National Street Theatre Day:
In 1989, Safdar Hashmi, a street theatre pioneer in India, was killed by the Gaziabad congress leader, Mukesh Sharma, and his goons. Hashmi’s troupe, JANAM, was performing in Gaziabad before the election and he was brutally beaten in front of his audience which lead to his death. The incident created a ripple that made Safdar Hashmi a symbol of anti-authoritarian movements throughout the country. 12th April, the birthday of Safdar Hashmi, is celebrated all over our nation as National Street Theatre Day, after being declared so by the Safdar Hashmi Memorial Trust (SAHMAT)..
National Street Theatre Day Kolkata, 2015
Last Sunday, Triangular Park in South Kolkata witnessed 15 theatre groups giving a grand and versatile exhibition of their theatrical prowess to celebrate National Street Theatre Day. From thought and emotion provoking socio-political drama to entertaining comedy, it was a platter that served every flavour of theatre for the audience. Groups from Kolkata and its outskirts responded to the call of Urotaar, the organizer of the event, to participate and celebrate National Street Theatre Day.
This 6 hours long event was temporarily interrupted by the sudden Kalboisakhi rains, but that had no effect on the spirits of the participants and observers. Even at 7 pm, Ullash, the event, was entertaining a crowd of over a hundred passersby.
We talked to Sumanta Sarkar, co-founder of Urotaar, to bring you a closer look at the event.
BongRong: Congratulations on the success of “Ullash”. How did you come up with the idea?
Urotaar: Every theatre troupe in this town has their own circle that supports them. The idea was to collaborate and connect with each team to create a bigger circle. A circle that gives us the platform to exchange ideas and thoughts in front of a bigger crowd. That thought actually gave us the plan.
BongRong: What was the most challenging part?
Urotaar: We have the experience of arranging a few theatre festivals. That helped a lot but it was a difficult task to have theatre groups from different theatre spectrums come and perform street theatre. We had to approach nearly 50 groups and at the end of it, we had 15 theatre performances in one day. That was undoubtedly the most challenging part.
BongRong: Is there a future plan for this event?
Urotaar: Well, what we have understood from the experience of Ullash is that we need constant interaction and exchange with each group. Say, Urotaar is working in a style with a thought behind it and another group is working with their own style and thought. If we come together and see each other performing, that will surely influence and develop our craft. It also creates a bigger scope for everyone. So, we would definitely like to work together with the groups that were present and the groups which were not. We don’t know whether it will happen, but we dream of a day when 50 groups of this city will perform in one day for 10-15 hours. So, whether it’s to celebrate a day or for any other reason, we do look forward to organize and participate in such events.
BongRong: Thank you for your time and we look forward to the next one.
Urotaar: Sure. We will let you know.
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