Nagorik Natya Sampradaya, one of the top theatre troupes of the country, is celebrating their 50th founding anniversary, and four and a half decades of exhibiting plays for a fee, through elaborate programmes starting today.
The three-day celebrations will be held at the capital's Mahila Samity, one of the earliest prominent theatre staging venues of the country. The announcement was made at a press conference at the Dhaa Reporters' unity on April 10. Chairman of the troupe Aly Zaker, vice chairman Abul Hayat, general secretary Ataur Rahman, festival committee convener Sara Zaker, and executive committee members Nasirul Haque Khokon and Pantha Shahriar were present on the occasion.
The festival will open at 4:30pm today at the 'Ananda Angan' of Mahila Samity, where three important initiatives will be announced: The Nagorik Grant for Creativity in Theatre, and memorial awards dedicated to Syed Shamsul Haq and Khaled Khan, two recently-deceased eminent cultural personalities who were part of Nagorik. The opening day will also feature a cultural programme and staging of snippets of the troupe's plays.
The second day's programme will incorporate the festive spirit of Pahela Baishakh, with songs by Farhin Khan Joyita, and elocution and recitation by Ataur Rahman, Asaduzzaman Noor, Abul Hayat, Nima Rahman, Naznin Naz, Naila Tarannum Kakoli and Mahfuz Rizvi.
The third day's proceedings will include the premiere of the troupe's new play, an adaptation of “The Open Couple” by Italian playwrights Dario Fo and Franca Rame. The play has been adapted and directed by Sara Zaker.
Throughout the three days, an exhibition titled “Nobo Natyer Obhijatra” will also be on display at the Mahila Samity. Nasirul Haque Khokon has planned the festival, with design and decorations by Aupee Karim and Sriya Sharbojoya.
Nagorik Natya Sampradaya was founded in 1968 in pre-independence Bangladesh at the residence of eminent journalist and TV personality Fazle Lohani, in presence of thespians Ataur Rahman and Zia Haider. The troupe produced plays for TV and radio in the erstwhile Pakistan era, but could not bring plays to the stage. After Liberation, the troupe staged their first production, Michael Madhusudan Dutta's “Buro Shaliker Ghare Ro” in 1972. The next year marked the first time a theatre troupe held a ticketed show of a play, with Badal Sarkar's “Baki Itihash” directed by Aly Zaker being staged at the British Council auditorium on February 3, 1973. Since then, the troupe regularly staged plays at the Mahila Samity and Guide House stages, with some of the country's biggest cultural names involved with the troupe - Syed Shamsul Haq, Ataur Rahman, Aly Zaker, Sara Zaker, Asaduzzaman Noor, Enamul Haque, Lucky Enam, Abul Hayat, Khaled Khan to name a few.
Over the decades, Nagorik has given the Dhaka audience a taste of some of the world's biggest plays and playwrights – including works by William Shakespeare, Moliere, Albert Camus, George Bernard Shaw, Bertolt Brecht and Anton Chekhov, as well as works of Bangla literature by Rabindranath Tagore, Michael Madhusudan Dutta, DL Roy,Buddadev Basu, Syed Waliullah, Humayun Ahmed and Syed Shamsul Haq. Some of their most iconic productions include “Dewan Gazi'r Kissa”, “Achalayatan”, “Nuroldiner Sarajibon”, “Irsha”, “Roktokorobi” and “Opekkhoman”. Not just at home, but Nagorik has staged their acclaimed plays at prestigious theatre venues across the world.