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Profile
A: Centre for Asian Theatre (CAT), Bangladesh
B: The Bazy Theatre Group, Iran
C: NAAS Theatre Compan@Iraqi  artists in Exile (England, Germany & Holland)
Underconstruction
......................... A.... Centre for Asian Theatre (CAT), Bangladesh

Director:@
Performers:

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Kamaluddin Nilu
Monir Ahmed Shakil^Sabina Sultana^Sardar Aftab Uddin^
Delwar Hossain Dilu^Shahadat Hossain ^
Abul Kalam Azad Shetu  ^Sathi Sarker
Anwar Hossain Chowdhury ^Rafi

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An anti-war theme, developed out from epic story of Sanskrit drama, though traditional principle of the use of abstractive expressiveness is maintained, it is experimentally modified by elements of Bengali folk theatre forms, rites, chorus, dance and modern techniques.Furious fighting scenes with acrobatic action is highlighted, thus breaking rules of traditions whereas stylized acts for emotion must according to prescribed codes. Usually, furious war was delivered by way of verbal literature. Subversion of canonical domains of heritage, K.Nilu, the director, is on the path of searching for selective evolution; similarly, the mission typical to contemporary Asian theatre practitioners has taken.CAT is the only ever first established repertory company in Bangladesh. They are very seriously researching on language of theatre. Having records of wide range of productions, even once staged Chinese revolutionary opera of Maofs period. Selectively acrobatic, astonishingly they have.
Top Urubhangam@Synopsis

Urubhangam is one of the oldest surviving Sanskrit plays, written by Bhasa in the second or third century A.D.  It is inspired by the description of the last war in the great Indian epic Mahabharata. As presented by CAT, Urubhangam is an anti-war play as expressed mainly through the spiritual development of Duryodhana, the major character of the play, after he was mortally wounded in the battlefield. The production is highly experimental, the non-realistic approach characterising the Sanskrit drama being maintained but carried further through blending with folk forms and modern techniques of theatrical movement.

Urubhangam takes departure from the rivalry between two dynasties, the Kauravas and the Pandavas, consisting of descendants of two brothers of the Hindu caste kshatria (the warriors and rulers). As a result of a previous feud, the Pandavas had been forced into exile for several years. However, the Pandavas returned and demanded their paternal heritage. The Kauravas rejected the claim, and as a result war followed. The scene of the story of the play is laid in the battlefield Samantapanchaka. The Kauravas have been defeated, and hundred men of the dynasty have been killed. Only Duryodhana has been spared, and he wants to take revenge for the death of his hundred brothers. 

The sound of a blowing conch-shell – the sign of an imminent war – is heard. This is followed by a pre-performance ritual in which the performers through dance and music describe the glory of Bhasa, the author of the play. The chorus sings a song through which the two kings to take part in the devastating fight ahead, Duryodhana of the Kauravas and Bhima Sen of the Pandavas, are presented. 

- - - - -Duryodhana is seen coming to the battlefield, riding on an elephant and accompanied by soldiers. They proceed with accompaniment of kettle drumming (nakara). The soldiers are singing that they were as if coming to a meeting for the selection of bridegrooms for the nymphs of Paradise and not to a battlefield.

 Also Bhima Sen appears, and a club fight (gada) between the two kings starts. Also soldiers on both sides are involved in the fight which develops into a bloody battle. The fight lasts for hours, and Duryodhana is seen lying on the ground.

 The narrator describes that the war had claimed lives of kings and soldiers, and also of elephants - their dead bodies looking like mountains. The kings are dead, the charioteers are gone, but still the horses are drawing the carts. A trivial animal like a jackal is even dragging down the corpse of a hero charioteer who is still groaning in pain. The entire battlefield is soaked with blood. Vultures are moving here and there to feed themselves from the corpses. 

The narrator further describes how both Duryodhana and Bhima Sen were fighting severely with their clubs although Duryodhana seemed more skilful than Bhima Sen who had been injured in the duel. Krishna, who had taken the side of the Pandavas, is provoked by Duryodhanafs remark that a real hero does not kill an endangered opponent and encourages Bhima Sen to resume the duel. All of a sudden Bhima Sen hits Duryodhanafs thighs with his club and crushes the thighbones. Bhima Sen is thus violating the code of the gada fight which says that one cannot hit the lower part of the body of the rival. The narrator explains how Bhima Sen leaves the battlefield with the help of Krishna after having wounded Duryodhana. Duryodhana remains lying on the ground and groans in utmost pain, awaiting death. He observes some meat-eating birds with pieces of human flesh in their beaks and on their wings hovering around him.  

