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A meaningful act

CDL believes in theatre for social change



PROVOKING A scene from Mahatma Vs. Gandhi, one of the plays that CDL brought to Bangalore

Do we need playwright Arthur Miller and his Death of a Salesman to give us a strong message? Do we need someone to adapt the play and present it in the form of Salesman Ramlal to pull us out of the rat race?

"One play cannot change society, but it can definitely set people thinking," says Shangon Das Gupta, Executive Director of Communication for Development and Learning (CDL). The non-governmental organisation has been bringing quality theatre productions to Bangalore in its Theatre That Matters series.

Good theatre makes one contemplate, it provokes us to question our perceptions, to see other people's point of view, to get inspired maybe, and to see if we can't make the world, or at least our own small world, a little better. CDL believes that the medium of theatre has a unique space in communication processes. "There is plenty of choice when it comes to good plays, but the challenge is to get the good ones at rates we can afford. Commercialisation of theatre has put some real constraints on producers as well as on NGOs like us, and there is a constant need to raise funds for events," reveals Shangon.

For the past five years CDL has been identifying plays with socially relevant themes, and has invited professional theatre groups to perform in Bangalore. Theatre that Matters showcases the power of theatre as a medium of communication. Through this initiative, CDL facilitates, supports and provides solidarity to theatre groups who share a mutual spirit of promoting meaningful theatre.

This December, CDL will be presenting the play Soorya Ki Antim Kiran Se Soorya Ki Pehli Kiran Tak, based on Surendra Verma's 30-year old Hindi classic about the Mauryan King Okkak (Rajendra Gupta) and his wife Queen Sheelvati (Neena Gupta). The king is impotent and the laws of the land dictate that only a legitimate son with royal blood can succeed the king. The answer lies in Niyog — a controversial and ancient Indian tradition born out of a state law which requires that the king, if impotent, order his queen to spend a night with a man of her choice in order to beget an heir.

The play set in the 6th century explores intimate relationships, raises questions and mirrors situations that are as ancient as they are contemporary. The play is a part of the syllabus of the National School of Drama and has been staged at several prestigious forums.

Plays performed under CDL's Theatre That Matters series have included Soorya Ki... directed by Neena Gupta, also has her in the lead role. The play promises to shake up society just a bit. Watch out for more details on the play to be performed on December 11 and 12. For more information please call 25503481 or 25524192 for more details.

M.K.

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