Tuesday, September 27, 2005

New directors on the block

New directors on the block
New Indian Express

“The stage is not merely the meeting place of all the arts, but is also the return of art to life” - Oscar Wilde.

Having grown up in a house called ‘Green Room’, it is but natural for Prakash Belawadi to organise a theatre festival to repay what he has drawn from life. That is how the Bias-Art Mantram Young Directors’ Theatre Festival ‘05 took shape.

“It is a directors’ festival because we wanted to give the freedom to directors to pick their plays and groups. This will definitely be a new experiment,” says Prakash Belawadi.

The festival opens on Tuesday at Rangashankara with ‘Harinabhisarana’, a Pu Ti Na play in Kannada by Samasti, directed by Manjunath Badiger.

It will be followed by ‘The Respectful Prostitute’ by Jean Paul Sartre, staged by Samudaya, its first production in English in 23 years, directed by Naresh, on Sept 28.

The First Act will present the Kannada play ‘Kalinga’ on September 29, directed by Veelya Raghavendra. ‘Shadows in the Dark’, Sriranga’s play translated by Usha Desai, is directed by Srikrishan for Version One dot Oh! on Sept 30.

P Lankesh’s ‘Polisariddare Echcharike’ will be staged by Natana on October 1, directed by Arun Murthy, and on October 2, will present ‘Honey Let’s Break Up’, written and directed by Pawan Kumar.

The jury system will have three judges and the spectators also get to grade the plays. The overall popularity will be decided by the number of tickets sold and the seat count.

Based on these three aspects, the play adjudged best will get Rs 50,000 and the second best play will get Rs 25,000. “And each group will make at least Rs 10,000” says Belawadi. The directors are all below 25, but it is surprising that there are no woman directors in the festival. Each play promises something fresh as the directors are working towards different destinations.

Says Srikrishna, who has directed several plays like ‘Harvey’, ‘Listen Janamejaya’ and Dario Fo’s ‘Cant Pay Won’t Pay’, which ran to packed houses, “Putting up a Sriranga play was highly satisfying because of the way the audience responded.

“The Bias festival will definitely bring more likeminded people into theatre and erase the language barrier.” For Naresh, however, directing an English play was equally challenging because of language politics.

“I chose Sartre because his existential theory argues that everyone has the right to live. Only a play can create a need and only need can facilitate creation,” says Naresh.

Having worked with under-privileged children and teaching them theatre, Naresh is far from competing. “It’s just a presentation of six ideas. There cannot be ompetition in theatre,” he says.

Pawav Kumar’s ‘Honey Let’s Break Up’ is about relationships. “It is presented in eight parts, each part signifying a specific metaphor”.

Having staged many successful plays like ‘The Final Rehearsal’ and ‘Evam Indrajit’ and ‘Sleuth’, Pawan Kumar is a director to look forward to. The surprise item of the festival is Manjunath Badiger who is a Ninasam product. His experience in Yakshagana has made him integrate Yakshagana elements into ‘Harinabhisarana’, a musical.

Veelya Raghavendra’s ‘Kalinga’ is about emperor Ashoka and the dilemma of violence and non-violence. P Lankesh’s ‘Polisariddare Echcharike’ is about the persecution complex and Arun Kumar feels it is very relevent.

The festival is supported by Art Mantram. The play starts at 7.30 PM every day at Rangashankara. Tickets are available at the venue.


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