Baladev, the king of a neighbouring kingdom and an ally of the Kauravas as well as the teacher (guru) of Duryodhana, approaches the wounded Duryodhana. Baladev is burning in fury and wants to take revenge, insisting that it cannot be forgiven that Bhima Sen has violated the rules. However, Duryodhana does not agree that he has been deceived and insists that further war is not of any good as hundred Kauravas are already dead and he himself is about to die. Duryodhana requests Baladev not to take revenge as he thinks that what has happened must be the will of the ultimate Lord. 

Blind King Dhritarashtra, father of Duryodhana, appears in the battlefield to look for his son, accompanied by Duryodhanafs mother, Gandhari. They lament the plight of their son. Dhritarashtra, the father of hundred heroes, becomes very upset to see that his only spared son is going to leave him forever by reason of a deceitful club fight. Duryodhana takes a last farewell with his parents.  

The narrator describes how Duryodhana  is conveying his words of the last farewell to his wives and that he is advising his son to present offerings to the Pandavas after his death and, as the Pandavas are their paternal relatives, to honour and serve them in the future. 

At this point, the sound of a blowing conch-shell is again heard, and hundreds of ravens start flying in the sky in fear. It seems that the war has not ended but is going to start anew. Asvatthama suddenly appears in the mournful atmosphere of the battlefield with a bow in his hand, the twang of which generates panic.  

Asvatthama pledges before Duryodhana that he is ready to fight so as to teach Krishna and the Pandavas a good lesson. Duryodhana advises him to refrain from further fighting as he thinks it will be of no use. Asvatthama tries to convince Duryodhana, saying that Bhima Sen has not only shattered his thighs but also humbled his pride. Duryodhana says that kings are the emblems of dignity, and that he has fought as a hero to keep his own honour. At this point the narrator interrupts and opines that this plight of Duryodhana weighs much less than all the injustice done to the Pandava in their years in exile. Asvatthama, however, tells Duryodhana that he cannot put up with the wrong Bhima Sen has done to him, and pledges that he will begin war in the night, causing all the Pandavas to burn to death. Baladev says to Duryodhana that nobody can stop Asvatthama when he has once decided to destroy the Pandavas.  

Duryodhana finds that he is surrounded by torch lights that appear to him like a forest fire.
The narrator explains that what Duryodhana sees, is not torch lights but the seven seas, the oceans, and the Ganges and Jamuna rivers that have sent air as a vehicle to bring Duryodhana to the eternal world. Duryodhana dies a painful death.
 

In the epilogue of the play it is expressed that war cannot create anything good and that it destroys civilisation. The chorus sings with the following words of Bharata, a great Indian saint of ancient times: gFrom our world, let all unhappiness be removed. And let there be the advent of peace as the benign sun reaches the earth, and let the whole world smile like a billowy ocean.h 

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Top Director's Note

The ultimate aim of Sanskrit drama is to induce a sense of inner harmony and composure, an aim which has to be understood on the basis of rasa theory. As described in the book Natyasastra (The Art of Theatre) dating from around the second century A.D., there are eight rasas, each of which is related to particular basic human emotions (bhavas) which can be portrayed on the stage through words, movement, colour, and makeup. The intention with a particular play is thus to present the emotional states in a manner required to evoke the appropriate understanding among the individual spectators. This understanding or self-experience of basic human emotions is what is called rasa. A play may - and usually do - contain elements related to more than one bhava and rasa but one rasa must dominate in order to reach the final aim of harmony and composure. For that reason, Sanskrit plays also typically end happily, with the good triumphing over the bad or evil. As is typical for many other oriental theatrical forms, there are also a lot of prescribed rules, described in Natyasastra and practised ever since, related to what can be shown on the stage, possible shapes and sizes of the acting area, the length and composition of the play, the use of scenery and properties, etc. The presentation form of Sanskrit drama is non-realistic, and movement and gestures are stylised and based on prescribed codes.

