TODAY -

Ratan Thiyam to highlight social issues
Source: Hueiyen News Service / Manipur Information Centre

New Delhi, April 30 2011: "I am a theatre person and theatre is a social phenomenon.

I am painfully aware of what is happening in my State.

I also know that for the last 3000 years theatre has been speaking against a wrong system and demanding justice but I am not a politician," commented internationally acclaimed theatre director Ratan Thiyam on the situation in Manipur.

Thiyam was speaking when he received the Chaman Lal Memorial award for his overall contribution to the world of theatre.

"My Imphal Imphal' (1982) reflects the then students' unrest.

Since then Manipur has radically changed socially, politically and economically.

My Manipur Trilogy is a comment on the prevailing unrest in the state and people's protest against the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act." To express his solidarity with his people he had returned the Padma Shri award conferred on him by the Central Government.

Multi-faceted, Thiyam is writer, poet and painter and his mother and father were dancers.

He joined the National School of Drama and after graduation went back to his grass roots.

Drawing from the rich art forms of his people Ratan inherited and enriched his knowledge of theatre.

He went to produce many memorable plays and established the Chorus Repertory Theatre in 1976 in Imphal.

Thiyam has termed it the 'laboratory' to carry out experiments to evolve a living theatre tradition.

"There is no money in theatre.

It is a challenge to establish such a repertory which regularly produce plays.

There are 30 artistes on the staff.

There are no stars.

The freshness of their creativity and the happiness involved in the very act of creation are their true rewards.

My idea of theatre training is to develop acting skills and exposure to multiple traditional, folk and traditional forms but to give the opportunity to act in different styles and at different levels.

Ratan left the post of Director of National School of Drama and was assigned the position of vice president of Sangeet Natak Akademi recently.

Among his masterpieces which include Sophocles' "Antigone", adapted as "Lengshonnei", and "Chakravyuha" assumes a special place.

Premiered in 1984, "Chakravyuha" catapulted Thiyam into national fame.

This production has so far made more than 150 performances in India and abroad.

We are planning a new version of this play with new breed of actor-dancers.

There is excitement in the repertory" .

Thiyam has directed only two plays in Hindi, and that too a long way back.

"Hindi theatre have many good directors.

Moreover, the kind of theatre I am doing needs incessant practical and research work which leaves little time for me to work outside its parameters.

We are struggling for survival and the repertory is becoming bigger and bigger.

We have to perform to raise funds," comments Thiyam on his inability to direct Hindi plays.

Among his various expansion programmes is the creation of an art gallery to be named after Ebrahim Alkazi.

"It is my humble token of Guru Dakshina," he says in a voice full of reverence for the great teacher of theatrical art and the doyen of Indian theatre.


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