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Thangla- A Cold Story of a Snowy Desert

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Story of the unexplored lands hidden in the mist and snow

Kathmandu, September 25, 2016: Rites, rituals, culture and custom vary in accordance to the geographical positioning for a country, a society or a group of indigenous people. A similarly designated play, Thangla, shows the environment of the distant lands hidden in the mist and snow. Thangla- a cold story of a snowy dessert.
Thangla is a play of family and friends living by the laws of the ancestors, to get on with their daily lives. A wonderful play written by the well-known Nepalese playwright, poet, and writer Saru Bhakta, Thangla weaves a story of love, grief, anger with fun elements and comic scenes all mixed within. The story tries to depict the countless years of struggle between the conceptual ‘freedom’ and the ‘social responsibilities’. It a story of differences between two different generations with their own perception of the ancient rituals and customs.

The play was artistic and used exaggerated physical movements which added to the beauty of the play. The picturesque idea of using the people as vultures in dance forms during the practiced ceremony of aerial burial of the dead among the Sherpa community, as well as the wonderful sculptural carvings found on different Gumbas and Stupas, brings about a unique charm of its own in the play. The story how an innocent, introvert yet polite and helpful member of a younger generation faces a cruel dominating system of society into sleeping with his own motherly sister-in-law while being in love with his beloved. The act is performed around this plot with lots of ups-and-downs throughout the play.

The play was directed by one of the most prominent directors in the field of theater, Anup Baral. This play was performed twice before in Pokhara and Kathmandu at 1998 and 2000 AD respectively. Upon being asked for the motivation of directing such a play, he shared,”During my course completion in National School of Drama, I couldn’t find a story that could hold my interest. Upon doing a few searches, this story Thangla, by Saru Bhakta, caught my attention, enticing my desire create something new and unique. Such an unexplored story, I thought it would be a wonder to the audience. Normally, in news as well as theater we only hear and see events and stories regarding hills and Terai regions, some depicting town, city while others portraying the rural villages. Presenting the Himalayan Sherpa communities’ rites, rituals, and customs with modern technology would probably be a fresh experience to the audience. This thought itself was a motivation to me.”

Baral also stated that every society has its own culture, yet this polyandry system practiced among the higher geographical divisions, was a local story with its own unique appeal. Among all the presentations of the play, Baral and his colleague Prakash Ghimire( Gyalpo), faced much difficulties with this latest cast. With abstract sequences syncing with contemporary movements of the ensemble, as well as set differences was a really perspiring thing for Baral. Mentor of the ensemble, Ghimire also commented, “Since this cast didn’t have much interactions with the traders of the Himalayan region, rehearsing and bringing out the dialect and tone of the Sherpa community was really difficult. But somehow we manged to do just that.” Baral also added, “This is the beauty of the theater. The final show becomes the best one ever with all the minor adjustment and improvements we do.”

The lights and sounds system of the play was extraordinary. With sounds providing the background for held up emotions, while the lights focusing on all the cast onstage, every moment was well-defined by the crew back-stage. The costumes showed exactly the environment necessary for the play and the dances of the cast on-stage with some moments of comic relief was really enjoyed by the audiences.

The cast on stage was played by Prakash Ghimire( Gyalpo), Puskar Gurung( Tashi), Diya Maske( Lopsang), Darpan Rajbangshi( Sanglema), Keshav Rai( Jigme), Roy Shrestha( Pemba), Swastika Rajbhandari( Kelshang), Kiran Chamling Rai( Chiring), Namita Gurung( Lhamho), Suryaman Limbu( Thalu) and the ensemble of chorus. The on-stage cast and the off-stage crew of Anup Baral provided one of the most exciting moments in modern theater plays.

Photo: Naresh Shrestha/ THT
Photo: Naresh Shrestha/ THT

One of the members of the new cast, Roy Shrestha described his experiences, “This was my first time trying such a difficult dialect, but with help of my teachers and the mentor Ghimire, I somehow managed to capture it. I required about one and a half-month to pull all of myself together into the character.”

 

From: Bhadra 17
To: Ashwin 15
Time: Evening 5 pm (except Tuesdays) 1 pm on Saturdays
Venue: Shilpee Theatre, Battisputali
Booking: 014469621, 9851223023

 

By Atul Bhattarai