Urubhangam  is a one-act play but the CAT production is shorter than the original play. The non-realistic approach characterising Sanskrit drama is maintained and carried further. However, in order to communicate with the present-day audience, the content of the original play as written by Bhasa has been altered, and several of the prescribed rules for Sanskrit drama have been modified or, in some instances, are not adhered to at all. The vital aspects of classical Sanskrit theatre which have been maintained, have thus been blended with elements of folk forms as well as with modern techniques of theatrical movement and with modern lighting. The expression of the production is episodic representation rather than sequential dialogue, and the mode of presentation is an amalgam of colour symbolism, narration, dialogue, songs, music, dance and other physical movement. In order to facilitate communication with the audience irrespective of their social and linguistic group, physical acting has been made a dominating element of the production along with the use of music and songs. The production should therefore be considered as highly experimental.


Urubhangam is inspired by the description of the last war in the great Indian epic Mahabharata. As in the original play, CAT's Urubhangam production deals with three basic human emotions, notably sorrow, wrath and vigour and with the corresponding rasas - pathetic, furious and heroic. However, through the production I want to create an understanding among the audience that war is in every respect destructive and can only lead to human suffering and death. This means that Urubhangam has been transformed from a tragedy to an explicit anti-war play. This has also implications for which rasa is dominating. In contrast to the original play in which the  furious rasa is the central one, the heroic is the dominating rasa in the production. In an attempt to evoke an understanding among the audience of the destructiveness of war, the brutality of warfare is shown on the stage. A central prescribed rule for Sanskrit drama of not showing fighting or warfare on the stage, is thus broken. This is also in contrast to the original play where the spectators learn about the war only as revealed through dialogues. My intention of conveying an anti-war message has also made it necessary to change the end of the play. Whereas the original with its dominating furious rasa ends with a dialogue  about resumed fighting, an epilogue is added in my Urubhangam production through which it is emphasised that war destroys civilisation. 

The modification of the content of the original play has also implications for which characters appear on the stage. In CAT's production, Bhima Sen – the opponent of the major character Duryodhana - has thus become an important character on the stage whereas he in the original play is mainly described through dialogues. The focus on warfare further implies that some characters appearing in the original play, notably Duryodhana's wives and son, figure in the CAT production merely
through narration.

The rectangular shape of the acting space used in the production is among the prescribed shapes for Sanskrit plays. As is typical for Sanskrit plays, the acting space is divided into separate parts. The main acting area (rangapitha) is down stage middle, and this is where the important actions of the play take place and also where the major character, Duryodhana, is after he has been injured in the war and dies. In line with conventions, there are verandas (mattavarani) on the left and right sides of the main acting area. In this production the separation of the verandas from the main acting area is merely suggested through the use of boxes whereas they according to prescribed rules should be physically separated by pillars. The verandas are used for entrance and exit and occasionally also to create impressions of time and space. The subsidiary acting area (rangasirsa) is located behind the main acting area. In contrast to established rules, this has been further divided into two parts - one used by the musicians and the chorus and also to keep the properties and one slightly elevated part which is used for acting. Distance from the main acting area is created with the help of four pillars, and this elevated part is thus of vital importance to create a strong visual action line. It is also used as the first entrance point for characters of high social status before they enter the main acting area through one of the verandas. Most of the time the entire acting space is used simultaneously in order to create visually strong war scenes. Moveable and hand-held curtains represent a main device of the production design. The use of curtains is one of the original devices of Sanskrit theatre. In the Urubhangam production five different forms of curtains are used. The curtains serve various purposes: they are used for the sake of swift scene transfers and to establish separate acting zones as well as in connection with entry and exit of the characters, and the colour of the curtain is a symbol which is important for evocation of the appropriate rasa

The costume design is mainly inspired by the ancient Ajanta and Ellora cave paintings but is blended with elements - especially decorative and suggestive head gear, ornaments and fabrics around the waist - taken from costumes used in traditional jatra (a major folk theatrical form in Bengal). 

