Nov 10, 2010 (CalcuttaTube): Theatre maestro Shree Rudra Prasad Sengupta talks about his theatre organization Nandikar and his upcoming venture of establishing an institute for experimentation in theatre, interactive sessions and more for the young.
Nandikar was formed on June 29, 1960 by Ajitesh Bandopadhyay along with a group of middle class educated persons. In 1961 Nandikar staged the play ‘Natyakarer Sandhane Chhati Charitra’ (Pirandello). When the group staged ‘Manjari Amer Manjari’ (Chekov) in 1964, Satyajit Ray was a guest. Ray paid his compliments by designing Nandikar’s logo that the 50 year old organization still ‘carries as its badge of honor.’ ‘Nandikar’ is one who initiates the auspicious. When Bibhas Chakrabarty left Nandikar in 1966 with 17 friends the group became smaller, but the journey went on; ‘Sher Afghan’ (Pirandello) and ‘Tin Poishar Pala’ (Brecht) were staged.
‘Nandikar’, globally one of the very best theatre groups, has mesmerized audience and critics with great plays like ‘Khorir Gondi’ (Brecht), ‘Mananiya Bicharak Mandali’ (Rashoman), ‘Neela’ (Bergman), ‘Shesh Saksatkaar’ (Dozortsev), ‘Sankhapurer Sukanya’ (Brecht), ‘Meghnad Badh Kabya’ (Madhusudan), ‘Feriwalaar Mrityu’ and ‘Gotraheen’ (Miller), ‘Sojan Badiyar Ghaat’ (Jashimuddin), ‘Ei Sahar Ei Samay’(a Collage), ‘Bappaditya’ (Abanindranath), ‘Chokh Gyalo’ (Tarashankar), ‘Ajnatobaas’ (Sukanta Bandopadhyay), ‘Madhabi’ (Bhisham Sahani).
“Nandikar has showcased Sombhu Mitra as guest artiste in Bisakhadatta’s Mudrarakhsasa and Brecht’s Galileo, collaborated with Harvard University to mount Jaha Chai ….. a la Shakespeare.”
Nandikar has visited, performed, interacted in UK, USA, Sweden, China, Canada, former USSR, Norway, Poland, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Oman, Kuwait. Apart from working with school children, children dwelling in slums, pavements, and visually challenged children, Nandikar has been organizing National Theatre Festivals since 1984.
Rudra Prasad Sengupta, the actor-director, and organizer of Nandikar, pledges to everyone to stand with him to give him moral and financial support in fulfilling his dream of establishing the institute that could be a gift to the children of the nation.
Let us see what he has spoken to our CalcuttaTube journalist Shrabanti Basu regarding this.
NANDIKAR AND ITS VERSATILITY OF WORKS:
RUDRA PRASAD SENGUPTA: Nandikar is a 50 year old theatre organization that does not only stay put in its performative role doing productions and offering performances of those productions.
Nandikar tries to use theatre much beyond the mold of a performance. It works with school children, children who are handicapped such as deaf and mute, spastic, visually handicapped, children dwelling in slums and pavements.
Every year we try to bring the potential of theatre in the service of educators in St. Xaviers College, ABTA College for education, with some teachers who are interested in theatre and its efficacy as a medium of education and perception of education in human values.
We hold festivals for young and with young. This apart, we have already established in a rented of about 1100 sqft children’s assemble where children of various age group 5+ to 9, 9+ to 13, 13+ to 18.
WHAT THEATRE CAN TEACH OUR CHILDREN:
RUDRA PRASAD SENGUPTA: Theatre is something which can make you a better communicator, which can acquaint you with all attributes necessary for the art of living because theatre and life work with the same attributes and components. Theatre brings to children a sense of centrality- that each of them has a center, they are not peripheral at school, in their family blessings, society. Each of them has their own centers. Theatre can tell them that existence is a multifocal, multicentere phenomenon and they are never marginal, but they are not always at the centre of centrality either.
Moreover theatre can teach you togetherness and spirit of conviviality. Theatre can discover the potential in you of becoming much more human, much more creative and powerful than what you are through the school system, through the limitation of family life and in the absence of community; ‘paaRa’ is lost to a child and young person. Theatre can offer all these things and without being pontifical or pedagogical, we are trying to use theatre for these.
Each year we try to work with young persons from different states and tell them how important life can be and that you have physically, mentally such strengths and potentials again theatre can be an eye opener, theatre can innervate you, theatre can resuscitate things which are getting dead and buried in a human life.
Theatre can tell a young man that you are just not somebody, you are essentially potential everybody. So that is another area of work which we do. And directly we try to train people each year who want to be professionals in performative art.
