year. And Shailee family are proud of these. So far, around 13 dramas (Nepali as well as Russian) have been done by Shailee. Having contact with the Russian Culture Centre, they got an access to the centre and so do rehearsals and plays there.

Among all the plays performed by Shailee, by far, Sarap Bhayeko Des, Golden Peace and Sarkari Nirikshyak are their best performances. Drama has such a powerful way of displaying anything that keeping its essence, Shailee run Kuri Kuri Natya Abhiyan against social incongruous and bikriti; a satirical action. In these two years they also have given training to 3 groups and that shows where Shailee are heading towards. They organized Sastriya Sangit (Classical Music) on the occasion of Guru Purnima (teacher’s day). And in near future Shailee wish to cover art related everything.

Having been lived a theatrical life and even played in some serials, Nabaraj shared the differences between film and theatre. “In theatre the actor is in his character till it ends. Most difficult is in theatre but most interesting as well. Movie is directors medium. On the other hand, actor’s medium is theatre; director is just a facilitator. Theatre is an artist medium.”

“Theatre is an art, art without money, done for interest. It’s like Classical Music that requires high dedication; it’s seen as scholar’s part. But the credit goes to Gurukul. People get eager to go to watch drama in Gurukul and that has increased spectators in Shailee as well. As craze for drama is getting more and again it’s Gurukul that have increased the craze for plays.”

P.S.: Shailee credits Gurukul for dramas and Gurukul credits Sarwanam. In the sense, Sarwanam are undoubtedly the pioneer of the theatre in this tiny country.

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