The eleven-day international theatre festival, BotTala Rangamela 2019, began yesterday at the Liberation War Museum in Agargaon. With an objective of breaking the brutal silence of indifference and embrace the courage of magnanimity, the festival was inaugurated by renowned theatre personality Ataur Rahman.
Secretary of the Ministry of Cultural Affairs, Dr Md Abu Hena Mostafa Kamal, NDC, was present as the chief guest. Playwrights Sadhana Ahmed, Ruma Modak and Shubhashish Sinha attended the opening ceremony as special guests.
“Undoubtedly, theatre has its entertainment value. However, it also plays a role in educating people by forming a connection,” said Ataur Rahman. He applauded the festival organisers for appreciating the people behind the stage. 10 artistes worked behind the stage for this year’s iteration of the event.
“Unlike books, the life of theatre is ephemeral. Through plays, the actors bring the characters to life. There are often profound moments on the stage that strike an actor with an epiphany, that perhaps this is the reason they are alive”, added Ataur Rahman. Playwright Ruma Modak expressed that theatre is her voice of protest.
Professor Shafi Ahmed, President of BotTala, opened up about the name of the organisation. “In the past, people used to gather beneath banyan trees (bot tala). Discussions, festivals and fairs were held around the trees. A banyan tree is, in fact, a symbol of union and harmony,” he said.
“In recent times, we have not really raised our voices against the atrocities around us. I believe that this silence and indifference is brutal. This festival is our attempt to break these patterns, which is why we have chosen the Liberation War Museum as our venue, despite the cynicism of many.” After the inauguration, there was a dance performance, titled Dhak-korotale bajuk jibon, by the Monipuri Theatre troupe.
The play, Crutch-er Colonel, was staged on the opening day. It is based on the biographical novel of the same title, about Bir Uttam Colonel Abu Taher, written by Shahaduzzaman. The novel is adapted for the stage by Soumya Sarker and Samina Luthfa Nitra. The play is directed by Muhammad Ali Haider. It stars Imran Khan, Kazi Rukhsana Ruma, Samina Lutfa Nitra, Toufiq Hasan Bhuiya, Pankaj Majumder, Evan Riaz, Mohammad Saeed, Monjurul Islam Rony, Golam Mahbub Masum, Bakirul Islam and Nafiul Islam.
Crutch-er Colonel is the ninth production of BotTala theatre troupe. The production featured minimalist props, yet portrayed the historical events of the story effectively. A few boxes, two ladders, proper lighting, great music, and a troupe of brilliant actors, brought Colonel Taher’s story to life. The festival will conclude on November 26.