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Manipur’s Theatre is facing a dark time

by Rinku Khumukcham
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Like any other organ of mass media, proscenium theatre is very much a part of our life. The illustrators in this medium are as tough as those of the newsmakers. Like, the newsmen, who harness all their energies to alert or make aware of the day to day happenings around us, these proscenium players forecast the reality of the present contemporary society. However, a slight difference between the two is that, while newsmen condemn the venality of politicians, law enforcers, and corrupt administrators in the form of direct reporting or editorial write up; the proscenium players interpret the retrospection of the societal conflict and tension with the stylization of the body movement and dialogue. However, this intrapersonal oral medium of communication cannot rally its impact to the society without the help of newsmen due to the limitation of its receivers. The paradox arisen here is that this society still does not recognize the importance of this medium of mass media – on its roles in reforming society. The ignorance of the theatre culture as a source of wisdom by the so-called bureaucrats or politicians is the most unfortunate part.
When a treasure of Manipur’s culture is facing dark times, people of the state need to appreciate “Khundongbam Brojendro Cultural Trust, which had successfully organized the 5th Khundongbam Brojendro Theatre Festival 2020 at JN Dance Academy here in Imphal in January middle week.
The present-day society faces numerous problems, but one problem that every well to do family or else those working on hand to mouth is having more than one wife. The first day saw Khundongbam Brojendro’ “Kari Nungee Nupi Lonjaruba” – a play that depicts the crisis of a husband who has two wives. This play needs to be watched particularly by our bureaucrats, lawmakers and even those in the law enforcement sectors. At least one troubling but mostly obscured problem could have been solved if those watching the play rethink on why noted playwright Khundongbam Brojendro wrote it.
Theatre (proscenium plays) originally was considered as a tool of societal reformation and some continue to serve as a tool to correct the wrong in the society in most understandable languages. However, the popularity of proscenium plays is degrading these days when it comes to the state of Manipur. There may be many reasons for that – 1) theatre performers lost interest due to requirement of higher-income which they felt will never get by remaining in the profession, 2) Production cost of a single play is high and cannot be recovered from the audience forget about payment of the artists fees, 3) Commercialization of theatre production is next to impossible due to lack of understanding about the value of theatre among the elite class as well as to the common people, 4) Substitution of the medium by low-cost digital medium which saves both time and money and, 5) lastly but not the least some people is converting the precious treasure as income-generating means as the government is providing some grants to encourage them despite knowing the fact that popularizing of theatre (proscenium play) needs qualified performers or artists.

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Imphal Times is a daily English newspaper published in Imphal and is registered with Registrar of the Newspapers for India with Regd. No MANENG/2013/51092


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