"We need to update ourselves with current global trends"
Lack of theatre venues in Dhaka hinders theatre practice, thus curbing the growth of young theatre performers and activists -- thinks Lucy Tripti Gomes, actress and costume designer of the troupe Natya Kendra. She is also of the view that lack of exposure to the contemporary global theatre scene renders the collective knowledge of local theatre activists incomplete.
“A troupe usually gets to stage a play once a month. This happens because there's a shortage of performance space. If we can open up more performance spaces in and around Dhaka, in Uttara or Banani for example, we can have more regular shows,” said Lucy.
Lucy joined Natya Kendra in 2000. Before that she was a member of Theatre Centre. She completed her masters in Drama and Dramatics from Jahangirnagar University. Lucy said that she had always wanted to study the subject, but managing time for both studies and her troupe was difficult initially.
She has performed in Natya Kendra's popular plays, including “Aroj Charitamrita”, “Bichchhu”, “Mrito Manusher Chhaya” and “Dalim Kumar”. The actress has also appeared in Prachyanat's recent production “Mayer Mukh”. She designed costumes for “Dalim Kumar” and several other plays, including “Banglar Mati Banglar Jol” (produced by Palakar).
“Palakar's Mukul bhai (Aminur Rahman Mukul) inspired me the most to become a costume designer. I delved into it while I was a university student,” she said.
Studying theatre is a plus point for a theatre activist. But sometimes it's difficult to employ academic knowledge on stage. Drama, as a subject, deals more with theories than real world experiences. Lucy worked with a development theatre company for four years. While working, she realised that concepts such as 'Theatre of the Oppressed' or 'Forum Theatre' are not fully applicable to Bangladeshi people. “When I tried to stage a play in a certain rural area, I had to consider the local dialect, taste and need, environment etc. I had to keep Augusto Boal's theories aside,” said Lucy.
“On stage too, it is harder to execute such academic knowledge, as everyone is answerable to the director. What we can do is share our ideas with the director,” she added.
In this regard she said, very few troupes are producing experimental plays in Dhaka now.
Last year Lucy attended the Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theatre. At the festival, she noticed that troupes from other countries are much advanced as far as experimental productions go than Bangladeshi troupes. “We need to stay updated with theatre trends and breakthroughs in Argentina, Bulgaria or Australia. We should have firm knowledge about contemporary world theatre,” she said.
“In Cairo, I saw a production in which the performers' body language was so explicit and expressive that without understanding a single word, I could grasp and thoroughly enjoy the whole show. Our plays are predominantly dialogue-based. We have to graduate from this trend. Theatre has its own language,” she said.
She is of the view that creating a platform for repertory theatre is much needed now. Creating space for aspiring directors, actors and technicians is also important.
Lucy thinks that theatre troupes need to reach out to more people. “We are arranging festivals and attending those. We are conferring awards on ourselves; giving ourselves compliments that we are doing great. This is more or less a delusion,” she said.