Uplift local Theatre

Rajeshwar Singh ‘Raju’
J & K Academy of Art, Culture and Languages Jammu Unit needs all applause to continue with the practice of organizing an ambitious project like Annual Drama Festival at District level thus extending an opportunity to all aspiring talent to showcase their potential. But one thing that disturbs all theatre lovers from within is— is it fulfilling the motive behind it?
I don’t think that there is any other response except No.. Absolutely No. But JKAACL may not be held responsible for the same as it is providing platform to theatre activists. Now what the Theatre Groups are engaged into is a serious concern. I think, all will agree that Cultural Academies were set up to boost regional talent as well as regional culture but where we stand at that Guideline? Let us not get puzzled by getting indulged into different forms of art and restrict ourselves to only one field i.e. Theatre, then, undoubtedly, we have let down the basic motive behind establishing the Cultural Academies.
If we talk of theatre activities in Jammu at present times, then of course there are hectic activities. But what is the substance being served? The theatre goers are forced to witness repeated productions.. Repeated plays for such a long time now. Ironically, the poor theatre lovers are in fact accused of not coming to witness theatre productions. The halls remain empty. When every time the theatre lovers are the same plays with almost same treatment for so many years now, then why should they come? The jam packed halls in Theatre Olympiad or other National Theatre Festivals gives a clear indication that if you have the content, there is no dearth of admirers also.
When Theatre Groups from all over the country perform here, they display their culture. But, what the local theatre groups do? They produce their culture in front of local art lovers and feel proud in staging the nationally acclaimed plays and performing the foreign writers’ plays thus blaming that there is dearth of good scripts in regional language.
Sorry, this is not the land of Shakespeare. We have no enmity with him and full marks to him for his contribution to English literature and the theatre Groups performing his plays. But for God’s sake, you are not meant to propagate his theatre. Theatre Groups in Jammu have certain responsibilities towards their own language and and folk traditions too. If you don’t fulfil that responsibility of yours, then you have no right to proclaim as the torch bearers of a noble cause for which such festivals are being organized and hefty amount is being spent for a mission but not fulfilled.
Foreign writers, nationally acclaimed writers should not be preferred at the sake of local playwrights and regional cultural traditions. They are getting wider platforms in their own country and elsewhere but your mother tongue and your own traditions are dependent on you and if you are in the field then it’s your moral obligation too. Now-a-days theatre Groups are handsomely paid also. Then justify your role in art arena and do some constructive works for own language and traditions. Get rid of a psycho phobia that our own script area is weak. It’s merely an attempt for escapism. Otherwise, honestly speaking, what justice is done with the immortal scripts is not a secret at all. The Theatre Groups having performed at National or even at International Theatre scene have always opted for Dogri plays only thus exploring an opportunity to present own culture in own language and got recognized for captivating performances. If you want to excel in this field, then undoubtedly you will have to perform own culture in own language. Short cuts never survive for long. If it’s so, then you are not a creative one. You copy and paste without adding anything from yourself. In this hi-tech age you can’t escape from getting exposed. Gone are the days when some of so called Theatre Directors would visit Mandi House, see live performances or collected the books /photographs and copy the Sets, compositions, costumes and other related tools to prove their worth. But where do you survive in your own eyes?
Let me be vocal about the innermost feeling of the theatre lovers add a bit from me as well. Majority of theatre lovers aspire that there should be strict guidelines for selection of scripts. If the Theatre Groups are not taking a lead in this direction, then JKAACL should come ahead with a well planned strategy to boost regional culture and language through theatre, a potent form of expression. After all, Academy’s moral obligation is to give exposure to regional language and culture thus justifying their formation and hefty budget being allocated in the name of culture. It will add to the enthusiasm of writers as well as others associated directly or indirectly with theatre. For same, it should be mandatory that theatre groups should work on fresh scripts, which should constitute more than 75 percent scripts in Dogri Language. Now lack of scripts is not an excuse at all. If one is sincere and honest towards field then there are so many ways and if one is not willing for the same then there are so many excuses too. The Theatre Groups should get rid of the same and play a creative role with a sense of responsibility and JKAACL should also come ahead with a concrete plan to fulfil the mission behind the thought of establishing cultural Academies at local level too. With all respect to foreign as well as national playwrights, a vital point is to be made through this column that the local playwrights, own mother tongue and regional cultural/folk traditions need exposure and it’s their fundamental right too. If you are not willing for the same, sorry, you don’t deserve the platform extended by regional cultural academies.
Realize why Annual Drama Festivals are being organized and feel the soul behind same.