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Famous Assamese mobile theatre takes centre stage

New Delhi, April 21 (IANS) The Kohinoor Theatre, the mobile drama company from Assam renowned for taking mega-stage adaptations of blockbusters like 'Titanic' to remote villages, has stepped out of the state for the first time to perform in the capital next week.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010 | 7:55:54 PM IST (+05:30 GMT)
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New Delhi, April 21 (IANS) The Kohinoor Theatre, the mobile drama company from Assam renowned for taking mega-stage adaptations of blockbusters like 'Titanic' to remote villages, has stepped out of the state for the first time to perform in the capital next week.

The troupe will stage three of its signature productions - 'Assemat Jar Heral Seema (Lost in Infinity)', 'O'n Moi Munnai Koisu (Yes, I am Munna Speaking)' and 'Sheetare Semekarati (On a Cold Winter's Night)' - in a three-day theatre festival at the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts (IGNCA) April 25-27.

It marks the first official journey of the 50-year-old Assamese mobile theatre out of the state.

The festival will be presented by the National School of Drama and IGNCA.

Announcing the festival at a packed media briefing at IGNCA Wednesday, Kohinoor Theatre owner Ratan Lahkar, senior functionaries of the NSD and IGNCA member secretary Jatindra Jain said the Kohinoor Theatre Festival was part of the 'centre's objective to promote folk, regional and ethnic art forms of India and document them for posterity.'

'Personally, the prospect of a regional mobile theatre troupe staging opulent plays in the traditional travelling drama company style with its own infrastructure ferried all the way from Assam in trucks looks very exciting,' Jain said.

'A few months ago, we had brought the Surabhi Folk Theatre from Andhra Pradesh to stage a form of indigenous Parsi and Marathi theatre. The troupe of 100 members was like a family. We documented and archived 120 years of the Surabhi Theatre, set up in 1889. We are planning to do the same for Kohinoor Theatre.'

The Kohinoor Theatre was formed in the small Assamese town of Pathsala in 1976 by Ratan Lahkar and Krisna Roy, 14 years after Achyut Lahkar conceived the mobile theatre in Assam.

It paved the way for a new era on Assamese stage, bringing local flavours and ethnic styles to mainstream proscenium theatre.

The initial Kohinoor plays were based on folkore and mythology - influenced by Bengali drama.

But gradually, the travelling drama company broke out of the mould by adapting classical English plays, popular Assamese literature and Hollywood movies. It has also staged plays on drug addiction and corruption over the last few years.

'We took local dramatic versions of the 'Titanic' and 'Jurassic Park' to remote villages across the state even before the movies arrived on Assamese screen from Hollywood. Such was the popularity of our productions that when viewers in Pathsala watched 'Titanic' in English on screen, they remarked that the movie had been lifted from the Kohinoor play,' Lahkar told IANS.

The troupe is known for its adaptations of 'Cleopatra', 'Mrichchakatika (Assamese adaptation of Matir Garhi)', 'Iliad-Odyssey', 'Ben Hur', 'Mahabharata', 'Ramayana', 'Hamlet', 'Othello', 'Mr Jekyll and Mr Hyde' and 'Titanic'.

The Kohinoor Theatre has been instrumental in making travelling Assamsese theatre a profitable venture in the state.

'Earlier the affluent sections of te society looked down upon the Bhramyaman (travelling) theatre, but villagers kept it alive. Tickets now sell for Rs.50 - Rs.700 and each performance accommodates nearly 2,100 visitors in four categories. Kohinoor was also the first repetory company to have availed of a loan from the Central Bank of India in 1979,' Lahkar said.

It brought a semblance of corporatisation to the company and strict discipline.

The troupe travels with three to six trucks of equipment, pitches its own tents, erects its own proscenium (stage) usually measuring 60 ft by 20 feet and arranges manual illumination. The company remains in a location for three days and stages new productions every year - averaging 200 shows.

Copyright : Indo-Asian News Service
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