20 January 1948 |
|Alma mater||National School of Drama|
|Occupation||playwright, theatre director
Founder Chorus Repertory Theatre, 1976
|Awards||Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in Direction, 1987|
Ratan Thiyam (born 20 January 1948) is an Indian playwright and theatre director, and the winner of Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1987, one of leading figures of the "theatre of roots" movement in Indian theatre, which started in the 1970s. Also known as Thiyam Nemai, Ratan Thiyam is known for writing and staging plays that use ancient Indian theatre traditions and forms in a contemporary context. A former painter, and proficient in direction, design, script and music, Thiyam is often considered one of leading contemporary theatre gurus.
Presently he is working as Chairperson of prestigious National School of Drama. He had also worked as Vice-Chairman of Sangeet Natak Akademi before joining NSD. He has also worked as Director of National School of Drama from 1987 to 1989. He is also the founder-director of 'Chorus Repertory Theatre', formed on the outskirts of Imphal, Manipur in 1976. He was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in Direction in 1987, given by Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama, and the Padma Shri given by Government of India in 1989. He was awarded the 2012 Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship, the highest honour in the performing arts conferred by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama. In the year 2013, Ratan Thiyam receives honorary D.lit from Assam University, Silchar.
Early life and education
His production of Ajneya's Uttar Priyadarshi in Manipuri was staged at the 1st Bharat Rang Mahotsav (BRM), the annual theatre festival of National School of Drama (NSD), Delhi in 1999., his presentation of Kalidasa's epic poem Ritusamharam was closing production of 4th BRM in 2002., subsequently the 10th BRM in 2008, which also marked the golden jubilee of NSD, opened at Kamani Auditorium, New Delhi, with a performance was "Prologue", the first part of his "Manipur Trilogy", when all past alumni has gathered for the festival. The 12th BRM in January 2010 featured Ratan Thiyam's "When we Dead Awaken".
The plays of Ratan Thiyam
His works profess a deep concern for social welfare and spiritual yearnings in the midst of the political chaos in the modern world. His plays infuse rationalised and multifaceted analysis of myriad perspectives. Using ingenious theatrical stagecraft, his plays are tinged with literary beauty and meaning. Most of Ratan Thiyam's plays are thematically Indianised and are profound plays with universal appeal.
His works are strongly influenced by Natya Sastra, an Indian theatre style propounded by Bharata during the second century B.C., as also ancient Greek drama, and the Noh theatre of Japan. His approach to theatre has been shaped by years of study under the tutelage of several major exponents of the traditional Manipuri performing arts. Thiyam is also known for his use of traditional martial arts, of Thang-Ta in his plays, such as in Urubhangam (Broken Thigh), of Sanskrit playwright Bhāsa itself based on an episode from epic, the Mahabharata, which along with Chakravyuh (Amry Formation) is considered one of his finest works. In 1986, he adapted Jean Anouilh's "Antigone" as Lengshonnei, a comment on the personal behaviour of politicians, failing to handle political situation in the state. Uttar Priyadarshi (The Final Beatitude), an adaptation of Hindi verse play by playwright and poet Agyeya in 1996, based on a story of redemption of King Ashoka, a man's struggle against his own inner dark side and a plea for peace, knowing its impact on future generation. The play has since travelled to many parts of the South Asia, Australia and the US.
His play Andha Yug (The Blind Age), known for creating an intense and intimate experience, around the epochal theme, was famously staged in an open-air performance, at Tonga, Japan, on 5 August 1994, a day before the forty-ninth anniversary of Atomic Holocaust in Hiroshima.
His major plays include Ritusamharam: The work seeks solace and sanity amidst chaos and violence of today's world.
List of Plays
- Karanabharam (1979) (Karna-bhara: Karna's burden by Sanskrit playwright Bhasa)
- Imphal Imphal (1982)
- Chakravyuha (1984) (Army Formation)
- Lengshonnei (1986) (An adaptation of Jean Anouilh's Antigone)
- Uttar Priyadarshi (The Final Beatitude, by Hindi playwright Agyeya) (1996)
- Chinglon Mapan Tampak Ama (Nine Hills One Valley)
- Ritusamharam (Ritusamharam by Sanskrit playwright Kalidasa)
- Andha Yug (The Blind Age, by Hindi playwright Dharamvir Bharati)
- Wahoudok (Prologue)
- Ashibagee Eshei (based on When We Dead Awaken, by Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen) (2008)
- The King of Dark Chamber (Raja, 2012), based on a play Raja (1910) by Rabindranath Tagore.
