Aleya Twist, a modern-day female adaptation of the famous novel Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens, was premiered at the Experimental Theatre Hall of Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy on Wednesday.
Though the novel, which depicts a society thousands of miles away where the poor and orphans are exploited, was penned 200 years ago, not much has changed since then in our attitude toward the underprivileged.
The play, set in the context of present-day Bangladesh, revolves around a ten-year old girl named Aleya, who is an orphan like Oliver.
Adapted by Leesa Gazi, the play satirises child labour, the recruitment of children as criminals and the presence of street children.
Directed by Filiz Ozcan, the play opens with a scene showing Aleya struggling to survive in an orphanage, where the children do not get three meals a day. She is sent off to a household to work as a domestic help. However, she flees her employers to escape domestic abuse.
She soon gets recruited by a pickpocket gang. Though she hates stealing, she is forced to do it to feed herself.
Her thirst for life is irresistible. She meets every predicament with hope and, like Oliver, miraculously turns her life around with love and dignity.
The British Council brought the play on stage in collaboration with Komola Collective, a London-based arts organisation dedicated to telling stories from the female perspective. It was supported by English and Digital for Girls’ Education Clubs of Tangail and BRAC.
The cast of the play comprises actors from local theatre troupes along with young girls recruited through EDGE Clubs in Tangail.
Ritu Akter played the role of Aleya. Besides, Lochon Polash, Mehmud Siddique, Bristi Roy, Mitu Rahman, Shahnewaj Efte and others acted in the play.
‘I have really enjoyed acting in the play. It was a great learning experience for me. I want to thank British Council for selecting me for the character Aleya,’ said Ritu Akter.
‘The story of Aleya is a common one. The children are the future builders of our nation. We must do all we can to ensure their safety in society,’ Wafiza Rahman, an audience member, told New Age.
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