Sarwanam in India!

This is a short diary of our tour to India, Bubaneswor, between 28th of February and 11th of March, were Sarwanam performed the “13th Multilingual Theatre-Festival” of Bubaneswor.

1st day:  9am: we all met at Naya – Buspark to start the long way to Bubaneswor, Orissa, India, to join as one of 7 other theatre groups in the 13th Multilingual Theatre Festival of Orissa. The bus drove us to Birgunj, a town located directly at the border to India. The travel took us far longer than we thought. We rested one night in a guesthouse at the main road. Everybody was fine, only the mosquitoes got on our nerves.

2nd day:  In the early morning two “tempos” brought us over the border to Raksaul in India. There we took the train to Kolkata (Howrah). It was a very long, but interesting travel. The train drove us nearly 24 hours through the north-east of India and we slept in fold out bed-seats.

3rd day: After the more or less rehabilitating sleep in the train we arrived in Kolkata in the morning. We had a lot of time to explore and discover all corners of the big train station of Kolkata, because we had to wait 18 hours for the next train to arrive. But well, that’s Indian railway.

4th day: Lucky wise the train arrived and departed punctually. As exhausted as we were from the long rest in Kolkata we all fell asleep fast. The train arrived in the early morning in Bubaneswor. There one of the coordinators of the theatre-festival welcomed us and brought us to a guesthouse near to the theatre-building. After taking rest and discovering the guesthouse and the streets around it and enjoying a very tasteful meal, we saw one of the seven theatre plays, which were shown at the “13th Multilingual Theatre-Festival” in the theatre-hall  of ”Satabdira, Kalakara”.

è The “Multilingual Theatre-Festival” is a Festival with a long tradition. It takes place since thirteen years now. “Multilingual” in this case means, that the staged theatre- plays are performed in different languages, which are spoken in India, Bangladesh and Nepal.

5th day: First rehearsal in the morning in a room of the guesthouse. In the afternoon we visited the centre of the “Natya  Chetana” -theatre, which established in the 80ties and aimed to make political and social theatre on issues such as land-occupation and democracy. It is a very alternative theatre: In the 90ties they were practicing “cycle”-theatre around the district of Orissa (all theatre-material is transported with bicycles, no use of cars, busses etc.). Similar to Sarwanam “Natya Chetana” also focuses on street-theatre.

In the evening we watched the fourth performance of the Festival, performed by a group from Bangladesh.

6th day: The day of our performance. We arrived early this morning at the theatre to build up our theatre-background and to check the light and sound system. After a little lunch break we continued the rehearsal, this time with all features and the real settings of the performance on stage. We rested in the theatre the whole day long, only for a small lunch we drove back to the guesthouse.

è For the Festival Ashesh Malla decided to stage the play “Remaining Pages of History”. The story was written some years ago and it was already performed in Nepal as well as in Thailand. It deals with the extremely cruel civil war, initiated by the Maoists, which took place in Nepal until the year 2005. In the play a small innocent village gets involved into the struggle between Maoists and Army by accident. At the end a whole family dies without cause.

Evening: The play was performed and the people loved it, everything went fluently and as it was planned! The group can be really proud of it! But there were even more good news! Additionally we got to know that the Indian Embassy in Kathmandu wants SARWANAM to develop a theatre play based on a novel of the famous nepali literate “Rabindranath Tegore” It should be staged in May.

That night we went to bed very late, discussing the good and bad sites of our performance.  Everybody was happy.

7th day:  Sarwanam went to the theatre in the morning to give a discussion about the performed play one day before. Most of the criticism was positive. A lot of people liked the play in his whole composition; some liked the special style of Sarwanam-drama to put the focus on the body language. That makes the play understandable, although mankind doesn’t understand the spoken language. The negative critic was only facing small details of the play. The rest of the day we used to just hang around and take a rest of the exhausting heat of Orissa. Later that evening we watched the 6th theatre play of the week.

8th day: We got up from bed very very early in the morning to go to Puri, a famous town at the coast of Orissa, which is popular for its huge Hindu-temple “      “. Members of the “Natya Chetana” theatre accompanied us and helped us to get through the chaos of Puri’s streets and traffic. Thanks a lot!

After the more or less short visit of the temple the Sarwanam members took a bath in the Indian Ocean. That was a pleasure for everybody, especially for those who didn’t see ocean yet. In the evening we saw the last theatre-play of the festival.

9th day:  After relaxing in the guesthouse for the whole day and a short visit in the office of the” Natya Chetana” – theatre we took our last meal with delicious food provided by the kitchen of the guesthouse and drove to the train station in the evening to make the long way back to Kathmandu again.  At the train station we had a long farewell with the president of the Satabdira, Kalakra – theatre “Dhira Mallik“ and the main coordinating persons. We were all very thankful for the great services, which were provided for us during our rest in the guesthouse. Thanks a lot.

11th day: Early in the morning we reached Kathmandu, tired, but with good feelings in our stomachs, telling us that the future will contain a lot more projects for us to work on!

About sarwanam

Sarwanam is a group of activists who create change in society with the means of theatre, especially street drama. The group was formed 30 yrs.
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