The government needs to play an active role to improve the standards of theatre and the artists in 2017, theatre activists said.
In this regard, they said, the government needs to introduce professionalism in theatre and decentralise its operations at the district level.
They pointed out inadequate government support, lack of professionalism, and Dhaka-centrism, which tends to exclude a wider view of theatre in the country, as the major obstacles to attain vibrancy and inclusiveness.
‘There is a crying need for professionalism. Without it no long-term vision for theatre will work. Also, our theatre is still largely capital-centric, which is not a good sign,’ said actor-director Mamunur Rashid.
‘We must address these issues in the new year.
‘I think the government can start by giving salary grants to those involved with theatre, and build more halls across the country to attract more theatregoers,’ he added.
The need for decentralisation of initiatives and resources can be understood from the fact that 24 new productions were brought out by the Dhaka-based troupes in 2016, while the number was less than 10 outside the capital.
As far as vibrancy is concerned, the reopening of the historic Mahila Samity Mancha was not of much help.
And in the absence of professionalism in theatre, many talented theatre actors and actresses are moving to the small or silver screens, which are deemed to have better prospects.
‘We cannot expect our youth to spend their time and energy in something that does not pay. We must ensure that theatre activists can earn their living from theatre,’ said Mamunur Rashid.
Ramendu Majumdar, honorary president of International Theatre Institute, said the year 2017 should begin with hopes to overcome all existing obstacles.
‘Our theatre is struggling on many fronts and we need to fix it with renewed determination.
‘Theatre activities in the capital have long been concentrated in Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy. We need more halls in different parts of Dhaka and also outside of it,’ he added.
Senior thespian Ataur Rahman spoke in the same vein. ‘There are many districts where there are virtually no activities. This situation needs to change,’ he said.
He thinks Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy and Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation should go for long-term projects to promote theatre at the grassroots level.
Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy director general Liaquat Ali Lucky, also chairman of Bangladesh Group Theatre Federation, is hopeful there will some positive changes in the year.
‘Theatre is subsidised everywhere. We hope in the new year our theatre will go one step closer to achieving professionalism,’ said Lucky.
‘We also hope to get new halls in different parts of the capital. There will also be different initiatives to promote theatre across the country,’ he added.
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