LIFE

Women to take centrestage

Shakuntala; backstage, London-1936

Shakuntala; backstage, London-1936  

WOMAN POWER is all set to take over Delhi. And in a package that has drama written all over it. The New Year brings with it some of the best theatre production made by women across Asia.

The National School of Drama in collaboration with the Indian Council for Cultural Relations brings into focus the much treasured resources of the group Natarang Pratishthan, a theatre resource centre, with the festival "Poorva''.

The event will showcase the works of women directors in Asia in a fortnight-long event supported by the Central Department of Woman and Child Development, the Japan Foundation, the Ford Foundation and other groups from the Netherlands and Singapore.

Beginning January 3, the festival will have nearly 20 theatre groups from Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines and India participating. Though there has been no attempt to select woman-based issues, the organisers agree that a majority of the plays would be based on issues concerning women. To ensure that the festival helps bring the focus on woman- based issues, it has been also decided to organise three different exhibitions showcasing pictures of eminent theatre artistes, posters depicting the works of stalwarts and a separate one on women from fields other than theatre.

At a press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday, the NSD announced that the Poorva celebrations would see some 16 women artistes showcase their works in a special exhibition in the Capital.

That is not all. Also planned are theatre workshops in colleges as well as debates and quiz programmes that would encourage theatre at the university level.

With only six of the 21 productions to be staged being non- Indian, the flavour of the festival will nevertheless be `desi'. Some of the big Indian names to feature in the festival will be Meeta Vashisht, Nadira Babbar, Anuradha Kapur, Usha Ganguly and Kirti Jain. One of the major highlights of the festival -- the women directors' conference -- will see the presence of at least 60 directors, actors and scholars. The sessions will discuss various issues like the politics of gender, collaboration or cross discipline work, director-performer relationship, Asian aesthetics as well as evolving vocabulary for analysing women's work.

By Lakshmi Balakrishnan

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