Shuvashis Sinha is an accomplished writer, playwright and the founding president of Monipuri Theatre. He recently made his debut as a director in mainstream theatre in Hritmoncho, a new repertory team in Dhaka. The young artiste shares his views on theatre, philosophy and more with The Daily Star.
Shuvashis grew up in Ghoramara, a village in Moulvibazar, Sylhet that stands on the bank of Dholai River. The village traditionally is very strong in cultural practices. According to him, practices like Jatrapala and Padabali are a part of the regular features of their evening prayers. He takes inspiration from the harmony and rhymes of the padabali kirtan, the melodramatic style of jatrapala, ramleela and more. He began writing for theatre with Megh Brishty Rod, a Bangla play, back in 1996. Though the road was not easy, he successfully set up the Monipuri theatre with the help of his family and the locals. Later, he studied Drama and Dramatics at Jahangirnagar University.
Shuvashis believes that theatre practice in Bangladesh has extensive potential. Many groups are practicing interesting experimental works as well. Theatre is a space of diligence, but with the current structure, it is difficult for an actor to concentrate only on theatre. Many actors practice theatre out of passion, but must also keep a steady paying job. “It is difficult to manage a livelihood by working only in theatre. Often we spend money from our own pockets,” says Shuvashis. “The state must realise that theatre is our cultural wealth.” He firmly believes that with the help from the state, it will be possible to practice professional theatre in Bangladesh.
Shuvashis likes to experiment in terms of design by merging idiom and melodrama that is used in folk and urban performance arts. He practices script-writing in Bishnupriya Manipuri and Bangla. Bangladesh has a distinct character of theatrical performance ingrained in its culture, so Shuvashis feels thatthe old forms need to be practiced. He wants to practice the forms of Padabali and Jatra in modern performances. “That way the young actor will get familiar with our forms,” he says. He also thinks that preservation of local forms of performance is absolutely necessary.
Young talents like Shuvashis provide a much needed push for the theatre scene in Bangladesh. Their spirit and fresh ideas will help revive quality performances on stage.