Colours have an important symbolic value. Black and red (pure red and mixed in the form of orange) are the dominant colours - there is a black curtain covering the stage floor, and the basic colours of the costumes of most of the characters are black or a combination of black and shades of red. These colours are expressions of emotions (bhavas) and are meant to evoke the three relevant rasas: black signifies the pathetic rasa whereas pure red stands for furious and orange for heroic. Red is also a symbol of the Hindu caste kshatria (warriors and rulers) to which the major characters belong. In more general terms and important to express the anti-war message of the production, red and black signify blood and death, respectively. Also white (pure white and mixed in the form of gray) is an expression of sorrow and is therefore along with the use of black meant to evoke the pathetic rasa. White is also a symbol of peace and towards the end of the play also used to convey the intended anti-war message. Pieces of fabrics in warm colours are used to express aspects of the characters as well as to break the monotony. 

In addition to what is described above, the blending with folk forms is also manifested in various other ways. For example, the highly stylised acting style of Sanskrit theatre is maintained but combined with the exaggerated acting style of jatra. The notation of the particular form of chanting preceding the dramatic songs used at various junctures of the play, is taken from kirtan, a form of songs related with the Bhakti movement in India in the 16th century and also used in old jatra plays related with the epics. The tune used in the prologue to the play is taken from puncali, another folk form that developed during the period of the Bhakti movement. The dances used in the production represent the forms of lasya (a gentle dance  performed to poetic compositions set to music, and tandava (a vigorous dance attributed to Tandu, the attendant of the Hindu god Siva).

I hope you will enjoy the performance.
Kamaluddin Nilu

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Centre for Asian Theatre (CAT)
62 Barobag, Section-2, Mirpur, Dhaka-1216.

Tel: 880-2-9010469, Fax: 880-2-8012688  E-mail: cat@bdmail.net

ORGANISATIONAL PROFILE 

Background

Centre for Asian Theatre (CAT) was the first, and is still the only, professional theatre organisation in Bangladesh. CAT was established in 1994. It is an overall aim of CAT to develop CAT into a full-fledged professional theatre organisation and promote professionalism in the Bangladesh theatre arena at large. This is a long term and multifaceted task in a country where there is no institutional theatre, theatre education is theoretical rather than practical and the many existing theatre groups are amateur groups run on a part-time basis. It requires a focus on theoretical aspects of theatre as well as on theatre practice, and it means creation of theatre productions as well as training. The aims and objectives of CAT are: 
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to promote and assist theatre research in Bangladesh.
·         to collect all sorts of materials for research and preservation (audio-visual system).
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to organize theatre festivals (modern and traditional) in Dhaka and other small towns.
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to organize Asian as well as international theatre festival every three years in Dhaka along with theatre conference for interaction and orientation.
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to organize theatre congress, conferences, workshops, seminars and symposia.
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to organize exchange programme for theatre education and research.
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to promote and support experimental theatre in Bangladesh.
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to promote and organize theatre for children in different schools in Dhaka and district towns for raising awareness.
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to promote and support womenfs activities and participation in theatre.
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to organize workshops for theatre in education for the adults.
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to promote cultural interaction.
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to build up a library on visual art.
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to build up and run a professional repertory theatre in Bangladesh.

to promote and organize street theatre/community theatre for raising awareness about various social issues.

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@ B.... The Bazy Theatre Group, Iran

Director : Attila Pessyani 
Dramaturge:
Mohammad Charmshir  
Assistant director :
Siroos Hemmati    
Performer :
Fatemeh Naghavi   Setareh Pessyani  Khosrow Pessyani 

A performance set in a relationship between a teacher and girl of impaired  hearing and mute. No matter by whatsoever way the teacher failed to train the girl acquiring any skill by manual apprentice. Education for the girl means only the weapon of resistance. The work is performed inside a cage, which probably seem to be rendition from psychology of Pavlov, but,moreover it is silent outrage from existentialist stance against a given social conditions. The work shows the tremendous inner strength of mind power. Bazy, in Persian, is a genre of mime in Iran. However, the Bazy theatre
> company is very rare group committed in experimental work with bewildering fascination. They received good comments internationally, whilst their domestic social situation is emerging eruptive of changes from theocracy.


