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Theatre is not just about the play you finally see on stage. It is much more—from the story to the set design, to the actors, everything has to be meticulously planned," says Waman Kendre, director of the National School of Drama (NSD), which will host the eighth Theatre Olympics, starting 17 February, under the aegis of the Union culture ministry.

The Theatre Olympics, established in Greece in 1993, has travelled to various countries since. This is the first time India will host the prestigious multi-city, multi-production, starting from Delhi. The festival, spread over 51 days, will travel to 17 cities, including Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Patna, Imphal, Varanasi, Chandigarh and Thiruvananthapuram.

“This will be a good opportunity for the audience to see well-received plays from around the world, as more than 30 countries are going to be a part of this, from Australia, Azerbaijan, France to Russia," says Kendre. 

“Theatre is a great equalizer and unites people of multiple cultures and traditions. Only the best have been selected through various shortlists, which we hope will both entertain and educate viewers," says Arjun Deo Charan, acting chairman of the NSD Society, the NSD’s governing council.

‘Valivadhe’. Photo: Prasanna Perdoor
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‘Valivadhe’. Photo: Prasanna Perdoor

The list includes, for instance, Natir Puja (Bengali), Raja Bhartari Nu Vesh (Gujarati), Yakshgana Ballet—Panchavati (Kannada) and Shikhandi (English). The foreign language plays include Sukaru Asapuwa (Sinhala), Caesarean Section, Essays on Suicide (Polish) and The Suspended Thread (Italian). Some plays, not limited by language, can be described as musicals— such as Serai Kela Chhau and Jogiyar Mahabharat from India and Ticina from Italy. 

“My play uses Tandum Ke Kadde (Couplets Of Pandavas) along with Manganiyar music performances by artists from west Rajasthan and tries to remind viewers of the almost lost art of musical storytelling. It is a great opportunity for us to take it to a larger audience," says Dinesh Yadav, director, Jogiyar Mahabharat.

There will be close to 450 theatre performances, along with 250 other events that include workshops, seminars, masterclasses and face-to-face discussions with the stalwarts of theatre. Entry is on first-come, first-served basis.

The 8th Theatre Olympics will start on 17 February at Red Fort, Delhi. Timings and venues (across 17 cities) vary. For details and the schedule, visit www.8ththeatreolym pics.nsd.gov.in

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