J&K Academy of Art, Culture and Langugaes is on a revival path. On Mobday, its annual Drama Festival took off for the first time after 2009. Nine nine Kashmiri plays will be staged in as many days at the Government College for Women, M A Road auditorium.
The festival began with the play Rath Vandai Malinyo presented by Kalidas Theatre Group. The play written by prominent theatre person and playwright, Makhan Lal Saraf, was directed by Ayash Aarif. A large audience including theatre persons watched the play and appreciated the performers.
Declaring the festival open, Secretary J&K Academy of Art, Culture & Languages, Khalid Bashir Ahmad said that the Academy was committed to the promotion of theatre in the State and the current festival was a significant step towards this direction. He said in March 2013, a drama festival was held at Jammu which was appreciated by the audience and theatre lovers in general. So far as Kashmir was concerned, he said, this annual activity remained disrupted for some years and it was his priority to revive the activity in the summer capital. He said although there was no restriction of language for the festival the fact that all the plays being staged are written in Kashmiri augurs well for the local language.
Khalid said that Kashmir has a very old tradition of theatre about which references are available in our ancient texts. The 6th-7th century text, Neelmat Purana, talks about religious festivals, social occasions, agricultural festivals and first snowfall of the winter when besides music and dance, drama activities were carried out in ancient Kashmir. Historically 4th to 7th century AD is considered to be the golden period of Kashmir’s art forms including drama. The theatre in Kashmir, he said, had seen both its periods of glory and decline but at no point in time has it altogether disappeared from the cultural scene. The oldest folk theatre of Kashmir known as Bhand Paether has survived the vicissitudes of time and is enjoying the same popularity even today. He recalled that apart from the current 9-day long drama festival, two month long folk festival, organized by the Academy, is going on at different tourist places of Kashmir, depicting the rich folk traditions of the Valley including Bhand Paether.
Other plays to be staged during the festival include Pagah Sholi Dunyah (June 4), Secret Plan (June 5), Musafir (June 7), Na Maloom (June 8), Yeli Shaam Gatchhi (June 9), Nyay (June 10), Phir Thur (June 11) and Shinakhti Card (June 12)