Child’s play, and a very special one too, from northeast

June 17th, 2008 - 1:05 pm ICT by IANS  

By Maitreyee Boruah
Guwahati, June 17 (IANS) Assam’s celebrated theatre personality Bhagirathi is all set to direct a very special play - a comedy starring disabled children from the northeast. The yet to be titled play will see spastic, physically challenged and autistic children enacting various roles. A light-hearted play, it has 35 actors.

“This is a first of its kind endeavour in the northeast. We appreciate the effort and hard work put in by Bhagirathi to bring these special children together on stage,” Meera Kagti, director of the Shishu Sarothi Spastic Society of Assam, told IANS on phone.

“Theatre is a superb medium for these special children to express themselves. Such an attempt will definitely help in creating awareness about disabled children in society.” The northeast has around 125,000 disabled people.

The play will be first staged in this Assam city in the last week of July and then taken across the northeast.

“This is a unique creation, something that happens once in a while, where all the performers are fighting one or the other disability. But, believe me, all the child actors are superb and are learning the craft very fast,” said Bhagirathi, 41.

An alumnus of the National School of Drama (NSD), Bhagirathi, along with her actor-director husband Baharul Islam, set up the Seagull Theatre Academy in Guwahati in 1990.

Some of Seagull’s highly acclaimed productions were staged during Bharat Rangmahotsav festival, organised by the NSD in New Delhi, Mumbai’s Prithvi Theatre Festival, and the Sangeet Natak Akademi’s festival.

This time, before selecting her cast, Bhagirathi got in touch with several organisations across the northeastern region that are working in the field of physical and mental disability.

“I am glad that all these organisations gave me immense help in selecting my actors,” reminiscences Bhagirathi.

After choosing her cast, she started rehearsals June 1. “All are amazing actors and showed talent in picking up things pretty fast. I am sure we will stage an entertaining play,” said Bhagirathi.

An official in Guwahati’s Vocational Rehabilitation Centre (VRC) said: “When Bhagirathi came to us with the idea, we decided to extend her all the help. We had also asked our counterparts in Agartala to help us select the actors.”

Activists believe the disabled in the northeast are a neglected lot.

“Unfortunately, very little work has been done for disabled children across the northeast,” said the VRC official.

“We’re working on a project to provide proper rescue and rehabilitation measures to the disabled in the northeast,” said Anju Talukdar, member of Disability Law Unit, Northeast.

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