Celebrating classics: NSD’s annual theatre festival
Like every summer since 1976, this year again, the National School of Drama (NSD) is back with the 42nd edition of its annual festival. The Summer Theatre Festival, that started on May 25, opened with the play Bayen. Directed by Usha Ganguly and written by Mahasweta Devi, the play portrays the ways in which the society constructs the life of a woman.
Some other plays, including classics like Taj Mahal Ka Tender, Vidyottama, and Aadha Chand have already been performed in the festival, however, there is a chance to catch the three remaining plays: Ghazab Teri Adaa, Ghasiram Kotwal, and Laagi Lagan. The plays have been put together by NSD’s Repertory Company.
“This is our annual event. Just before the Repertory goes on summer vacation, all the running productions and those in public demand are showcased in the festival,” says Suresh Sharma, chief of NSD Repertory Company.
The Repertory Company traces its humble beginnings to 1964 when it was set up with just four actors. The objective was to form a professional theatre and promote experimental work. Twelve years later, the company was turned into a full-fledged unit with eight new artists.
The Company provides a platform to students to jump-start their theatrical career. These performances became a regular feature of NSD in summers, a tradition still followed.
Over the years, the Repertory has brought to the audience of Delhi a variety of theatrical performances, including musicals, contemporary Indian dramas, and adaptations of foreign plays.
“Artists change every year but the plays remain the same,” says Sharma. “Ghasiram Kotwal, for example, is a classic by playwright Vijay Tendulkar. The script is so powerful that it remains contemporary. Taj Mahal Ka Tender holds true even today and is a comment on today’s political situation and babudom. A situation that has prevailed since our Independence.”
Tendulkar’s play, directed by Rajinder Nath, is a political satire about power politics and a common man’s search for his identity. Ghasiram Kotwal’s first Hindi production was staged by the theatre group Abhiyan in October 1973.
The two other plays are Hindi adaptations of foreign language plays. The NSD director Waman Kendre says he came across an anti-war comedy called Lysistrata by Greek playwright Aristophanes when he was an NSD student and was intrigued by its plot. Later, he scripted a version for the Indian audience, calling it Ghazab Teri Adaa. Originally performed in Athens in 411 BC, it is a comic account of how Greek women stop the Peloponnesian War by denying their husbands any sex.
Laagi Lagan is based on George Bernard Shaw’s famous 1913 play Pygmalion, named after a Greek mythological figure who falls in love with one of his sculptures, which then comes to life. The play was also the story of the popular 1964 film, My Fair Lady, starring Audrey Hepburn.
What: Summer Theatre Festival 2017
Where: Kamani Auditorium, 1, Copernicus Marg
When: 7 pm, June 9 to 18; Tickets priced at ₹300, ₹200, ₹100 and ₹50
Nearest Metro station: Mandi House