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Posted at: Mar 28, 2018, 1:13 AM; last updated: Mar 28, 2018, 1:13 AM (IST)WORLD THEATRE DAY

Need to build relationship with theatre: Kewal Dhaliwal

Virsa Vihar honours senior theatre artistes from the region at an event
Need to build relationship with theatre: Kewal Dhaliwal
Artistes from the National School of Drama enact a play, ‘Welcome Zindagi’, on the occasion of World Theatre Day at Virsa Vihar in Amritsar on Tuesday. Photo: Vishal Kumar

Neha Saini

Tribune news service

Amritsar, March 27

“Theatre was a part of life in Punjab and its status was never defined by a niche audience or the lack of it. Today, we have lost our connection with theatre.”

Celebrated theatre historian Kewal Dhaliwal shared his disappointment with the stagnation of Punjabi theatre due to lack of audience. “There are so many folk theatre forms that have vanished from the creative scene because of general neglect and rise of competitive media,” he said.

Speaking during an event organised on the occasion of World Theatre Day at Virsa Vihar, Dhaliwal mentioned those communities of folk artistes that cease to exist.

“Nakaals, or imitators, was one of the founding folk forms of Punjabi theatre. These artistes used to perform folk lores like Sassi Pannu, tales of Dulha Patti and Heer Ranjha without any script. They were traveling artistes, comprising of all men, as women were barred from performing arts in old days. The entire community of nakaals in Punjab had dwindled and the ones left do not perform anymore. Similarly, the bhands and marasi communities are also facing a tough time due to lack of recognition anymore,” he added.

On World Theatre Day, he insisted that collaboration between government agencies and cultural groups was required to revive these folk theatre forms. “We need to start building relationship with theatre again,” Dhaliwal said. He had taken up a project to document the information of the old folk art forms, including Kavisheri, Naats, Nakkaals and Marasis, and compiled a folk art directory.

“Earlier, most folk art forms found audience during festivals or weddings, but these days, they find no takers amid changed mindsets and social trends,” he said.

Meanwhile, Virsa Vihar hosted senior theatre artistes from the region to mark the World Theatre Day. Suresh Bhardwaj, one of the mentors at the National School of Drama, presented a play, ‘Welcome Zindagi’, along with another production by Sai Creations titled ‘Bas Die K Sawari. Students of theatre from Khalsa College also presented a song dedicated to theatre.

The Virsa Vihar society also honoured 27 artistes for their contribution to the field of drama. Shiromani Kalakar Jatinder Kaur was the chief guest on the occasion.

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