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Theatre as a platform

Oriya theatre group Natya Chetana participated in a three-week FITA workshop organised in Belgium recently.



Subodh Patnaik of Natya Chetna represented India.

PAUL BIOT of Center du Theatre Action (Belgium) started a process of voicing protests through theatre art in different parts of the world by organising a festival named Festival International Theatre Action (FITA). The dream was that a day would come when theatre activists from different parts of the world, carrying different idioms of theatre and themes, would converge to develop a collective voice. Philippe Dumoulin (Doudou) of Theatre du Public visualised such collaboration among artistes from Africa, Palestine, India and Belgium. That is how a process began.

It was decided that 16 performers from four theatre groups of the said regions would work to develop a play and perform in the four countries. In 2004, it was decided to organise FITA, . after a preliminary discussion among the members of the four participating teams and orientation on a common, relevant and contemporary subject having impact in all the four countries. The issues included politics and economics around water. . It was titled "Blue Gold."

Two actors each from Palestine, Belgium, Rwanda and India worked with two theatre directors Cloudin from Belgium and Subodh Patnaik of Natya Chetana (Orissa), India.

Common voice

A three-week theatre workshop was organised in Belgium for knitting the presentations of the four countries to project the common voice of resistance. The performance was limited to Europe at this stage where an opinion needed to be created among the public.

Natya Chetana, founded by Subodh Patnaik in 1986, has been carrying theatre art through bicycles to reach the villages in remote pockets, taking part in people's movements on environment, women, culture and economic exploitation. Chetana first participated at the FITA in 1998.

"Blue Gold" is based on the theme that it is unfair to say that water is getting depleted naturally. Water is not a commercial item and is more like a `Right to Life'. So, it is not " Blue Gold'. There is a scarcity due to natural problems. Technology can help retrieve the situation. In Belgium, water problem is an economic issue as it had become a commodity. In India, the problem is a human rights issue as pollution of water is preventing people to live near rivers; and now rivers are proposed to be privatised. The situation in Africa is similar to that of India. In Palestine, the water problem is a political issue, as water has become the bone of contention between Palestine and Israel.

Sujata Choudhury and Devi Prasad Das were the two actors who participated from India in the show.

BIBHUTI MISHRA

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