Stage monodrama “Novera” is set to see its 10th staging today at the Experimental Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. The play is produced by Dhrupodi, directed by Sajjad Rajib and scripted by Samiun Jahan Dola based on a Hasnat Abdul Hye novel. Dola herself plays the role of Novera Ahmed, depicting the pioneering sculptor's life. She spoke to the Daily Star about her life as an actor and what playing the role means to her.
How and when did you get involved in theatre?
Dola: My first acting performance on stage was in Netrakona, as a child.
After my higher secondary studies, I joined a theatre troupe in Myemensingh. I enrolled myself at Jahangirnagar University to study theatre and dramatics. My family was not at all happy and stopped sending me money. But I was determined. In 2002, as I was performing in a play called “Chhuti” by Rabindranath Tagore, Selim Al Deen saw me and said, “You are quite talented, you should join Dhaka Theatre.” I joined the troupe in 2003 and I'm still with them.
What impact has theatre had on your life?
Dola: I learned the importance of punctuality and discipline. Most importantly I learned honesty and dedication. To be successful in theatre, you have to be honest to yourself, your character and your work.
What are the theatre productions you consider landmarks in your career?
Dola: In “Nimojjon”, I had the opportunity to work with Nasiruddin Yousuff Bachchu first hand, and he trained me with so much affection and care. My entire point of view about theatre changed with that production. Some of my other major works include “Dhaboman”, “Tempest”, “Chitrangada” and “Novera”.
Did you find it a challenge to play the character of someone as influential as Novera Ahmed?
Dola: Before the conception of the play, I was going through some serious issues in my personal life. A friend told me I should script a film on Novera Ahmed's life, and play the role myself. I rejected the idea but the thought stayed at the back of my mind, and I read Hasnat Abul Hye's book on her. Learning about her gave me a kind of strength that I needed to pull myself together at that tragic time in my life. She designed the national monument, but left the country feeling betrayed. She didn't get the recognition she deserved. But there was nothing that could stop Novera from producing great work.
What do you want the audience to take away from this play?
Dola: I believe, for women of this generation to move forward, they need to know about the pioneers and the women who carved our history. I feel it is my responsibility to convey this message to the people. Novera Ahmed's life, struggles and talent inspired me so much that I feel a kind of personal attachment towards her. In the play the viewers will see how an artist gets inspiration and strength, and will learn about her brilliant work.