The precedent set is very high. International plays, acclaimed theatre groups from across continents, award-winning Indian artistes and power-packed performances year after year since 2004. The Ranga Shankara Annual Theatre Festival has always offered something different to its ardent loyalist. This year again, the 13th edition of the annual fest comes with a promise — to showcase theatre that’s untouched by urbanisation and new-age techniques. “Not the metros,” is the theme of this year’s festival, which essentially means all the plays for this edition have been brought from small towns and villages across India.
“Theatre should be relevant but unfortunately, urban theatre is becoming synthetic (for the lack of a better word). Whereas, theatre from tier-two and tier-three cities is still organic in nature, it doesn’t depend on techniques we use in urban plays,” says Surendranath aka Suri, artistic director, Ranga Shankara. So this year, the plays chosen are high on content, not just techniques. Shivaji Underground in Bhimnagar Mohalla is a satire on how political parties have misused Shivaji’s name to their advantage, the only English play featured, One Third, is the story of Tamil siblings in Sri Lanka who face an advancing army and how relationships transform under adverse situations. Choli Ke Picche Kya Hai, by Budhan Theatre Society is based on Mahasweta Devi’s Stan Dahini (Breast Giver).
Another new experience for the urban audience would be to watch how rural theatre uses minimal props and is yet able to create a magic like experience on stage. “Take director Murugaboopathy’s (from Tamil Nadu) work as an example. He creates visuals out of human bodies and designs sound with body movements, aided by sticks and pots, and adds some colourful light to make the performance look attractive. Even this is a form of theatre, and this is the kind of art form that will be showcased at the festival,” reveals Suri.
Though most of these troupes may sound unfamiliar to Bengaluru’s urban audiences, they are big names in their regions: Manalmagudi Theatre Land from Kovilpatti in Tamil Nadu, Indianostrum Theatre from Puducherry, Natana from Mysore, Badungduppa from Assam, Perafin Society from Kota in Rajasthan, Budhan Theatre Society from Chharanagar in Guajarath and Ninasam from Heggodu in Karnataka. “It’s important to bridge the gap between urban and rural theatre,” concludes Suri.
6-13. At Ranga Shankara, JP Nagar. Tickets (`150) on
Shivaji Underground in Bhimnagar Mohalla (Marathi)
November 6 . 3:30 and 7:30 pm
Maayakkomaalikalin Jalakannadi (Tamil)
November 7. 7.30 pm
One Third (English)
November 8. 7.30 pm
November 9. 7.30 pm
To’ Paidom (Rabha, Assamese)
November 10. 7.30 pm
Katha Sukavi Suryamal Ki (Rajasthani, Hindi, English)
November 11. 7.30 pm
Choli Ke Picche Kya Hai? (Hindi)
November 12. 3.30 and 7.30 pm
Malathi Madhava (Kannada)
November 13. 3.30 and 7.30 pm
— Ayesha Tabassum