Tagore reinterpreted at NSD`s Bharat Rang Mahotsav

New Delhi: A panorama of 17 contemporary plays interpreting Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore`s literature will turn the spotlight on the poet`s legacy on his 150th birth anniversary during the 14th Bharat Rang Mahotsav - the annual festival of the National School of Drama Jan 8-22.

The festival will see 97 productions, including 16 foreign plays, at 11 venues in the capital. Poland will be the international focus country with three plays and two exhibitions while fringe groups like eunuchs, dwarfs and non-actors will get an opportunity to stage their productions, NSD chairperson Amal Allana announced Tuesday during a media interface here.

The festival will open Jan 8 with veteran director Ratan Thyam`s new production -- "King of the Dark Chamber" -- an adaptation of Tagore`s "Andhakarer Raja".

It will be followed by plays like "Journey to Dakghar", "Kothaay Paabo Tare (a deconstruction)", two versions of "Stree Patra (Letter from the Wife) -- a narrative by Seema Biswas and "Patni ka Patra (Gita Guha)", "Chandalika" (a Tagore dance drama from Bangladesh), "Hungry Stones (in Manipuri)", "Visarjan" (Sacrifice) and Rakta Karabi (The Red Oleander).

A series of allied events, including transpositions of Tagore songs and poetry in Marathi, collages of Tagore`s paintings and stories about women, a "patua" narrative of his poems and plays, seminars and an exhibition of rare photographs of the poet`s 41 directorial ventures of his own plays, "Where The Mind Is Without Fear", will carry the theme of interpretation of his works to all genres of literary and performing mediums.

"Tagore is no longer confined to Bengal. We have brought him in different mediums and languages like Hindi, Bengali, Manipuri and Rava and in discourse plays where his works are discussed on stage. Tagore has acquired a pan-Indian colour and his plays at the festival are about Indian modernity which address contemporary issues," National School of Drama director Anuradha Kapur said.

According to Allana, Tagore was "running two theatre laboratories at Shantiniketan and Jorasanko for innovation and was doing unpopular theatre at a time when huge commercial theatre was popular around him in Kolkata".

Apart from the Tagore focus, there will be 79 performances -- adaptations, revisitings, improvisations, devised works, traditional and folk-inspired renditions -- reflecting the complex and contemporary languages of the theatre practised in India.

"This year, we have surpassed all expectations because we have a huge basket of 97 productions. It has been a long journey to make an adequate selection of fare that is eclectic and diverse, with classic theatre on one hand and well-acted plays on the other. We had submissions from remote corners of the society in languages like Mizo, Rava, Santhali, Kashmiri and Tulu," Allana said.

She also noted that "new people like the fringe communities and challenged people were claiming theatre space and talking about their issues".

"We have tried to bring the diverse people of the world under one umbrella while balancing the artistic merit of their work with what they have to say," Allana said.

Three contemporary explorations of classic texts -- Ibsen`s "Peer Gynt" in Malayalam, Muktibodh`s "Samjhouta" in Hindi and "E=MC2", an adapation of Badal Sircar`s "Trigsho Shatabdi" -- will bring to stage the movement of "reconnection" across the temporal space in contemporary theatre.

The festival will also host six Indian adapations of Shakespeare`s plays and old favourites like "Adhe Adhure (Mohan Rakesh)". An epic narrative play, "Stories in a Song" by Sunil Shanbag will trace the history of music-making in India.

Two productions from Pakistan, "Insha ka Intezaa (adapted from `Waiting for Godot`), "Mera Rang de Basanti" (based on the story of Bhagat Singh) and "The Little Prince" from Afghanistan evoke the turmoil that has engulfed the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.

Some of participating countries are China, Japan, Turkey, South Africa and Israel.

The National School of Drama will also sign an MoU with the Theatre Academy of Acting in Warsaw during the festival for an intense students` exchange programme.

Tickets for the festival priced at Rs 200, Rs 100 and Rs 50 can be sourced from NSD sales counters and on Bookmyshow.com.