None of the nine theatre halls in the capital have been designed for presenting experimental productions based on traditional performing arts, which require special seating arrangements for the audience.
Traditionally pala, jatra and other folk-based performing art forms are presented on an empty stage, surrounded by audience on four sides. Such stage creates quite an intimate atmosphere and helps the artistes to connect with the audience.
Only the Experimental Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy can be modified to provide such arrangement and theatre experts said the task is both time consuming and expensive as it requires rearrangement of ramps and seats.
They demanded that a venue should be established for experimental productions based on traditional performing art such as pala, shong, alkap, lathi khela, gambhira and jatra.
‘It’s our duty to establish our theatre halls based on our age old traditional theatre instead of blindly following western theatre styles. Over the years traditional theatre has been gaining popularity among the theatre lovers,’ said professor Afsar Ahmed, a teacher of drama and dramatics.
‘But, it is regrettable that there is no ideal theatre hall for holding such performances in the country. All the theatre venues in the country have been developed for staging western style plays,’ he added.
Eminent director Nasiruddin Yousuff, who has a number of folk-based experimental productions to his credit, said traditional performing art based productions require an empty stage because rural artistes usually perform in an open venue.
‘The stage has to be positioned at the centre of the audience so that the audience can enjoy the performances by the traditional artistes,’ he said.
Bangladesh Jatra Federation president Milon Kanti Dey said, ‘Whenever we want to stage a jatra production the only venue we can use is the Experimental Theatre Hall but it takes a lot of time to prepare it.’
Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy’s director general Liaquat Ali Lucky, who himself is a theatre director, admits the necessity of building a stage for folk theatre.
Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy has already sent a proposal to the cultural affairs ministry and asked for necessary budget for the construction of a new theatre venue, with necessary facilities required for staging traditional experimental productions, at the open space in front of the National Art Gallery.
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