The agitation was against deputation of artistes to other units

The Mysore Rangayana artistes, who had resorted to an indefinite strike in March to protest against their deputation to Shimoga and Dharwad units, called off their agitation abruptly leading to doubts about the issue fizzling out. The Department of Kannada and Culture had deputed six artistes each to the centres, which led to a furore.

Joined by amateur artistes and members of the Sahiti-Kalavidara Okkoota, the deputed artistes had revolted against the order. But, they had reported for work at the respective units later. The then Director of Rangayana, Mysore, B.V. Rajaram, who was against the deputation, was sacked.

The struggle of the artistes has not ended in a fiasco, says Muddukrishna, a senior amateur artiste. He told The Hindu that artistes and theatre-lovers were discussing measures to strengthen the autonomous status of the Mysore Rangayana. For that, they needed a strong Ranga Samaja body and a repertory here, he said.

The strike had to be given up because the artistes thought it would be wise to deal with the new government. The decks are now clear for talks with the new dispensation, Mr. Muddukrishna said.

“We want to frame new policies in the revamped Ranga Samaja so that any director taking over in future would follow the same rule,” he said.

He stated that three rounds of informal discussions had concluded between the artistes and theatre lovers in that regard. Something concrete would emerge in the next four or five days. Efforts were being made to mobilise the opinions of intellectuals, writers, musicians, and theatre lovers before coming out with a draft policy, Mr. Muddukrishna said.

Another artiste felt that with the deputation of the 12 artistes the activities of the repertory here had “died” a natural death. The six artistes left here were not able to carry out any activity, thanks to the “break-up” of the team. More than 200 productions were offered by the Rangayana artistes in the last 25 years and none was staged after the controversy broke out, he said.

The Bhoomigeeta auditorium used to be full, earlier, with spectators. There are hardly any visiting the weekend shows now, he lamented.

However, according to information gathered from the Rangayana, the deputation of the artistes has not affected the weekend theatre activities as feared by many. Amateur troupes were performing every Sunday. Plans were afoot to conduct the ‘Havyasi Natakotsava’, an annual feature, soon.

Amidst controversy regarding the deputation, the students of the Bharatiya Ranga Shikshana Kendra have got a break to perform at the Rangayana, which should do them a world good. The Chinnara Mela programme was a success as the six regular Rangayana artistes were there to help.

It may be recalled that senior theatre personality Rameshwari Verma, Jnanpith awardee U.R. Ananthamurthy, and writer Devanoor Mahadeva had extended support to the artistes’ cause.

The current Ranga Samaja lacked a proper “vision” and “policy” to guide the Rangayana unit in Mysore which was set to celebrate its silver jubilee, Ms. Verma had observed. The Okkoota, joined by other artistes and like-minded individuals, had observed a ‘black day’ at the Vanaranga here, coinciding with World Theatre Day on March 27.

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