As a 2nd year student of National School of Drama (NSD), New Delhi, I had the opportunity to attend the “Asian Theatre School Meet” from 17th to 22nd May, 2011, at Beijing, China. The festival, precisely named as “Asian Theatre Education Centre,” was hosted by Central Academy of Drama, the most prestigious theatre school in China.
It was the festival’s 6th international forum, with attendees from around the globe. Almost all the known schools of Asia participated, including NSD from New Delhi. The festival was charged up by various enlightening lectures from well known “theatre gurus” of international fame, and also by spirited performances from the students of the representative schools.
As an actor, this was my very first performance on an international platform with NSD’s production, “KARNA,” which was directed by Padamshree Kanhailal. This experience just transformed me and enhanced my prowess as a performing artiste.
NSD’s performance was really applauded in Beijing and we students received various positive feedbacks from the people. We were able to analyze our play through completely new and different view points. It was interesting because very often we take things for granted and we are blinded by things that are familiar to us. But when a spectator or a critic belonging to a foreign culture points certain things out, our eyes automatically open.
For them, new meanings and layering’s are created; sometimes a common gesture says more than what is intended and at times a completely opposite interpretation is given. As a theatre student, this kind of knowledge becomes precious.
And this is where the search for a “universal theatre language” begins. Understanding the Indian theatre grammar and how it holds itself in Asia or the world, realizing and studying the differences and the commonalities of stage languages has helped me develop my intellect as a theatre worker.
Moreover, the festival was not all about performances and lectures alone. There were dinner meets and mini parties, encouraging the students of Asia to interact among them selves.
It was a beautiful experience as we learned a lot about their culture and specific theatre traditions. It gave a clear view of how theater in Asia is developing and which route we have to take for a better future - a kind of road map for theatre students.
As for my visit to China, I found it to be a beautiful and organized country. The general standard of living is high; people are very warm and disciplined there. Their delicious cuisine deserves its world fame.
Me being from Nagaland, unlike the others from NSD, I found many commonalities with the Chinese. Because of similar facial features, I could mix very well in the crowd. Quite a few times I walked around the city footpaths and tried to interact with the locals. Though language was a problem, communication was not difficult. Life is beautiful there.
O Yes! I must mention this: “I climbed the Great wall of China!” There was a trip organized to the Great Wall for all the participants on the final day of the forum. And do I need to say that it was “wonderful!” No wonder its one of the seven wonders of the world.
Bendangtemsu Walling, 2nd yr student, National School of Drama, New Delhi.