Bhubaneswar, June 7 (LocalWire): With the aim of reviving the cultural roots and highlighting the socio-political issues through traditional folk theatre, Natya Chetana recently staged its record 79th play.
The group is unique in many ways. It annually travels to villages on cycle to learn from the real-life experiences, taken from everyday lives of the average educated people of Odisha.
Paddling their way through sharp cliffs, bumpy roads, and scorching heat, this theatre group searches for true stories with the natural essence of a remote village that they can dramatize and present.
The theatre group camps wherever their day’s quest for untutored talent ends and again starts its bicycle journey the next morning.
Subodh Patnaik, the man behind it loves to call it “cyco-theater” or a theater traveling by cycles; and the group has been doing this for 33 years.
The experiment and the initiative have helped Natya Chetna create a huge repository of original stories. Of the 79 plays that the group has staged, 65 are original stories while the rest are adaptations.
Who is Subodh Patnaik?
A graduate from Utkal Sangeet Mahavidyalaya, Odisha’s elite institute for performing arts, Patnaik set up Natya Chetna in 1986 and Natya Gram or a village for theatre in 1991.
Nestled 5 km from Khurda town, Natya Gram is connected with Bhubaneswar through national highway number five and is a place where artists can have complete freedom and can be guided by their own rules.
The theatre village allows artists to practice as per their style and beliefs, hosts stage shows and theatre festivals, conducts training programmes, and also boasts of a theatre museum.
With Natya Gram, a unique theatre village in the center of rural Odisha, Patnaik aims to change the age-old British theatre customs.
According to him, his encounter with Badal Sarkar changed his views about the theatre-shy Indian society and he started thinking of theatre as a tool to bring about the social changes.
Patnaik is convinced that the forms of theater which survived through the passages of history were mobile and flexible and hence he decided to build a theatre group of his own that can reflect those mobile and flexible real stories.