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Theatre: ‘A bundle of variations’

LiveMint logoLiveMint 22-05-2014 Chanpreet Khurana

National School of Drama (NSD) director Waman Kendre calls them a bundle of variations, and NSD Repertory Company chief Suresh Sharma describes them as a bouquet of many colours, textures and experiences. The six productions in the Summer Theatre Festival that began in the Capital on Thursday are by six different directors, and give a taste of different types of styles, forms and presentations in modern-day theatre practice in India.

For example, says Kendre, Virasat by former institute director Anuradha Kapur is an “intimate theatre production”. Based on Mahesh Elkunchwar’s play of the same name, the 3-hour, 10-minute production is staged outdoors on a “3D set” and “takes you into a family’s home”, he explains. In contrast, K.N. Panikkar’s Chhaya Shakuntalam is a highly stylized adaptation of Kalidas’ famous story in the Koodiyattam traditional theatre form based on the Natya Shastra, and is presented on a proscenium stage with a minimalist set design.

The plays—a mix of old and new productions—are a sort of best-of compilation of works by the NSD Repertory Company. Besides Kapur’s Virasat and Panikkar’s Chhaya Shakuntalam, the summer festival programme includes Anoop Trevedi’s Dafa 292, Ramesh Talwar’s Khalid Ki Khala, AadamzaadAnd Panchlight by Ranjit Kapoor, and Jaat Hi Poochho Sadhu Ki by Rajinder Nath.

Sharma says even in terms of story, plot and treatment, the six plays are different from each other. “Where Virasat is a story about the disintegration of the joint family system and its effect on our society, Chhaya Shakuntalam asks the question what kind of man-woman equality we are talking about in a world where women’s security is still a cause for concern,” he says in Hindi.

In terms of subject range, Sharma adds, there’s the biographical drama Dafa 292 on the life of controversial Urdu writer Saadat Hasan Manto, a political comment on the quality of education and power dynamics in our villages in Jaat Hi Poochho Sadhu Ki, and a farce in Khalid Ki Khala, a boy-meets-girl story that also talks about our cultural milieu.

“This is also the birth centenary of Begum Qudsia Zaidi (writer and theatre person), who adapted Khalid Ki Khala to the Indian context from the more than hundred-year-old play Charley’s Aunt,” says Sharma. He adds, “We are paying tribute to Begum Qudsia; she contributed many adaptations and translations to our library.”

What can visitors expect? “These plays are by the repertory company, and are the face of the NSD,” says Kendre. So viewers can expect to see plays that have been produced “seriously”, he adds.

The National School of Drama’s Summer Theatre Festival is on till 14 June. Timings and venues vary. Tickets, starting from `30, available at the NSD Repertory, Bahawalpur House, Bhagwan Das Road, New Delhi. For the full schedule, visit

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