Reviving Tharu glory with Hitwa
Oct 4, 2018-
Hitwa, a dramatic adaptation of the classic Tharu folktale Hitwako Katha, is currently being staged at Tikapur in Kailali district. Adapted and directed by Sushil Chaudhary, the play is being staged in coordination with the Bardiya-based theatre group Saidan Natya Samuha and the Kathmandu-based Shilpee Theatre.
Hitwa (which translates to ‘the oppressed’) brings to stage a story about how a community representing the lower rungs of society will one day embolden themselves and overthrow the ‘monstrous system’ that oppresses them. In director Chaudhary’s adaptation, the play retains the original flavour of the short story, owing to the use of traditional Tharu costumes, dance, music and rituals--all of which culminate to make for a slice of life tragedy.
At the centre of the play is a young, underprivileged character—the titular Hitwa—who has to face bullies and derisions from his playmates. Early on in the play, Hitwa and his friends go to hunt, a traditional Tharu tradition; clever Hitwa gets his kill earlier than his friends, but his friends unjustly take it away from him after a spat. Naturally Hitwa is shaken, but also determined. The play then follows Hitwa’s journey and how he ultimately avenges himself.
Speaking to the Post, director Chaudhary said that he chose to adapt the play because it is rich in Tharu symbolism and culture. “I am not doing something new but am trying to continue our age-old practice of staging folk stories, which is on the wane,” Chaudhary said. “This is our attempt at reviving lost glory.”
Though not without some shortcomings--especially regarding the lapses in the adaptation from the original--the play, however, retains the essence of the original, in that it soundly translates the pathos of the underprivileged Tharu community. Stepping out of the theatre, one becomes hopeful that the staging will act as a springboard for other dramatic adaptations of the rich canon of Tharu literature.
Published: 04-10-2018 08:15