Masterclasses, seminars, workshops and meeting the director are unique features of the maiden Bangladesh International Theatre Festival 2019, a festival which truly paved the ways of artistic exchange among the theatre artistes of Bangladesh. Renowned Indian playwright, dynamic teacher and theatre director Ratan Thiyam mesmerised the Dhaka theatre aficionados, while sharing his unmatched creative thoughts and ideas.
The seminar room of the National Theatre Hall teemed with theatre personalities and activists who went to listen to Ratan Thiyam, who created a performance space in the middle of the room. Noted critic Professor Shafi Ahmed read out a brief account of the master director in the presence of eminent thespian Ramendu Majumdar and Nasiruddin Yousuff and others.
“To the best of my knowledge, I am still in search of understanding theatre in my constant works and pursuits,” said Ratan Thiyam in his presentation, “Theatre is an integrated form of art. Say for example, you are going to learn dance. You have to learn music simultaneously while doing so. To learn music, you will discover that you have to get acquainted with painting, as the composer creates a painting with Raga and Tal. Thus, theatre will make you travel all the realms of art.”
Sharing his personal experience with the audience, the magical story-teller distinguished his cultural roots in Manipur, and his formal theatre schooling at NSD, Delhi. “Completing my education at NSD, I discovered that I know nothing about myself,” he said. “Although I come from a family of dancers, I am ignorant of the language of art. My father sent me to religious Gurus, who taught me about my roots. Heritage is your strength.”
For him, nature and human beings are the most beautiful creations of the universe. Art is the mediator between the two. “There are many flamboyant flowers having no smell, on the other hand, many wild flowers diffuse sweet smell. You have to find out which one will best suit you. For which you have to approach nature.”
Regarding his rendition of Macbeth, a masterpiece by William Shakespeare, Ratan Thiyam said, “The advantage of work on classics is that you can always live in the classical ambience. You can always talk to the masters of classics like Tagore, Shakespeare, Sophocles and Ibsen.
Ratan Thiyam spoke highly of Bangladesh. “Theatre practice is the most widespread in Bangladesh, among the entire south Asian region. This time the government is organising the festival,” he added. “I hope that Bangladeshi theatre will flourish more as time passes. I am really fascinated, being in the festival. It’s a special thing for me to work in front of Bangladeshi audience.”
He also demonstrated his theatre training method, with the participation of the members of his troupe The Chorus Repertory Theatre. It was a great experience by the participating audience at the masterclass, where the maestro and his disciples demonstrated traditional corporeal, vocal, musical and theatrical training methods.
Followed by the masterclass, a mesmerised Nasiruddin Yousuff said, “Ratan Thiyam is a special personality. We all know that he is an outstanding director; but today we observed how excellent an orator he is,” he said. The legend showed in the workshop how a creative person thinks, and how he can enrich a modern theatre from a traditional one. Renowned thespian Ramendu Majumdar bestowed him with a bouquet at the end of the speech.