Promote regional theatre

Rajeshwar Singh ‘Raju’
“All the World’s a stage
And all the men and the women merely players
They have their exits and their entrances
And one man in his time plays many parts
His acts being seven ages.”
Says William Shakespeare, an eminent English poet and playwright.
Yes, we are all players and are playing our part in life which is in fact a drama full of all twists. The creator of this universe is the playwright who ensures that we do perform at our level best and are being led by time.


Now, as a performer in life we have to ensure to live our role in such a way that it should not have conflicts with others like in a theatre play we are bound to cooperate with the fellow actors while getting reciprocated with the same feel thus making the production a captivating and thought provoking one.
Theatre imparts us education to live life in its real terms. That’s why we come across so many theatre activists and theatre lovers advocating the significance of ‘Theatre in Education’ and demand for introducing theatre as a subject right from schools. How much theatre has importance in our life is well summed up by Oscar Wilde, prolific Irish poet and playwright with these words, “I regard the theatre as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.”
Theatre is given such an importance across globe that every year a day dedicated to theatre is celebrated all over the world.
March 27th…
World Theatre day…
This is a special day.
It was Director Arvi Kivimaa of the Finnish Branch of the World Theatre Academy who first suggested the establishment of a World Theatre Day during the International Theatre Institutes’ 9th World Congress in Helsinki in June 1961 and again in Vienna in June 1962. International Theatre Institute was created by UNESCO and novelist JB Priestly.
Just like in all other parts of globe, 27th March is celebrated with all enthusiasm in Jammu also. Different theatre groups celebrate this day with their creative inputs in the form of theatre productions or interaction on different aspects of theatre and problems faced by local theatre groups in regular productions etc.
On this auspicious day, what I feel to share is that regional cultural academies were established with the sole purpose of providing platforms to regional talent so that they could exhibit their potential in their own mother tongue. We may say that their foremost responsibility was to promote regional language and culture, but to utter dismay there seems no such policy at least for theatre which results in theatre groups discarding the regional language while submitting their proposals for theatre festivals. As there is no binding that mother tongue of the region should be preferred, the theatre groups opt to present already performed popular Hindi plays. Although there is no malice with Hindi plays or plays of any other language but to what direction we are heading, is a matter of concern? If our local theatre groups do not be perform Dogri plays, who else will take the call? As a cultural activist, isn’t it our duty to encash the opportunities for preserving and promoting our own language and traditions?
It needs to be added here that Jammu & Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages (JKAACL) which has now become a society organizes Annual Drama Festivals every year. Very recently JKAACL organized a theatre festival and it is a matter of grave concern that all the seven plays performed in the festival were in Hindi language. Cultural Academy needs to have a vital clause in the norms that maximum of the plays to be presented in the festival should be in regional language i.e. Dogri in Jammu and Kashmiri. Although, it is a good sign that at Srinagar festival, majority of plays were performed in Kashmiri language thanks to regional theatre groups who realize that it’s their duty to take advantage of the opportunities offered by Cultural Academy to promote their own language and cultural traditions. I think Jammu Theatre groups should seek a lesson from them in this regard and live up to the expectations of theatre lovers of Jammu region in future.
What I wish to tell them is that whosoever has worked on the plays written in regional language and has explored regional folk and cultural traditions in his productions has carved a niche for him not only locally but at national and international level too. If any theatre director wishes to survive in this vast field, then he or she has to put forth some extraordinary concept so as to cast an impression on theatre lovers and critics. It’s a fact that it may happen only if we concentrate on our grass roots.
The way Padmashri Balwant Thakur has excelled as a theatre activist and has brought laurels to the motherland is because of the fact that his outstanding theatre productions like BAWA JITTO and GHUMAYEE are in Dogri, the mother tongue of inhabitants of the region. Through these plays of regional language having regional flavor packed with cultural traditions and folk elements he created magic on the stage not only in Jammu but across the nation and abroad too. It gave a new identity to regional theatre. In fact it is the basic mantra to excel in any field. Even Mushtaq kak and Deepak Kumar have also earned name and fame with their much talked about productions in Dogri language. New Theatre Directors should realize it that if they wish to establish themselves as outstanding talent then they have to work on regional culture and language.
This year the theme of World Theatre Day 2023 is “Theatre and a Culture of Peace”. It itself depicts to what extent theatre has a role to play in World order. The world is undergoing a tough time at present owing to militancy, epidemics, financial crisis and even Ukraine War and International unrest among different countries is posing threat to World peace. In such circumstances, theatre may play integral part in promoting peace thus signifying the Theme of World Theatre Day 2023.
Let us hope that Theatre will continue entertaining the masses while imparting them significant lessons about life, brotherhood and responsibilities towards not only mankind but nature also. Let me conclude with beautiful quote of Issac Goldberg, well know American journalist, author and critic about theatre who has said,
“There is that smaller world which is the Stage
And that larger stage which is the World.”