3 years ago
School Kids Shine At National Solo Theatre Festival
KATHMANDU, Nov 7: When someone asks a child ‘what do you want to be in the future?’ the most common answers are either a doctor, nurse, engineer, or pilot. If someone says they want to become a singer or an actor, more often than not, they are not taken seriously.
Though morally every profession should be treated with equal respect, the society most often fails to accept low paying jobs. This needs to change so that people feel comfortable to enter whichever profession they please and have passion for.
Working along the same idea, Kathmandu Pragya Kunja School is hosting a three-day National Solo Theatre Festival for Children with Shilpee Theatre that kicked-off from Monday.
As many as 32 students from 25 schools, including eight schools from outside the Kathmandu Valley, are performing at the festival. This is the first-of-its-kind festival which is being hosted at the premises of Shilpee Theatre in Batisputali from November 6 to 9.
“Subjects like math, science and accounts are highly encouraged in Nepali school curricula. But that is not the only way for one to make a living. Arts and drama should also be included in the curriculum as they hold a bright future for the young minds. With this festival, we aim to provide a platform to the students interested in drama, and foster an environment for them to learn in a national scale,” shared Tanka Chaulagain, director of the festival.
According to the Sunita Poudel, principal of the host school, “Though this is not a competition, but to boost and motivate the participants, we have set a cash price of Rs 5,000, Rs 4,000 and Rs 3,000 for top three performers.”
Speaking at a formal program held before the competition, veteran actor and chief guest Harihar Sharma said, “Acting cannot be taught, but one can learn techniques of acting. Anyone can be Saugat Malla and Dayahang Rai if they are skilled, curious, hard-working and serious about acting.”
Along with Sharma and veteran actor Desh Bhakta Khanal, directors Manoj Pandit and Dipendra K Khanal along with actor Dirpson Jung Rana were also invited as guests for the day. On the first day of the festival, six children gave their performances on different social issues.
One of the powerful performances was by Prerana Bhattarai from Ambition Academy, who charmed the stage with her set titled ‘Pari’. She played a victim of Chhaupadi, a social evil still in practice in majority of the villages regardless of being declared illegal. She showed how girls, who after bleeding for the first time, have to stay separate from their family and cry alone in pain under a shed.
In a strong voice, she enacted how she felt chained, how even educated parents could not save her from being a victim of the social evil and how her cries went unheard among her own family when she felt unsafe in that cold shed. Her set showed how still a lot needs to be done to change the lives of girls in the villages.
In two other performances that followed, Laxman Ishar and Biplav Pudasaini of Bright Future Higher Secondary School chose storytelling to perform their sets. Laxman in ‘Kaag Ra Kamila’ entered as an old man who comes to tell stories to children of his village. His sudden change in attitude, where he started impersonating characters of his stories—a crow, an ant and a hunter—ended up making those in audience laugh out loud. “Never had I seen a crow and an ant talk in English like that and to see young talents perform like professionals was an amazing experience for me,” said Salina Upreti, a post-graduate student sitting in the audience.
Laxman retained his original character and left the stage with a message ‘to help each other and stay together like the ant and the crow’. Biplav, on the other hand, impersonated alcohol in ‘Maa Pa Se’ showing instances of how and where alcohol has affected families and taken lives. He danced and enacted people who destroy their relationships because of alcohol.
The other three performances of the day showed contextual dramas. Praju Shrestha of Kathmandu University High School played a man and a woman of a low income family caught daydreaming after the man wakes up from a dream of winning a lottery, also the title of her play ‘Chittha’. She also played two other village women and showed how unrealistic dreams shatter.
Saharsha Shiwakoti of Akshara School played a boy who lost his parents in front of his eyes in an explosion at his birthday party. In his play titled ‘Nyaye Ko Khoji’, he depicted the pain of losing one’s parents and showed how even after losing his sanity he still sought justice for his parents. To the music of a violin in the background, he can be seen reminiscing the past and questioning why the justice had not been served.
In ‘Aama Ko Maya’, Nitasha Adhikari of Akshara School played a mother who was fed up of looking after her mischievous kid. She threatens to leave him but her ‘love for her son’ never allows her to leave and she returns to take care of him in every step. Throughout her set, Nitasha narrates her actions and synchronizes her performance with the bits and pieces of sounds.
Ankit Raj Mainali of Kathmandu Pragya Kunja also did a performance playing a middle-aged man. Ankit played a quintessential villager going through his everyday life. He had written the script himself and spoke in a local dialect about the dowry system that is still prevalent. His character refuses to participate in the system as a father.
After Monday, 26 solo acts will be performed on the days to follow at Shilpee Theatre. All the participants are being marked on the basis of their acting skills, overall performance and their connection with the audience. The jury comprises of Harihar Sharma and Desh Bhakta Khanal.
According to Tanka, all participants of the festival would get a chance to take acting classes every Saturday at School Theatre Nepal in Maitidevi.