The stage is set

Last Updated: Fri, Jan 07, 2011 20:10 hrs

The 13th edition of National School of Drama’s Bharat Rang Mahotsav offers you more than 80 plays to choose from

Life in the land of the Pashtuns is anything but easy. Less so for the women. Yet there are those who dare to break the mould and challenge the oppressive diktats, despite threats to their life. Monireh Hashemi is one such woman. Through the medium of theatre — an art form which lies suppressed in a country where guns have replaced the sound of music — Hashemi is struggling to draw attention to the hopeless condition of women in Afghanistan. This time too, the plight of the women of her land, their notions of liberty and their definitions of happiness and sorrow, will be the focus of her play, Stones and Mirrors, that will be performed at the annual Bharat Rang Mahotsav.

The two-week-long 13th Bharat Rang Mahotsav by National School of Drama, which was inaugurated in the capital last evening with Habib Tanvir’s play Charandas Chor, brings to the stage many such stories of oppression, political turmoil, hope and sacrifice. Over 80 plays have been packed into a tight schedule.

Since 1999, when the festival was first held, it has grown in scale and content. This year, for the first time, the theatre festival — one of Asia’s largest — will host productions from over 20 countries. For some of them, like Argentina, Bolivia, Ukraine, Serbia and Egypt, this will be the maiden performance at the festival. The repertoire is vast. There are three theatre productions from France alone: Le Barbier de Seville, the classic opera by one of the greatest French comic playwrights, Pierre de Beaumarchais, InVivo, a dance piece, and Silent Words, a mime performance. Apart from Latin America, which has a sizeable presence, theatre groups from China, Japan, Korea, Iran, Singapore, Nepal, Sri Lanka and Pakistan, are converging on Delhi.

The Indian component will see works of contemporary playwrights like Girish Karnad and Dharamvir Bharati being staged alongside classics like Ibsen’s Lady of the Sea and Alexander Pushkin’s Little Big Tragedies. And can any theatre festival be complete without Shakespeare’s Othello and Macbeth?

Nineteen chosen productions will travel to Chennai for a parallel festival to be held from January 11 to 20. As homage to veteran thespian, director and actor Shyamanand Jalan, who died in May last year, excerpts from five plays directed by him will also be presented.From conventional theatre to puppet plays and mimes, from dance and choreographed pieces to experimental work in the new media like social gaming, the festival will try to explore a range of styles and subjects.

NSD Chairperson Amal Allana says she would like people to see the festival as more than "a gala event". "It has to be a teaching and a learning platform, one which develops and furthers the theatre movement," she says.

(Bharat Rang Mahotsav is on till January 22. Play schedule and ticket info on