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Chautari Natak: Practicing the art of playback theatre

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Throughout the history, literature and fine arts have experienced a lot of changes. People evolved and so did their art and culture. Out of many fine arts, theatre has also seen a lot of changes. These include the development of religious theatre to realistic and absurd theatre as well as the different forms of theatre like stage theatre, street theatre, forum theatre, etc. Among such many theatrical forms, playback theatre is one of the most entertaining type that exists.

At Mokshyada School, Gaurighat, Kathmandu; a relatively new theatre, Manjari NatakGhar has been practicing the art of playback theatrical form for the past 5 months under the name Chautari Natak. This type of theatrical form is unique from stage and street theatre due to its necessity to involve the audience as part of the play, and Manjari NatakGhar has been quite successful to pull of this improvisational type of theatre. Under the name of Chautari Natak, Manjari NatakGhar has been regularly performing the playback theatre every 1st day of the month since the beginning of this year, 2073 BS.

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Suresh Chand, the director of Manjari NatakGhar and his group of students begin the session with a live music and singing introducing this form of theatre. The name Chautari Natak, suggests the discussion of the audience and actors during the play. The actors, Aakanxya, Gunjan, Umesh, Renuka, Pashupati and Prakash improvise to perform a play from the audience’s experience. Their well-timed and synced performance to the live music provided by the group of actors themselves, makes this type of forum an interesting and refreshing one to visit.

In this regard, Manjari has been highly successful in introducing a unique approach to this type of form.

Mr. Chand as the spokesperson places one of the audience into a hot seat, inquiring their past experience. After a very interactive Q&A session he asks the audience to point any of the four actors on the stage who might be able to express their experience properly. Then actors start a mono performance soon to be joined by the others in a well-coordinated and improvised play, with no doubt the audience on the hot seat would be impressed. Sometimes, though, Mr. Suresh himself directs the actors in small bursts of sentences to which the actors perform with lightning fast reactions.

Chautari Natak unique to Manjari NatakGhar in the contemporary time period, will be a new experience to anybody who visits one of the sessions. There is no definite ticket pricing, but donations are accepted. This hidden form of art is what the Manjari is about, and Chautari Natak is its essence and individuality.

By Atul Bhattarai

Intern Reporter, Glocal Khabar