The British Council Cultural Centre, in partnership with Komola Collective, worked on Aleya Twist, a modern day Bengali adaptation of the celebrated English novel, Oliver Twist, by Charles Dickens, as a part of a three-week project. Komola Collective is a London-based arts organisation dedicated to telling the stories from female perspectives that often go untold. The play is adapted by Leesa Gazi and directed by Filiz Ozcan. They are both Joint Artistic Directors of Komola Collective. The play introduces Aleya, a female protagonist, in place of Oliver Twist.
Aleya is played by Ritu Akter. A group of young girls from English and Digital for Girls’ Education (EDGE) Clubs of Tangail and BRAC also performed in the play. The rest of the cast and crew were hired from local theatre groups.
“It is a privilege to play Aleya. I am thankful to British Council for arranging such a great project and allowing me to have such a beautiful experience, working with so many professionals,” says Ritu.
Although the story is set nearly two hundred years later and many thousands of miles away from the original story, the difference in time and place does not take away the harsh reality that the original Oliver had to face. Aleya is a ten-year-old whose mother passes away right after childbirth. Aleya’s struggles of surviving in unforgiving and greedy surroundings is the major plot point of the play. Before finally reuniting with her father, Aleya encounters many harsh sides of the society, including child trafficking and stealing.
The whole team rehearsed in Madhupur, Tangail, where they staged their first show. The play was staged at Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy yesterday.