Facebook, Twitter help people gather in theatre forum

Kolkata: People from Europe, Asia and Latin America have joined hands through Facebook and Twitter to launch `Jana Sanskriti`, a forum of people`s theatre, to give voice to the economically oppressed.

Last week 138 of them converged here to attend a theatre festival of the `Jana Sanskriti` where performances staged centred on themes ranging from domestic violence to sexual harassment to communal harmony and environmental perils.

Two participants, Heman and Shela from Germany, told reporters that they had participated in a five-day workshop at Badu village for the `Good vs evil` puppet show at the festival, drawn from Indian mythology.

"Despite not understanding the lyrics, the beat and rhythm of the show are so beatiful that we had no difficulty in matching steps with our rural artiste friends," the two said.

They said that the colourful puppet show, which symbolised the vanquishing of demon `Mahisasura`, had been derived from puppet motiffs from an anti-Nazi rally organised in Frankfurt recently.

They said the large puppets were brought from Germany and their costumes hand-crafted here. "It proves people`s art has no barriers."

Heman and Shela had been initiated into the movement five years ago during a `spect-acting show` of Jana Sanskriti in their country where the spectator turns actor who suggests where the play could end instead of the pre-determined ending.

Celebrated percussionist Tanmoy Bose, a patron of the movement, said he believed there should be positive vibes between the artistes and the audience in performing arts in the people`s domain.

Bose, associated with a Rajasthani folk group performance in the festival, advocated the need to popularise distinct, indigenous cultural elements of different communities while retaining the flavour.

"Persons like me must come forward to broadbase people`s art by associating ourselves as patrons. There could be a buzz if certain figures, more known in their field, turn up at such events," the internationally-known tabla player, who performs with Ravi Shankar and Amjad Ali Khan, said.

To a query, Bose said he would certainly appreciate if Jana Sanskriti organisers regularly visited college fests with their theatre form and art works to reach out to the youth.

Recalling his visit to several European countries in past, the director and founder-member of Jana Sanskriti, Sanjay Ganguly, said, "These visits worked towards creating awareness about our movement, as words spread from private circles.

"Instead of using theatre to deliver messages, we use it to establish a dialogue with society," he said.

For Daniela from Austria and Polish girl Agnieszka Krol, it was a `celebration of life`.

Agnieszka said, "I am participating in a different show with locals in the Jana Sanskriti coordinating team. I rehearsed with my friends for five days at the Badu workshop. I liked the performance by Chhou dancers."

Jana Sanskriti, having 25 teams in West Bengal besides hundreds of members across the globe, was started as an experiment 25 years ago by a group of dedicated people when they came into contact with Augusto Boal of Brazil who pioneered the Theatre of the Oppressed concept.