Monday, July 6, 2009

Theatre Reaches to New Generation

Not only has the Nepali theatre movement gained pace, it has also become matured by catering to the taste of varied audiences.

"It is difficult to draw differences between stage and my life," shared theatre artist Nisha Sharma during our conversation. Not only Nisha, theatre has become a part of life for several other youths. And why not? Theatre is a different world where people find different forms of romance and pleasure. This has already become a part of life for many youths.

The modern Nepali theatre movement has come a long way since the Bal Krishna Sama's Mutu Ko Byatha (Heart's Pain) was staged in 1986 BS. As it reaches the newer generation, the future of Nepali theatre certainly looks optimistic. It seems that the movement has finally got momentum and is heading towards a fixed direction.

Not only has the Nepali theatre movement gained pace, it has also become matured by catering to the taste of varied audiences. The Nepali theatres saw a sharp decline of audiences in the 2050s. Even though, it did not fail. The theatre movement further strengthened with such failures. Now, not only are the audiences growing, the number of theatre artists and directors has also been increasing. The theatre movement in the country is moving forward breaking all the past records.

Nepali theatres have been drawing the attention of the younger generation in an astonishing way. Maybe because of the lack of modern multiplexes, the younger generation has been keenly following Nepali theatres
Rosha Basnet (21), who never misses Nepali drama, terms theatre as her Maitighar (maternal home). "Gurukul is my maiti. It has enchanted me," Basnet, who is pursuing her graduation in journalism, shared. In earlier days, she used to visit Gurukul to meet her friends Sarita, Yubaraj and others, who are theatre artists. But she visits Gurukul on her own, because she says she is greatly attracted towards it.

Bimal Sapkota, a student at Tri Chandra College, is one of the regular visitors at Gurukul. Sapkota says that he finds the taste of theatre more attractive than the movies. "Dramas are livelier than movies. I don't like movies but I am very serious about dramas," he maintained.
Usha Bajracharya, a plus two level student, echoes Sapkota. "I prefer drama over movie because drama has live performances of the artists and the presentation is also lively," she added. Earlier, Usha was the only one among her friends who was interested in drama. Now, Usha has a wide circle of friends, including Samjhana, Deepa and Pratibha, who equally love theatre. They are only the tip of an iceberg of youths who seriously follow Nepali dramas.
Sunil Pokharel, the founder of Gurukul, is a happy man. Commenting on the increasing attraction of youths towards theatres, Pokharel said, "Regularity and lively performance are the major factors behind the increasing interests of youth towards theatres." Pokharel also sees the media support and marketing exercise as other factors behind it. "The theatre market is gradually expanding thanks to marketing exercise and media support," he added. Pokharel also said they had been able to attract plus two level students towards theatres because of their active involvement in showcasing dramas at schools and colleges.

Future of Theatre
Senior theatre artistes Hari Prasad Rimal, Ashesh Malla, Harihar Sharma, Sarubhakta and others spent their entire life for the betterment of Nepali theatre. Even younger generation artists in the likes of Sunil Pokharel, Shakuntala Sharma, Birendra Hamal, Anup Baral and others have already spent decades in Nepali drama. Theatre is the only future for them. Now, the nation can boasts of a good pool of talented and dedicated theatre artists.

The decade of 2050s is often described as the decade of the arrival of educated theatre artists. They are now firmly established in the sector and are not less in talent and caliber than other established theatre artists. Clear vision, strong confidence, patience, novelty and a great desire for learning are their specialties and positive aspect.

The desire to act in dramas is more than the desire for life for some youths. Take an example of Bholaraj Sapkota of Hetauda, who used to act in street plays. His interest has now taken him to theatres of Aaarohan Gurukul. The list of such youths goes long.

Sarita Giri of Kathmandu, Saugat Malla of Nawalparasi, Suresh Chand of Salyan, Aruna Karki of Dhanusha, Rajan Khatiwada of Bara and Kalyanmani Nepal of Morang are some of the fine talents in Nepali theatres. All of them are excited and say that they want to redefine the theatre movement in the country.

Not only in Nepal, they have showcased their acting skills in theatres in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Norway, Denmark, Russia and other countries. This has not only honed their acting skills, but has also increased their confidence.

The new crop of theatre artistes in the likes of Karma, Diya Maskey, Namrata Shrestha and others, are further cementing the Nepali theatre movement. These artistes are the major draw that attracts new generation youths to the theatres. They are also loved in silver screen. The pair of Karma and Namrata, who hogged limelight, from the movie Sano Sansar, is continuing their theatre career.

Karma is the product of Gurukul. "I prefer to work in drama because I like its taste and that satisfaction that I get from it," Karma added. He has showcased his theatre skills in more than 10 dramas, including Nyayapremi.

Education in Theatre
Aarohan Gurukul is doing groundwork to open a college offering the courses on theater and performing arts, according to Sunil Pokharel. A team led by Pokharel is preparing syllabus for the course. "We are preparing to open a college because we have felt the necessity of an institution that produces skilful artists for theatres. Many youths are interested to pursue their career in theatre. We want to facilitate them. This will also help develop Nepali theatres," he added. Pokharel also said they were preparing a four-year graduation course in theatre and performing acts.

Though there are a number of educational institutions offering courses in acting, they have not become effective in their mission. Most of the theatre artists in the country were educated in India and some were produced by Grukukul and Rastriya Nachghar. However, they don't have academic degrees. At present, 10 students are studying in Gurukul and 10 more in Nachghar. Going by the number, it doesn't look encouraging. But theatre artists believe that the number can increase if academic courses are offered.

Gurukul has already opened its branch in Biratnagar. It is organising a month-long theatre festival in October to create awareness about theatres. It is also doing groundwork to open branches in Hetauda and Bardiya.

Heaps of Praises
Nepali theatre artists are getting good response and encouragement from the audience as well. The audience applauded the performance of Bholaraj Sapkota, who played lead roles in Morten Krogh's Emperor's New Cloth and Ugly Duckling, at Rimal Theatre in Gurukul on June 5. Contrary to popular perceptions that only the middle-aged and elders watch drama, a large crowd of teenagers and college-goers were in the front rows when these dramas were staged. Scores of youths were seen in the theatre that day. Some were with their beloved while some where in groups. That was not the only day, when youths flocked the theatres. According to Pokharel, it is a regular sight at Gurukul.

All these scenes speak loud and clear that the charm of theatres is slowly gripping the younger generation Nepali people. The newer generation sure is preferring theatres over silver screen and small screen.

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