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Feast Of Plays

Wednesday, March 21, 2018
By Deepa Gahlot

A few days from now, the Theatre Olympics will arrive in Mumbai, on the last leg of the 51-day (February 17 - April 8) journey that involved 17 cities, 450 plays, 25,000 artists from 31 countries, plus ancillary activities like folk performances, youth forums, discussions and meet-the-director sessions. The theme of this Festival is 'Flag Of Friendship'.

It is a humungous enterprise undertaken by the National School Of Drama, under the directorship of Waman Kendre, and supported by the Ministry of Culture, Government of India. The Theatre Olympics was established in 1993 in Delphi, Greece, on the initiative of the famous Greek theatre director, Theodoros Terzopoulos. According to information provided, “Theatre Olympics (TO) is an international theatre festival, which presents some of the achievements of the greatest theatre practitioners from around the world. It is a platform for theatrical exchange, a gathering place for students and masters, where a dialogue despite ideological, culture and language differences is encouraged.” So far the Festival has been held in Greece, Japan, Russia, Turkey South Korea, China and Poland.

Theatre lovers in Mumbai will get to see 28 performances (March 24-April 8) by local groups as well as those from other place in India and abroad. There is an international seminar organised too, on  ‘Who Shrunk My Theatre?’

According to Kendre, the TO shows have run to full houses wherever they have been performed; the schedule has been carefully prepared to enable audiences to watch as much variety as possible — plays in languages other than the ones spoken in that city/state, and a fair sprinkling of celebrities too (Soumitra Chatterjee, Shabana Azmi, Seema Biswas, Saurabh Shukla, Ila Arun, Kulbhushan Kharbanda, Himani Shivpuri, Manoj Joshi).

The shows (at Ravindra Natya Mandir and Nehru Centre) are free, and the hope is that the TO will not just boost theatre in India but also create a network with other countries, which will hopefully last far beyond the period and scope of this Festival. In Mumbai, audiences can expect to watch plays from Japan, The Czech Republic, Australia, Poland, US, Belgium and China, besides productions from Indian towns and cities like Delhi, Bhopal, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Jodhpur, Dhampur, Ujjain, Gorakhpur, Dergaon, Gautam Buddha Nagar.

The long term impact of an event of this scale can only be gauged later, for now it is a treat for Mumbai’s theatre audiences.

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