- 1984: Indo-Greek Friendship Award, 1984 (Greece)
- 1987: Sangeet Natak Akademi Award
- 1987: Fringe Firsts Award, from Edinburgh International Festival 
- 1989: Padma Shri
- 1990: Diploma of Cervantino International Festival, (Mexico)
- 2005: Kalidas Samman
- 2008: John D. Rockefeller Award
- 2011: Bharat Muni Samman
- 2012: Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship (Akademi Ratna)
- 2013: Bhupen Hazarika Foundation Award
In popular culture
'Some Roots Grow Upwards' a 2003 documentary by Kavita Joshi and Malati Rao, was based on the life and work of Ratan Thiyam, especially his political ideologies, and his use of theatre as medium of political protest.
- Cody, p. 1348
- Thiyam Nemai
- Theater in Review – 'Nine Hills One Valley' by Jason Zinoman, New York Times, 14 October 2006.
- The world's a stage: Theatredoyen Ratan Thiyam on how he conquers space The Hindu, 30 December 2008.
- NSD Graduates
- "All the world's classics, on a stage". The Indian Express. 18 March 1999.
- Kavita Nagpal (16 April 2002). "BHARAT RANG MAHOTSAV : A RETROSPECTIVE". Press Information Bureau (Govt. of India).
- National School of Drama celebrates golden jubilee in style The Economic Times, 12 January 2008.
- Manisha Jha (27 December 2007). "Celebrating 50 years of NSD". Chennai, India: The Hindu.
- "The Graduates". Indian Express. 28 December 2007. Retrieved 2 April 2010.
- Anima, P. (2 January 2010). "Talking theatre". Chennai, India: The Hindu.
- India – Ratan Thiyam The World Encyclopedia of Contemporary Theatre: Asia/Pacific, by Don Rubin. Published by Taylor & Francis, 2001. ISBN 0-415-26087-6. Page 146.
- Review: Uttarpriyadarshi by Renee Renouf, ballet magazine, December 2000,
- Margo Jefferson (27 October 2000). "Next Wave Festival Review; In Stirring Ritual Steps, Past and Present Unfold". New York Times.
- Dharwadker, p. 196
- Profile at manipuronline
- Dharwadker, p. 105
- Asia society
- "Real art attacks the wrong system" and director-playwright Ratan Thiyam's plays bear testimony to his words The Hindu, 30 January 2005
- Ratan Thiyam at Fordham University
- Bharatrangmohotsav (theater Festival) 2008, National School of Drama, New Delhi, India.
- Delhi Ibsen Festival : When We Dead Awaken – Play
- Another play by Ratan Thiyam, another astonishing splash. The Telegraph, 6 March 2009.
- "The National School of Drama's Bharat Rang Mahotsav... Featuring 96 productions...". MumbaiTheatreGuide.com. 12 January 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2013.
- "SNA: List of Akademi Awardees". Sangeet Natak Akademi Official website.
- which he returned in July 2001
- "Padma Awards". Ministry of Communications and Information Technology.
- "Ratan Thiyam Received Bharat Muni Samman". odisha.360.batoi.com. 2011. Retrieved 28 December 2012. "Ratan Thiyam, the doyen of theatre was awarded Bharat Muni Samman for the year 2011"
- "Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowships and Akademi Awards 2012". Press Information Bureau, Govt. of India. Retrieved 28 May 2012.
- "Ratan Thiyam – the doyen of Indian theatre". India-north-east.com. Retrieved 29 November 2013.
- Open Frame 2003– August 21–27 2003 India Habitat Centre, New Delhi.
- Aparna Bhargava Dharwadker (2005). Theatres of independence: drama, theory, and urban performance in India since 1947. University of Iowa Press. ISBN 0-87745-961-4.
- Gabrielle H. Cody; Evert Sprinchorn (2007). The Columbia encyclopedia of modern drama, Volume 2. Columbia University Press. ISBN 0-231-14424-5.
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