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Theatre World

                                                   Photo credit: Mr. Roopinder Singh

Neelam to stage friendship play in Japan 
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 25
Neelam Mansingh’s theatre continues to speak to the world. At once indigenous and global, it beautifully illustrates the value of universality in theatre -- something that lends Neelam’s creations their delicious distinctness.

A part of that flavour would be there for the Japanese to savour when Neelam takes her most splendid production, “Nagamandala”, to Japan for participation in the Indo-Japan Friendship Year celebrations. She’s the only theatre practitioner from India to have been invited for the show, inspired by the need to bring a scattered South-East Asia together.

“For all of us in South-East Asia, the tools of theatrical training have come from the West. The proscenium is from the West, so are the practitioners we grew up admiring, be it Ibson or Shakespeare. But there’s hardly a Japanese or Sri Lankan playwright that we know. The Japan Foundation recognised the need to establish connects between these culturally-alienated nations, that share so much history,” said Neelam, delineating the goal of the festival.

Personally, Neelam is not unnerved at the prospect of performing in Japan as she has earlier travelled to the country for Japan Festival of the Arts in 2003. At that time she presented “Kitchen Katha”, another of her celebrated productions, that fused source material with a performance style grounded in Punjabi aesthetics. “We had Japanese subtitles. The dialogue between performers and viewers was complete,” said Neelam.

This time around, “Nagamandala” (a Punjabi play) will also be subtitled in Japanese to aid the process of comprehension. The choice of production was intriguing, admits Neelam, for whom the play has special significance. This was the play that catapulted her on the national theatre scene. She first did it in 1989, and later restructured it in 1995, on the insistence of Girish Karnad.

Even today, something about the play fascinates the creator in her. “The play has a typically local setting. Even the snake myth is such a local metaphor for the world of desire and knowledge that I wonder how it will get across at a cross-cultural level.”

“Last week, I was in Japan for a press conference in the wake of the festival. The idea was to offer an insight into the production that I was getting,” said Neelam, chosen for the Japanese event by an independent impresario, Junko Hamachan, who earlier saw her “Kitchen Katha”.

The impression lasted, so much so that Junko came down last year to Chandigarh to witness “Nagamandala” when Neelam presented it in November. “She responded to the play. That’s how it’s now travelling to Japan. I am excited about the show because it’s a play that has never failed to engage my passion,” said Neelam, whose performance will be supported by the Japan Foundation and the Indian Embassy in Japan.

The play, written by Girish Karnad, translated into Punjabi by Surjit Patar and set to music by the legendary B.V. Karanth, will be staged in Tokyo on August 4 and 5.

 (This write up has been carried in The Tribune: 26 July 2007)

                                                   Photo credit: Mr. Roopinder Singh


Friday, October 27th, 2006

It was definitely an experience that left an impact on us. Attending the performance of Nagamandala, a play directed by Neelam Man Singh Chowdhry and presented by The Company was something the company I was with would talk about for weeks to come.

The above is an excerpt from a blog of Mr. Roopinder Singh of the Tribune fame. He has written several books; is a keen photo-journalist. Kindly click on the following Link to read the complete post:



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