The leader is: Attila Pessyani

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 NAAS Theatre Compan@Iraqi  artists in Exile (England, Germany & Holland)
FIGURES  FROM IRAQ,

Producer and author: Faris El-Mashta
Dramaturg: Lamice el-Amari
Musician: Wesam Ayoub Ibrahim Al Azzawy
Performer: Zeinab Al Mashta  Jabber Kassab Abdulhadi  Ahlam  

Malfunctioning of cyber-communication between a pair of female hearts cross between points of refugee and being under aerial bombing, during the war, the screens were jamming with overlapping images, which generating a dimension of multiple reflections, in fusion with the etrue valuef of newsreels images and impacts of historical grievance. Interfacing between the multi-media and turmoil of war-torn souls, this is an avant-garde attempt, the artists stage surrealistically, a tragic-comical convention with rhythm of Arabic music of Santur, for demurring the destructive to archaeology, the civilization being grapedh. Iraqi artists come forward with such fresh artistic experiment,exclusively for this festival, is a very courageous step, despite of mental scars in war suffering. The director and dramaturgy have strong academic background as professors. They seasoned in practices of pan-Arabic collaborations and have been researched on Brecht with modern Arabic theatres. Dr. El-Amari formed her  group; Berlin based Utopia 93, aimed for creativity for multi-cultural practices, after the Berlin wall. To destroy any wall dividing north& south of contemporary arts development is what her group motivated. (optionally to add to, if pace available:  In the original planning, there  were artists supposed to join from the Middle East, however, they gone  disappeared when the war came. Therefore, Dr. El-Amari opted to the present  group of exiled artists.)

FIGURES  FROM IRAQ,
Producer and author: Mr Faris El-Mashta
Dramaturg: Prof. Dr. Lamice el-Amari
Musician: ........

Duration:  45- 50 minutes

Summary of the play

Shortly before, and during the first few days of the war, a young Iraqi girl  (Basma) talks to her cousin in exile (Zaynab) via the Internet.  She sends her letters and pictures about the war and the condition of her own family and friends inside Iraq.  However there is a double control on the Internet:  from the Iraqi authority as well as from the Coalition  Forces. In addition Basmafs  computer is very old, like most Iraqi instruments  dating to the time before the Economic Blockade on Iraq.  Therefore her computer screen shows overlapping images and stories leading to many interesting  and confused scenes. The actors  create these almost surrealist  images on stage, now tragic, now comic, to the accompaniment of the famous Arabic musical instrument: The Sitar.

 * Basma tells her cousin the news which shook Baghdad.  A retired, invalid General  disappeared with his wheel chair just outside his home.  Where did he go?  Was he kidnapped or killed? His wife and daughter  go out to search for him.  Their journey  to find him reveals tragi-comical facets of Iraqi society.   

 * She tells her about her neighbour, the young woman engineer. Because so many  young Iraqi men where killed  in Sadamfs wars, she is anxious about getting married. Therefore she agrees to accept an old man for a husband.  But will this unknown man who lives abroad really come to marry her? 

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       Images clash on the computer screen. Zaynab sees  mass graves, people searching for the remains of their loved one.  Her own aunt among them. Will she find her missing husband who disappeared  25 years ago? Will the faithful and grieved wife discover  the body of her husband, or is he alive and would return to her at last!

·      Zaynab replies to Basma telling her that her father was refused the right of  exile. His application has been rejected although he had provided full evidence of how he was tortured in prison by the Security Police. 

·      Zaynab es  old, overloaded, heavily censored computer breaks down. When it is on again it shows a satirical electronic letter from an Iraqi cat. The Cat  complains that Iraqi garbage no longer has anything to feed him and his family. 

Contact between the two girls is interrupted. Internet, telephone, and news from inside Iraq has come to a halt.

The Coalition Forces have entered  Baghdad.  The dictator has fallen.  The world , through the mass media, now witness how  Iraqfs  archaeology and its civilisation  are being erapedf.

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@ D.... Collaboration Performance by Again artists
This a collaboration performance as a continuation of the previous
experiences between the two contemporary theatre companies, DA.M of Tokyo & the Clash of Hongkong in year 2000, also, a recent Asia meets Asia collaboration work with many Asian artists joined in 2002. The work will be the third collaboration. It will have Hong Kong, Japanese, Taiwanese & Southeast Asian artists to join. This is a practice in searching for experimental expression by Asian. The tentative leader is: Tong Sze Hong, Hong Kong.


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