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Indian Drama Festival in Sydney Fringe

BY Geoff Sirmai Sydney Fringe Publicity | 03-Sep-2012
Hindi Diwas is the day the Hindi language was constituted as the national language of India way back in 1949 on the 14th September. To mark the historic event, Abhinay School of Performing Arts is celebrating Hindi Diwas with Abhinay Rangmahotsav – two days festival with Gandhari…in search of light on 15th September and Indradhanush –a festival of short plays in Hindi on 16th September.

Theatre buffs are in for a treat when well-travelled production Gandhari…in search of light comes to King Street Theatre on Saturday, 15th September at King Street Theatre as part of Sydney Fringe Festival. Gandhari is one of the tragic characters of Indian Mythological epic Mahabharata and is very relevant to the contemporary socio-political context.

This will be followed by ‘Indradhanush’ on 16th September which consists of short plays from writers such as Alex Broun, Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Sukhpreet Dhamoon, Arvind Shukla, Iqtedar Abdi and more. There is also a special performance of award winning play ‘Something to be done’, written and directed by Sepi Bahgaei, starring Gabriel McCarthy.

Gandhari..in search of light (play) is a 60-minute solo-performance which was premiered at National Institute of Dramatic Arts in 2005 and was invited to be performed at South Asia Day in Melbourne and major cities of India. Gandhari is one of the tragic characters of Mahabharata, the great Indian mythological epic and is very relevant to the contemporary socio-political context. She was born a princess, but was forced to marry a blind man, Dhritrashtra, who was much older to her.

She had a boon that she will bear 100 sons, which later became a curse. Bhishma, the granduncle of blind Dhritarashtra, forced Gandhari's father, the King of Gandhar, to negotiate the marriage. Before marrying, Gandhari tied a strip of cloth on her eyes and vowed to lead a blindfolded life. Although it is popularly believed she did so to experience the blind world of Dhritarashtra, Gandhari's resolve to remain blindfolded was a silent protest against the power games and the forced marriage. Eventually, she became the mother of 100 sons, the Kauravas, and one daughter, Dusshala. She remained blind to the power games, hatred and the growing animosity between her sons and their first cousins, the Pandavas, which later led to the great war of Kurukshetra.This play is a contemporary version of the great epic Mahabharta from Gandhari’s point of view. It highlights the anti-war theme and the role of women in educating the society to give up violence. Gandhari was a very strong and intelligent woman, who closed her eyes to protest against her marriage which was a violation of her rights as a woman, at the time when her contemporaries, Kunti and Madri were free to choose their husbands. As a result she grew indifferent to everything that was happening with her sons and Pandavas. She could not be of help much to the wife of Pandava’s wife Draupadi when she was being insulted by her own sons.

Later, she refused to bless her sons for Kurukshetra and remained strong in her anti-war and pro-justice stand. But if she had been aware of her power and control over her sons, she would have used it to prevent war and eventual death of her sons.

This will be the second year; Abhinay School of Performing Arts will be celebrating Hindi Diwas through theatre involving local Indian-Australian writers, directors and actors. This year Rangmahotsav will be part of Sydney Fringe Festival, celebrating Hindi language with the wider audiences.

Performances:

Gandhari…in search of light on 15th September at King Street Theatre from 4pm to 5.15pm.
No interval
Language: Hindi with English sur-titles

Indradhanush –Festival of short plays in Hindi on 16th September from 3pm to 5pm with short interval Language - Hindustani