Image by Karan Kapoor
The word theatre means a “place for seeing.” The two most common types of theatre plays are comedy and tragedy, symbolised by the theatre masks. The first recorded theatrical event was a performance of the sacred plays of the in 2500 BC in Egypt This story of the god Osiris was performed annually at festivals throughout the civilization, marking the beginning of a long relationship between theatre and religion.Drama (literally translated as action, from a verbal root meaning “To do”) is the branch of theatre in which speech, either from written text (plays), or improvised is paramount. And the companion word drama is also Greek, dran meaning to do. Classical forms of drama, including Greek and Roman drama, classic English drama including William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe.Theater in kashmir has its own history,if we take a look on the chronicals of kashmir we find the words about theater are wrtten there, which depicts that the theater of kashmir has attained its glory in the twelth century. This golden age of drama in Kashmir lasted 1500 years. It started from the beginning of the Christian era to the fifteenth century. But very little of the dramatic literature has descended to, and that too only in Sanskrit. Yet it is known that theatre was inseparably associated with royal glamour. There also existed a performatory tradition in the vernacular, which, unlike the elite drama, was based on the spontaneous folk imitation of elemental life. These include birth, calamities, death, and rebirth. All of these are in connection with celebrations and festivals of sowing, reaping, and threshing. The Nilamata Purana advised that the descendants of Kasyapa should mark occasions with song, dance, and music, and that a public performance was a form of religious obligation.An improved form of Kashmiri folk theatre was the Pethir. This is a satirical comedy in which several actors exaggeratedly represented individuals, classes, or supernatural beings with the purpose of ridiculing human follies, frailties, and cruelties. Pethirs on social themes, with musical interludes and boisterous harlequins, are still known as Bandi Pethir. This is a genre preserved through the efforts of Mohammad Subhan Bhagat. The impresario of a Pethir repertoire, called the magun, could assume more than one role, improvising dialogue and action on stage to make the audience laugh. A Pethir was performed in any open place where the audience could sit or stand in rings and have full view of the players from all sides. It relied mainly on dialogue and changes of costume to appeal to spectators. The task was particularly difficult for a magun. This can be understandable as Nur-ud-Din writes, Pethir byon byon tiakoy magun i.e. `Characters are various while the magun is one`. Some Pethirs on religious and mystical themes have been preserved through folk memory. Sivilegin i.e. `Siva`s Marriage` and Akanandun are perhaps the most popular which can be traced in Kashmiri folk songs. Sivilegin is the dramatic representation of Parvati`s birth, youth, and marriage to Siva. Akanandun is the story of man`s complete submission to the will of God. A Brahman is given the boon of a son after much worship, but when the child grows into a handsome boy, the Brahman`s surrender to God`s will is tried when he is asked to kill his son and cook the flesh for the sadhu who had prayed for him.
Bhand Pather is very popular with the common masses, because they have retained its singular patrons to date. Pather, in Kashmiri language means a drama, while Bhand is the performer or actor. The Bhands usually do not have any ready made or pre-decided theme and the performer shows his originality by improving according to the circumstances and the material available. No stage property or green rooms are need for the Bhand Pather art form. The music instruments used in Jashan form of art comprise Surnai, which is a Kashmiri version of the Indian Shehnai, Peshrao, big Dhol and Nagara.
With the establishment of the Jammu and Kashmir Cultural Front after India`s independence, theatre received serious attention. Several plays were written and staged to strengthen the Front`s political viewpoint. However, it did not receive any encouraging response from the common masses, its desired audience. The historical programme of `Land to the Tiller` had been successfully implemented, centuries-old feudalism was being abolished by the new government and, as such, the revolutionary anti-establishment message of the `progressives` was an anachronism. In 1950, a new repertory, Kala Kendra, emerged but after presenting two plays on the socialistic pattern, Tabiri khab i.e. `Interpretation of the Dream“ and Son gam i.e. `Our Village`, it returned to the old religious and romantic drama like Krishnajanam i.e. `Krishna`s Birth` in 1952 and Habba Khatun in 1956. The Sri Pratap College Dramatic Club appealed to a wide audience with its productions, which also deviated from the revolutionary theatre.The theater has given so many playwrights,actors,directors and others related to the theater,they have been hounered so many times with differnt and leveled awards. Theatre personalities of Jammu and Kashmir are honored in diffrent region since.
Today directors like M.K Raina – who is one of the India’s best directors who has gained glory in the same field. Who is the very well known director in India. Who is graduate from National School of Drama. Who has worked on so many projects in Kashmir as well as in remote areas of India. Its not only him who has achieved best in His fields but their are also other actors and directors who have created a space for their own.Today the word Theater in Kashmir has widen, it has enhanced its function since the improving situation in valley.The theater in Kashmir is not owned or played by the age groups of 30’s or 40’s but also the youngsters. Day by day theater in Kashmir is making its way widely.It is making space in the hearts of all age groups. The director like Hakeem Javeed on the project to polish the talent of the valley’s children.Hakeem Javeed was attached with a amature theatre group from 1978 to 2000 and from 2000 till date he starts to work on Children Theatre with the help of state’s well known NGO HELP FOUNDATION and it is only one organization who revive children theatre in state It was grate attempt by Hakeem Javeed who Direct a big and famous historical Play SUYYA with children in 2006 and first of its kind the group organize a big children theatre festival in the year 2008 in the mega festival 13 children groups participated and at least 200 child artist took part in the festival at lease 15000 audience witness the performances of children from all over state.Educational Children
theatreWorkshops are going on. There are also other theater groups in Kashmir which is working to preserve the theater and theater activities in Kashmir.Directors like Nisar Naseem,Yousuf Shahnaz, Ayash Arif,Arshid Mushtaq,M.Amin Bhat,Yasir Bahwani have played thier best in the field of theater. Some among them have reached the National level and are bieng appreciated.We hope this dedication towards theater in Kashmir will continue in future.