Natya Chetana: 13th Lok Natya Mela brings up theatre artists, people together in Orissa
Friday, February 26, 2010
Natya Chetana: 13th Lok Natya Mela brings up theatre artists, people together in Orissa
Report by Orissadiary correspondent; Bhubaneswar: Theatre is an art of synchronization between social responsibility and artistic creativity. Natya Chetana aspires to spread social awareness through theatre art forms by bringing people together from different strata under one roof in the village environment, by organizing An Annual Peoples Theatre Festival since last 12 years. The organization recently hosted a five-day theatre festival (13th Lok Natya Mela) in Natya Gram, The Theatre Village of Natya Chetana from 17th February to 21st February 2010. 

The theme for this year’s festivity was “Environment”. According to Subodh Pattanaik, Director- “Natya Chetana has been doing theatre to raise questions and awareness on the issues around environment since its inception”, referring to the plays of 1987s. He continues – “Natya Chetana had begun to do plays with a propagandistic approach which got changed to artistic expressions in 1991. However looking at the discussion about ‘global warming’ and ‘change of weather’ now-a-days, following the failure Summit at Copenhagen, Natya Chetana wishes to strikes the mind of people again when the iron is hot.”

The entire ambience is decorated with the use of natural products. Without depending on professionals the venue was decorated with masks, flags, banner and hooding by playing with green color to cope up with the theme. The design of Sun as a central character at the reception area before the entrance of the mane theatre stage raises a thought about the theme. There were spaces for Reception, Exhibition, Museum, Seminar/Meeting Hall, Tent camp for lodging, Common Dinning Hall, Theatre market and the Indian style of Theatre stage facing one-side placed audiences.

“We have tried to impress the theme by using ‘green’ colour and its shadings within the decorative and publicity materials and through the unique uniform of the Organising team and Outside delegates : as said by Subodh.

On 17th Feb 2010, there was a Theatre March moved in the Khurda Town to declare that the Festival is On. The drumming, dancing and distribution of leaflets of sharing the total programme has been remembered by all viewers on the road.

The day begins with the morning call of ‘Natadebata’ followed by a workshop on theatre exercises conducted by the Experts of ARTEN (Asia Region Theatre Education Network). In this series of Morning Theatre Workshop - Sujata Priyambada of Natya Chetana, Biswajit Biswas of Rangapeeth, V Ashok Kumar of Banglaore did share interesting and innovative method of exercises useful for theatre artists. 

Performances were being conducted during the first four days of the festival. The plays were : Dhuan by Natya Chetana ; Gandha Mardana by Maa Ramchandi Nabaranga Ghuduki, Jharapada (Odisha) ; Biplab by Uttarayani Club, Jatni (Odisha); Pala by Satya Narayana pala group, Puri ; Dwitiya Andhajuga by Rangapeeth, Shantipur (West Bengal) ; Kana Dadur Bagan by Nahalee, Kolkata ; Ubha Kuber Pota Sapan by Swosti Jhankar, Rourkela (Odisha). When there were 3 modern plays by eminent theatre groups like – Natya Chetana, Uttarayani Club (Jatni) and Swosti Jhankar (Rourkela) performed their theatre productions, 2 folk theatre groups also were being requested to undertake theme environment relating the Indian mythological episodes. Then there were 2 plays from West Bengal in Bengoli language. This was interesting combination of different styles of attempts in making pro-people, non-profit-making creative theatrical attempts, which were the main criteria to invite such groups. 

Subodh says – “ For us the process of the theatre productions are more valuable than the outcome or the product. Biplab Satpathy (Jatni) and Rajiv Pani (Rourkela) like young and known theatre directors of Orissa got motivated to come out of the regular proscenium practices to do a play in Indian style of stage, environment and within a limitation of pro-people format for giving solidarity to the cause of Environment, is a larger success than their production. In the same way the traditional players of Pala and Ghuduki Nata improvised fresh scripts on Environment after a research in mythology is a process”.

Theatre experts critically analyze the play during a seminar conducted the next day of the performances where the performing group faced criticism, got suggestions for improvement and acknowledged the appreciation towards them.
The presence of Patrick Navatte, theatre director from France gave an international touch to this festival. He also facilitated a special theatre workshop of 3 hours on 21st Feb 2010 to share some techniques of actor’s training.

During this festival, published books like – “Sala Budhara Natya Darshana” , Drama– “Dhuan” and a compilation of 2 plays – “Rebo and Babu” based on Fakir Mohan’s story were released for the public.

Visitors could purchase theatre related books and products at Nata Hata (theatre market) in the afternoon. To share the audience about the history of Natya Chetana, there was a museum called Natya Gyan opened for public. 

The programme gives an opportunity to the participants to understand each other closely through candid conversations. Eminent theatre personalities like Sri Sarat Pujari, Sri Asim Basu, Sri Anant Mohapatra, Sri Gopal Patnaik, Sri Sarat Mohanty, Sri Rai Charan Das, Dr. Ramesh Prasad Panigrahi, Sri Dhirendra Mallik, Dr. Sanghamitra Mishra, Mrs. Jayanti Ratha, Dr. Archana Nayak, Sri Mohapatra Nilamani Sahu, Sri Lala Biren Prasad Ray, Sri Abhinna Routray and a senior Administrator Sri Aurobinda Behera-IAS graced the occasion in different days as Guests of Honour.

Subodh Pattanaik, the Director of Natya Chetana as well as the Festival said that – “The festival is not only for theatre performances but the bigger purpose is to organize a social congregation where all can work and live together. The spirit of ‘People’s Unity’ which developed our Community (Come+Unity) is going out very fast from our world. Theatre is a symbol of unity, that is why reflection of society, which Natya Chetana wishes to project and demonstrate through this Lok Natya Mela.”

A peaceful place away from the rush, a friendly welcoming atmosphere to be in a spiritual environment provides a visitor to the festival from a child to an old-one certainly feel pleasure being present in any part of the event, no doubt about it.

The Camp fire was a great time to end the Festival when celebrating the International Language Day on 21st Feb 2010 evening. It was also added with playing with colour powder – Fagu which is being used for Holi ritualistic occasion. Dr. Mamata was coordinating the songs of different languages and all were dancing on those around the central fire-place. There were Odia, Sambalpuri, Kui, Bengoli, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada, French songs recited by participants.
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