As the 11th National Theatre festival started here on Monday, event and Punjabi theatre director Kewal Dhaliwal, a graduate of the National School of Drama, New Delhi, reflected on its birth a decade ago.
Manch Rangmanch and Virsa Vihar are organising this festival in collaboration with North Zone Cultural Centre (NZCC), Patiala, and the central government department of culture. The festival is a tribute to first Punjabi stage actress Uma Gurbaksh Singh.
Dhaliwal said he had a dream, "to bring all the acclaimed theatres groups of the country to Amritsar", the "best audience" he has come across. "I am into theatre for the past 36 years and was hurt to see Punjab theatre lagging. I resolved to prove that Punjab had a rich theatre culture that has given to the film industry artistes such as Kapil Sharma, Bharti Singh, and Rajiv Thakur," said Daliwal.
"In Amritsar, the auditoriums are packed in every performance during the festival and we have to request many fans to leave because of seats are limited," said the theatre director. "Amritsar has eight auditoriums, which proves the city's enthusiasm. The audience here is sick of the Saas-Bahu television serials and are being attracted to live theatre," he added.
Deputy commissioner Ravi Bhagat, who is invited to the festival, sees it as the people's way to connect to their roots. "They get to study the cultures of the many states though their theatre," he said. The festival started with the the Manch-Rangmanch group play "Pulsirat" directed by Dhaliwal.