Theatre and Culture of Peace

Theatre and Culture of Peace
Theatre and Culture of Peace

Rajeshwar Singh ‘Raju’
27th March, this day is a special day for theatre activists and theatre lovers as it is celebrated as World Theatre Day to promote theatre in all its forms. It was initiated by the International Theatre Institute (ITI), World’s largest performing arts organization founded in 1948 by Theatre and Dance experts & UNESCO and World Theatre Day was celebrated for the first time on 27th of March 1962 , the date of opening of the ‘Theatre of Nations ‘ season in Paris, France. Thereafter, this day is being celebrated by ITI Centers and the International Theatre Community all over the world. It is quite interesting that ITI doesn’t designate any specific theme and every year the theme for World Theatre Day remains same i.e. “Theatre and a Culture of Peace” which is being followed for the last 62 years.
If we cast a look at our great nation Bharat, then according to Natyashastra, the earliest literature on music and drama written around 500 BC by Bharat Muni, an exhaustive treatise on the art of performance, Drama was a gift from Gods to Humans. Perhaps it was the reason that early Indian Drama had much religious mythology interwoven with it. It is believed that the earliest form of theatre was Sanskrit theatre which emerged between 15th century BC and Ist century but flourished between 1st century and 10th century. Vedic Texts such as Rigveda provides evidences of plays enacted during ‘YAJNA’ ceremonies. However Modern Theatre developed during Colonial rule under British Empire from 19th century until 20th century.
It will not be unfair to add here that Theatre has played a significant role directly or indirectly in shaping us as human beings. It makes us sensible towards others. That’s why , an eminent Irish Poet & Playwright Oscar Wilde had once said,” 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 is to be a human being.”
It is proclaimed that a new concept of Theatre in education is emerging these days, but the fact remains that theatre has always imparted education since inception. It is a universal truth that theatre activists, while portraying different characters on stage get more realistic towards life. The reason is quite obvious as theatre is supposed to involve the sufferings of masses and portray same through a drama for a powerful impact on the society and for discovering a gateway for getting rid of same. The process involved in making a production is so intense that every theatre activist involved whether in the capacity of on-stage or back stage becomes an integral part of the team. Experiencing truth from a close up not only gives you confidence to stand against all odds but also boosts your morale to emerge victorious even from the odd situations. Theatre helps in developing your personality with positive approach which matters most at different stages of life.
It is pertinent to add here that we do celebrate almost every day for this reason or that. A question arises, whether such celebrations are merely for posting the updates on social media or we are sincere enough to realize the impression of same. We have to understand the significance of celebrating such the special days.
It is a matter of concern that although there are Government and Non-Government organizations claiming as promoters of theatre, but truth is bitter one. You cannot quench your thirst for theatre merely with an Annual Drama Festival. When you aspire for a movement, then it is bound to be a continuous process. There are quite a good number of theatre groups in our UT, but except a theatre group Natrang, others don’t have means to sustain. Amazingly a number of groups mushroom during Annual Drama Festivals of Jammu & Kashmir Academy of Art, Culture and Languages and vanish from the scene thereafter. Lack of financial support is the main reason because a production needs money and here in Temple City there is no concept of professional theatre. Halls are empty when entry is free and who will expect that tickets will get sold to generate revenue. In this part of the country, theatre may survive with the intervention of Government only.
Further, it’s heartening to know that whenever an opportunity comes, theatre groups are always looking for scripts in Hindi rather than Dogri. They prefer to stage plays with minimum of cast and dedication level is also low in many cases. A concern is that the members of many theatre groups either don’t come to watch plays or prefer to sit outside the auditorium just to ensure that the group performing inside should not get an opportunity to claim maximum spectators that they don’t wish to add with their presence. They act like think tank and discuss issues related to theatre in detail when performance is going on inside. It is quite a silly approach. I think every theatre production is a celebration and should be celebrated by one and all. Theatre groups should help each other to start a theatre movement in real terms.
It is expected in a society that theatre productions should act as mirror thus highlighting the problems being faced and having access to the class that decides the future strategies whether its politicians, bureaucrats or social workers. It’s not the glamour only that should be an inspiring factor but an urge to work for a cause should be a deciding factor to pursue a career in theatre that demands sacrifice without a guarantee whether you will excel in it or not. Financial angle should be forbidden as starvation has remained a part and parcel of theatre activists in the initial stage. Yes, if success starts coming your way, then name and fame brings fortunes also and life takes a U-Turn towards prosperity. Many entrants in the field come with such dreams but who have the will power to stay for a long inning and others skip in the midway thus surrendering to circumstances.
Theatre Groups need to realize, what is the basic mantra to taste success and get recognized at significant platforms? An intelligent theatre director always looks for a script that has connection to masses and theatre performance should touch their innermost. Stella Adler, an American actress says, “Theatre is a spiritual and social X-ray of its time.” She is very much right with her observations because it is the most potent form of expression and its impact lasts long. Every theatre production leaves an imprint on the mind.
On this special Day, let us make a resolution that we will work on the productions that will have our cultural values as the core element. As Theatre plays an important role in preserving and promoting our language, traditions and culture heritage, let us realize it and step on the path of success while fulfilling our responsibilities as theatre activists.
“All the World’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and their entrances and one man in his time plays many parts.”,
William Shakespeare said.
I wish to conclude with the words that before we exit from the scene, let us play our part with all conviction for building up a society having concern about existence of not only human beings but all living beings on the planet earth.
With these aspirations, Happy World Theatre Day to all.