The Festival

Every evening throughout the seven days, IPTA branches from different provinces staged ballet, folk and classical dances, songs and plays before large audiences. The whole pandal hummed with songs in various languages, the sound of dancing feet and voices rehearsing plays, as from morning to mid-day the different squads rehearsed their items, on the stage, in the green room and in different corners of the pandal, or artistes from one province tried to learn the songs from another, in order to take them back to their own people.

It is not possible here to give an item by item description of the Festival programme which stretched over 40 hours with over 200 artists participating. Outstanding among over a dozen plays were Delhi Art Theatre 's operetta Call of the Valley, Dalil a drama from Bengal , and a tamasha on unemployment by Anna Bhau Sathe staged by the Maharashtra squad.

The dance items included classical styles like Bharat Natyam and Kathak as well as folk dances from Assam , Maharashtra and other places. The powerful tribal dances of the Warli people and Manipuri and Naga dances presented by very young artists who had to travel for over six days to reach Bombay , proved very popular. Dances by D. K. Roy of Uttar Pradesh and classical dances by Miss Indryani and Rajmani charmed the audience.

There were a number of good songs from different provinces. The beautiful folk melodies by Romen Barua of Assam and the voices of Sulochana and George, a worker, from Kerala, moved the audience, while Nirmal Chowdhury with his songs in the folk tunes of East Bengal was the main attraction and in great demand.

We could show some very good, educative and inspiring items but there were also others which could not impress the audience. lacking as they did any vitality or technical perfection. Thus the stage being the mirror of the IPTA movement, showed up our weaknesses such as insufficient contact with the people and insufficient attention to technical skill and stagecraft. It carried concrete illustrations of our shortcomings which had been discussed during the commissions and made us conscious of our immediate tasks in overcoming them.

On the closing night, after Film Director Hemen Gupta had presented the two Peace Prizes to Delhi and Bengal , the Conference concluded with a grand chrous in which members from many different provinces joined.

Thus ended the Seventh All India Conference after adopting a Manifesto, new organisational principles and a Charter of Demands which will guide IPTA to develop into a national organisation in the service of the people, creating new artistic productions of a high standard representing people's lives.

Niranjan Sen

Unity, May-June 1953

 

Develop Theatre Arts: Recommendations of the Drama Commission, 7th IPTA Conference


We have discussed the various issues raised by the delegates at Seventh Conference of IPTA, during the deliberations of its Commission on Drama, and have arrived at the following conclusions:

The primary function of IPTA is to develop Theatre Arts in this country. Drama being the main component of these arts, it must concentrate on the development of Drama by enlisting the co-operation of playwrights in its work, by a creative inter-pretation of classical plays, by carrying forward the democratic elements in our culture and by fostering the growth of a truly contemporary drama, which reflects the life and struggles of the people for a freer and fuller life.

IPTA believes that dramatic arts by their very nature, cannot dispense with social content. In the present conditions of life, the only valid social content is that which is on the side of social progress and is an incentive to social transformation to achieve greater economic and social justice for our people.

Such a dramatic art cannot be confined to one kind of play. It has room for tragedy as well as comedy, for tears as well as laughter. Not only must greater attention be paid to full length plays with social significance, but everything possible must also be done to develop the many folk forms of drama, which have been evolved by our people through the centuries to express their sorrows and joys.

The Commission feels that the tendency that stage craft (decor, lights, costumes, etc.) are not necessary for village plays, is wrong and everything possible must be done to develop the existing village stage. This process will help to bridge the gulf between the village and the town.

Attention must also be paid to those forms which thrive on satire which is in some ways the most effective weapon to ex-pose the injustices, follies and contradictions of a social system based on greed and suppression of people's rights and culture.

All healthy entertainments, which in no way debase the taste of the people and treat sex and crime in an antisocial way, must be encouraged. The IPTA in its dramatic works, while always keen to imbibe healthy influences from abroad, must strive to see that its work is rooted in the national tradition. All cosmopolitan tendencies, which have no relevance to our living conditions and social struggles, must be opposed. We shall strive to develop the specific culture of our various nationalities.

The writers for IPTA must have intimate contact with the people and should deal with only those themes with which they are familiar. Basing dramatic works on preconceived ideas and slogans without an intimate knowledge of the life with which they deal, can only distort reality.

A question has been raised, as to who shall be the hero and who shall be the villain of our plays. From the above it is clear that our hero can be he who is on the side of social progress, and our villain is he who impedes this progress.

 

 

 
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