Monday, May 1, 2006

When politics is staged as street play

Kathmandu, April 30:
The statue of late King Prithvi Narayan Shah was standing as ever at the entrance to the Singha Durbar and a score of youths came to the street and immediately the mass turned into a street show.
Within 20 minutes or so the artists depicted political developments in the last three years.
The street drama that took a shape out of a mass gathered in for a sit-in protest organised by civil society members artistically presented how people’s force can force autocrats to return people’s sovereignty. It was a product of Gurukul, a modernised theatre group, and included known stage artists like Nisha Sharma and others.
They started with a queue of laymen applying for the post of prime minister — fighting among themselves in hilarious atmosphere.
Then they turned into demonstrations for total democracy and police suppression started. People were bewildered when they found state-run media and private media disseminating information about the people’s movement in completely different ways.
The policemen, standing at the back for security, became emotional when the artists performed how brutally the peaceful protestors were thrashed.
And finally the people won. A joyful mass came out and joined artists with a cheerful slogan “Loktantra Jindabad!”
Director of Gurukul, Sunil Pokhrel, said that the performance was a token of solidarity with the civil society members, who were staging a sit-in on the street.
“It was not a well-written drama but an impoverished piece. We prepared it just this morning with inputs from artists,” he said.
Badri Adhikari’s solo performance was another hit on the street, where senior human rights activists were demonstrating peacefully.
He played roles of common people, protesters, policemen, doctors as well as the King in his 60-second drama. During the acting, he used only one word — “loktantra” — to convey the meaning of the story.
And poet Arjun Parajuli cited his revolutionary poems, which were also applauded by the protesters. "Kings are for sale in my shop," read one line.
Civil society members Dr Devendra Raj Pandey, Krishna Pahadi, Shyam Shrestha and others were demonstrating in front of Singha Durbar to make sure the parliamentarians announce constituent assembly.
Meanwhile, some youths were chanting slogans against corrupt parliamentarians.
They warned that they would not let corrupt MPs to enter Singha Durbar.Later, the protesters blocked the road and burnt some banners and boards. They changed anti-monarchy slogans and demanded a republican set-up.
Published: May 01, 2006 12:00 am On: Kathmandu

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