The use and application of songs in Bangla Theatre since its beginning in the late eighteenth century till date was analysed by Indian theatre researcher and singer Dr Debojit Bandyopadhyay at a lecture workshop held on Monday at the seminar room of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy.
Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation, in association with Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy, organised the event where theatre activists from different troupes participated.
International Theatre Institute honourary president Ramendu Majumdar, BGTF secretary general Kamal Bayezid and BGTF vice-president Lucky Enam, among others, were present at the workshop.
Bandyopadhyay began his lecture with the observation that theatre song is not an independent form; rather it depends on the play. There have been many songs from various theatre productions since the nineteenth century which has gained popularity on their own, but that is a complete coincidence, a lucky one though.
While incorporating songs in a theatre production, a playwright and the music designer must assure that the songs further the progression of the play.
‘Use of songs in Bangla Theatre is influenced by the traditional performing arts of this region. All our traditional performing arts are either replete with songs or totally dependent on them,’ said Bandyopadhyay.
The first ever proscenium theatre that Lebedev brought in the then Calcutta also had a few songs. The Russian playwright Horasim Lebedev, who learnt Bangla and was well-informed of the traditional performing arts of the region, knew that he needed songs to attract the audience, informed Bandyopadhyay.
While in the west, theatre usually does not use songs, except in musicals, which is a different genre, Bangla Theatre cannot do without songs.
Bandyopadhyay took recourse to playwrights like Girish Ghosh, Dwijendralal Roy, Rabindranath Tagore and contemporary playwrights like Manoj Mitra and SM Solaiman to show how songs have been used to supplement the progress of a play.
Want stories like this in your inbox?
Sign up to exclusive daily email
More Stories from Theatre