And this apart we perform. Our major area of using theatre beyond performances and stage productions is to bring theatre in the service of children and young persons. That is a major area apart from what we do in children’s theatre festival, festival for young persons and our annual National Theatre Festival.
EXPERIMENTATION, SCOPES IN THEATRE:
RUDRA PRASAD SENGUPTA: We are trying to reach out to people, but perhaps in trying to reach out we are losing some vital time and energy. Perhaps we have now gained experience and knowledge and philosophy of communication through theatre, with theatre. It is now time to be centered somewhere where people will come, where trainers will be trained, where children will not only come for interaction with theatre, but will be ambassadors of theatre.
We have very little scope of experimentation in the kind of theatre that we try to practice. The first pre-requisite of experimentation, the initial and ultimate right to experimentation is born out of right to failure. Unless you are ready to fail, you cannot experiment. If you are bound to play safe, you are bound to produce dead theatre.
A new journey through theatre into our own time, our own space needs experimentation and experimentation presupposes failure. So there we need a center, economically more viable where one can afford experimentation at lesser expenses.
While retaining all our performative activities all over India and outside India, keeping intact our regular programs, holding festivals, etc we now like to start a center which will have two fold activities. There will be small performance space for experimentation in theatre language and performance. We shall have training spaces for five major components of communication such as everything related to words, images (space), movement (walking, dancing, acrobatics, etc), sound (music, etc), advancement in technology. In these five areas we shall have interactive sessions, trainings, etc.
RECIPIENTS OF THIS EXPERIMENTATION:
RUDRA PRASAD SENGUPTA: The young and the children will be initiated in the exploratory journey into these five areas.
But along with these we would like to have a book shop, a gymnasium, guest rooms for interactive opportunities. People coming from abroad and all over India who cannot afford star hotels, can be accommodated here at economically viable rates. So we need guest facilities, gymnasiums, eateries, book shops, music and video shops – all these under one umbrella and this will have a market. This eatery will be open to public who want to spend money, and for performers and trainees. Those who will come to this sector will be served at a cheap rate. Gym will be free for performers, children and young persons; but other people will have to pay.
Nandikar has been given a space of nearly 12 ‘kata’ land by the govt. of West Bengal, the Chief Minister has taken initiative. We can have G+5 and in future G+7 accommodations, where we can have in all the floors about 30 -33 thousand sqft area including the performance space. This is in a prime location in Salt Lake just behind the City Center.
Salt Lake has a large middle class population who would love to have a cultural performance center with book shops, gym, eateries, etc surrounding it where they will be able to send their own children to see and practice and all that. Because they are captive people, I can very much visualize this will blossom into a cultural center of huge potential and importance for Eastern India. This will be a place where the young and the elderly will meet and where performing artists will meet each other. As opposed to the synthetic culture and open sky culture, this will be a culture of the roots, culture with children, young, and our future.
FUNDING AND SUPPORT:
RUDRA PRASAD SENGUPTA: The problem is that we don’t have much money. With our friends and our own kitty we can get about 50 lakhs rupees and we need another 1 crore rupees to start with. Our strength lies in togetherness. Any amount is welcome and they will be all given credit. This could be a gift of the nation to the nation.
When everything was bombarded in Poland, the artists went out to the streets with days, months, weeks on end, collected donations and with that they built a national theatre and they called it a gift of the nation to the nation. We can be the katalyzer, we don’t have any claim to being the leader of this. We are having a trustee board; we will even control our intransigence and waywardness.
This can be a gift of the elderly to the children. As the Latin-American proverb says, we have not received this world from our ancestors; our future, the young and the children – they have given us on loan this present and it is our task to make it a little more habitable, a little more beautiful, and to pass it on to the children and the young. When they are strong they will take over.
This is easily realizable actually, provided you appreciate the child which you had inside you’ for him and also for your own child, if you make some contribution to this, something will happen in Bengal, something will happen for our future.
CONTACTS AND MORE:
RUDRA PRASAD SENGUPTA: Nandikar is the organization. Our mobile numbers are 98305-03107, 98301-15448 and land line telephone number is 033-2555-4946. You may also reach us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
We are registered under Section 80G where the donors will be exempted from tax on their donated amount. We are also registered under FCRA (Foreign Currency Regulation Act) so anybody can send us any currency.
Let us remember that all God’s children have wings, it is for us to give those wings some strength so that they can fly, fly higher than we have reached and fly higher than we have dreamt of and fly in the presence of Jonathon Livingstone Seagull.
I hope you will permit our young ones levitate beyond the pulls of gravitation, the cultural, social pulls, and they will be as free as bird. They will be the agents of the future towards a better future for our Bengal, our India. Thank you very much, in anticipation.
Photos/Videos: Shrabanti Basu