Shilpee’s relief efforts
Jun 6, 2015-
Two weeks after the Great Earthquake of April 25, Shilpee Theatre, Battisputali, started conducting various fund-raising programmes at its Gothale Theatre hall. The theatre has hosted poetry readings, film screenings and book fairs. On Saturday, the theatre also held a book-exchange programme. The Post’s Anup Ojha caught up with Ghimire Yubraj, the artistic director of Shilpee Theatre, and talked to him about the theatre’s relief programmes and how the theatre fraternity is planning to bounce back. Excerpts:
What were you doing when the Great Quake hit?
We were conducting rehearsals at Gothale Theatre for our upcoming drama Yasodhara, written by Sharada Subba. All of a sudden everything started to shake, so we all exited the theatre and gathered in the open space outside.
What were you worried about the most?
I was worried that our newly built Gothale Theatre might not survive the quake. For the artists at Shilpee, having our own theatre hall was like a dream come true. We put a lot of work into building it. Luckily, the hall did not suffer major damages. In fact, after the quake, we were thinking about resuming rehearsals because we didn’t know how destructive the quake had been. But then we got news about Dharahara’s collapsing, and we heard that scores of people had died in the Valley. That’s when I started to panic. I started worrying about how--because of the circumstances we were in now--we were going to come up with the rent for our leased land. I also started thinking about how we could continue performing and about what role we as theatre artists would have to play in this time of crisis.
What happened next?
People from the neighbouring tole came into our premises to take shelter. In the evening, they even slept in our open space. All the people camped there shared food with one another. I had never witnessed such a spirit of togetherness. Everyone was helping everyone else.
How has the quake affected theatre artists?
We have been performing many dramas together with Cello Theatre. They are an integral part of our theatre group, and all the members are from Kavrepalanchok. None of their houses escaped unscathed. Many other theatre artists’ houses are also badly damaged. We are helping them rebuild their houses.
What fundraising programmes have you been involved in?
We were supposed to have held our annual poetry recitation programme, Mukta Anuvuti, on the day after the Great Earthquake. We postponed the event for two weeks later. We wanted to raise funds from the show. We were worried about the turnout, but many people showed up for the recitation. Then, on May 30, we organised another programme, Bhukampa Pidit Ko Lagi Paropakari Kabitabachan, at the same venue. At that event, we featured Rabindra Mishra and Sharada Sharma. We also screened films in Tundikhel and at our theatre. Besides raising money with which we could buy relief supplies, we were also hoping that the programmes would help people inch towards normalcy.
Can you tell us about where you have distributed relief material and how you are keeping track of where the money is going?
From our programmes we were able to raise Rs 300,000. Then we went to Baluwapatti VDC in Kavre and distributed 30 kg rice, one litre oil and one packet salt each to 184 houses. All the houses had been completely destroyed by the quake and the people there desperately needed help. We have kept a record of the money we have spent.
We heard that the Shilpee Theatre organised a book exchange programme on Saturday. How did it go?
A sizeable number of people came here to sell books at the fair. The money raised will be used to help quake victims. We also held a book fair, during which we had a poetry recitation programme, screened a film and hosted a talk show, Lato Sambad, with Upendra Subba and four panellists.
What will Shilpee be focusing on next?
We will soon be leaving for Kavre, Sindhupalchok and Sindhuli, where we will conduct awareness programmes. These areas are vulnerable to girl trafficking. We also want to do shows where we spread awareness about how girls and children need to protect themselves from sexual abuse when living under tents with groups of other people.
We are also working on a drama based on Upendra Subba’s story Dharma. It’s a political satire.
Published: 07-06-2015 08:15