This short overview is written by me, Johannes, a new volunteer from Germany, who has been working as a volunteer at Sarwanam since 2 ½ months now. The purpose of this text is to show the view of a foreign, almost outstanding person, on the work of Sarwanam.
Sarwanam is moving on towards an auspicious future. In the past, Sarwanam, as a theatre with political claims, was an important institution for the integration of social aspects and the spread of democracy. Performing street drama in nearly every part of Nepal as well as in other countries, such as Thailand or India, Sarwanam has gained the reputation of being a unique kind of theatre due to its aims and subjects.
Since 4 years, the group, under the guidance of Sarwanam’s founder Ashesh Malla, is in process to build up an own theatre-building in Putalisadak, Kathmandu. Soon the building will be completed and marking the beginning of a new era for Sarwanam.
With the new field of acting on stage continuously the Sarwanam Drama expands its work. Of course the old fields of work such as street drama, giving workshops and others will remain.
As the Sarwanam-group is young, therefore it is powerful!
Before I started my work at Sarwanam, I didn’t expect the group to be so young. From Germany I’m used to watch theatre whose members have an average age of 30. But in Sarwanam the average is far younger. It seems to me, that especially the mixture of young actors and an “old” director as well as some older actors will be a successful receipt for the future of Sarwanam. The experience of Ashesh Malla and his older actors makes the Sarwanam in all its features stable and authentic, while the spirit and the motivation of our younger members will advance the drama by giving new and modern ideas and input.
Furthermore there is something special about the Sarwanam theatre.
In comparison to other dramas and work-fields the Sarwanam makes almost no difference between work and private life – in a very positive way.
As the Sarwanam has been a non-commercial theatre without the attempt to compete with other theatres and branches the whole “family” of Sarwanam was collected by inviting friends and/or by being willed to support Sarwanam as a volunteer. Therefore the group behaves like a family and a circle of friendship. This has got the result, that the whole atmosphere at Sarwanam is friendly and happy, which is essential for the success and the good work of it. If somebody has problems, one will always get help from other Sarwanam-members.
Speaking for a foreign person, I have to say that the Sarwanam-building seems to be on a good way to fulfill the claims both of nepali-visitors and foreigners.
Since I began my work at Sarwanam two month ago, a lot of things developed forward rapidly.
The Café Rangakarma in the first hall of the building looks great with its bar at the corner and especially the floor appears to make a very serious impression on me. The same with the exhibition-room. Both floor and the light-installation make mankind feel serious and warm, entering the room. Although the library is quite small, it will have a similar effect on the enterer due to its style, which is similar to the café and the exhibition room.
Concerning the audience it is an exciting experience to recognize that there is also a theatre which will play in a hall, which is far longer than broad and has a so called “close”-stage.
Furthermore there is the rehearsal-room. A room at the ground floor of the house, which is already in its final status, after working hard on it for a few months. With one wall provided with mirrors the room is essential for our actors to reflect their acting during the time of rehearsal.
On top of that there is a total new office for our director Ashesh Malla, which was built by cutting the old rehearsal and working-room into two pieces. The old working-room is now used just as a small lounge for the Sarwanam-members.
With the latest achievements of a broad link-internet as well as a new generator, which will spend electricity for the whole building, the Sarwanam-building is approaching the status of a professional theater complex.
At last I am very curious about what will be the reaction of visitors on the outer color of the building, because I never saw a theatre-building in such a bright blue color! But I suppose that this will make the Sarwanam building appear even more interesting.
The actual Play
As the Sarwanam-building will be completed soon, our Sarwanam-group is now practicing rehearsals for the Opening Festival of the building. The name of the theatre play, which will be staged is: “itihaash ka baki prishthaharu“ (Remaining Pages Of History). It’s a play, written by Ashesh Malla, which was first staged in Nepal in the summer of 2007 and due to its success also in other countries afterwards.
In this play innocent villagers get struck into a conflict between Maoists and the Government, because the governmental army suspects one of the villagers to support the Maoists.
The suspicion evokes a serial of cruel and unintended incidents around the small community. Against this background the play focuses on the development of an unlucky woman, who loses almost whole of her relatives during the struggles between Maoists and Government.
In order to the typical style of Sarwanam’s way of acting I was quickly able to understand the content of the play without understanding the Nepalese language.
One main characteristic of this style is the exclusion of almost any requisites. The actor only acts with his own body, using it to demonstrate which item or object he his using.
Thus the Sarwanam emphasizes on mime and symbolic body movements to express social based stories.
In comparison to German theatre, for instance, the Sarwanam drama is more expressive, the actors act more dramatically.
I am curious about the coming year and full of anticipation to be able to observe the work of Sarwanam in such a time of critical change.
Some expressions of the rehearsal of “Remaining Pages Of History”: