Play Mates from Punjab

The varied colours of Punjab’s stagecraft is playing out in Delhi at present.

Written by Parul Bajaj | Published: February 23, 2012 3:57 am

The ongoing Punjabi Heritage Theatre Festival showcases the latest hits from Punjab’s theatrescape

The varied colours of Punjab’s stagecraft is playing out in Delhi at present. The Punjabi Heritage Theatre Festival,aimed at showcasing the latest theatre experiments from the state,has brought together directors from Chandigarh,Moga and Amritsar as well as Delhi.

Opening the festival on February 20 was Khadd,a play by Pali Bhupinder Singh,the eminent academician,playwright and director of Off Stage,a theatre group based in Moga. In sensitive detail,the play revealed the superstitions that plague the deras of Punjab . The festival,organised by Delhi Punjabi Academy,“give audiences outside Punjab a look at what’s new in theatre in the state,” says Rawail Singh,secretary of the Academy.

The next day,Amritsar-based Kewal Dhaliwal presented his latest production Drishtidaan,based on a short story by Rabindranath Tagore. The play,revolving around a girl who becomes blind after marriage,had diyas,Bengali rangoli and flowers on stage. “The play had to be visually stunning to convey what she has lost and gained. The presentation was a challenge since I had never worked with such a character before,” says the director.

On Wednesday,Delhi’s theatre audience got a rare chance to revisit Punjab in its pre-Sikh period. Playwright and theatre director Atamjit’s Panchnad Da Paani was a play based on two historical short stories,written by Manmohan Bawa. Though set in 13th Century Punjab,the play brings to fore issues of contemporary times,both social and political.

This evening,Delhi-based Ravi Taneja’s production Mangoo Te Bikkar,turns the audience attention towards the pain and pathos of ageing men and women. And,far down the spectrum,Chandigarh-based Neelam Man Singh brings alive the emotions of a woman in the play Stree Patra,to be staged on February 24.

“This story by Tagore,without drama,any remarkable incidents or highs and lows is,nonetheless,absorbing,” says the director. Written in 1914,the story revolves around a wife’s letter to her husband,after she has left him. “It gives primacy to a woman’s point of view,contrasting the conflicting identities of women in the modern and traditional set-ups,within the context of sweeping historical changes,” notes Singh.

The plays are being staged at Shri Ram Centre till February 24. Contact: 23714307

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