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Mon, 22 Jul 2019

Northeast Today

Love for Theatre

Love for Theatre
April 30
15:35 2018

March Edition, Theatre, NET Bureau

At a time when women of Northeast were sceptical of taking film or theatre direction as a profession, she took the risk and made Assam proud with her achievements. An alumna of National School of Drama (NSD) Rabijita Gogoi listened to heart and followed her passion for convention and secured life. Sayantani Deb interviews:

Brief Description

A theatre artiste at work, Rabijita Gogoi visits different institutes in India to teach acting. She has worked as visiting faculty in one of the finest acting school in India—‘Actor Prepares’ for approximately two years. Currently, she travels and visits various acting institutes across the nation for teaching or conducting theatre-related workshops. Besides, walking an extra mile for imparting knowledge about theatre acting or directing, she has also participated in the ‘Asia Meets Asia Theatre Festival’ at Tokyo in 2005 as one of the Asian artists of improvised performance. Some of her famous plays include— Memsaheb Prithvi”, “Technicolour Dreams”, “Ok Tata, Bye Bye etc.

Early life

Born and brought in a cosmopolitan town, Diphu, Rabijita considers herself lucky as she got to know about different kind of culture like Bodo, Dimasa, Karbi,Bengali etc.

“Life in Diphu was fantastic, besides interacting with various communities of the state, I grew up seeing the prolific writer Rongmon Teron, who is our neighbour. It becomes encouraging when you get the opportunity to closely follow someone like him, so I can say that he has knowingly or unknowingly been an influence for me,” said Rabijita during a Tete-e-Tete with Northeast Today.

Post completing her 10+2, Rabijita came to Guwahati for her graduation from Handique Girls’ College and that is when she got exposed to the world of theatre.

“I never thought that someday I will join creative field because my parents were from teaching background and so they wanted me to choose an academic career. However after coming to Guwahati, I got exposed to this world when I started watching various theatre performances,” she shared.

“I was very close to late Indra Baniya, at that time he had an institute and I was from his first batch of students. His institute changed me a lot. At first, I was quite introvert and could not express my feelings. However, post joining the institute, I found that you must have to be vocal,” she added.

First Play

Rabijita acted in her first play when she was around 13-year old in a radio play produced by Mahila Samiti, Karbi Anglong.

“I still don’t have any idea when they decided to take me up. It was a small role where I had only two or three lines,” she laughed, adding, “Whatsoever, that was my first experience.”

However, her stage experience happened when she was in Class 10.

“My first play was ‘Jatra’. I wrote and directed the play. It was the beginning,” she mentioned.

NSD Life

After completing her graduation, Rabijita went to National School of Drama, New Delhi where she took specialisation in Design Direction.

For Rabijita working closely with artists like Naseeruddin Shah, Om Puri, Anupam Kher, Meena Gupta was a lifetime experience.

Direction with Passion

When I went to NSD my mind was already set beforehand that I will do specialization in direction, but my teachers were fond of me, so they suggested me to do specialise in acting.

“I said no only because I am in habit of seeing totality. I like to watch various political and social changes and what is happening in their lives, I see the characters so I want to tell my stories to people,” she shared.

Despite knowing the fact that there is no future in theatre she took the challenge, “When I was returning back from NSD, I was completely blank as here there is no role model to look up to. However, after opting for theatre, I went to Delhi saw lots of female directors working there which was an encouraging situation.”

Jirsong Theatre

Established in the year 1995, Jirsong a Karbi word, which means ‘young people’s dormitory was formed by few minded young enthusiast people who wanted to do something in the field of theatre. So, far Rabijita and her team have staged around 50 plays in various languages.

Assam’s Theatre World

Speaking about the theatre world of Assam, she says, “In Assam, there is no financial support from state government.

Government’s support is very much essential because it is not a commercial medium of art. The pure theatre is completely associated with social change, development, economics and politics. Also, there are not proper auditoriums for theatres in the state.”

“Besides, Assam also lacks in theatre, stage or business managers,” she informed, “While directing the play I am the one who manages my own business and is the sweeper of the theatre group.”

Upcoming projects

Currently, Rabijita is running a play titled ‘Bagh’. It is about two women where one woman in Burkha and one in Saree. They take shelter inside an abandoned room during a Hindu-Muslim conflict. Another project which she will start is Antigony, a Greek play which will be adapted in Northeast’s context.

(Inputs from Aditi Mech)

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