Kalakshetra Manipur

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Kalakshetra Manipur, is an Indian theatre group situated in Manipur It was established on 19 July 1969 with Heisnam Kanhailal as founder director and it has been registered under Societies' Registration Act XXI of 1860 with its No. 1149 of 1972.


A scene from the play Pebet

The main objective: To study, revive and project the culture of Manipur through the art of theatre and to set highest standards of performance to match not only the best in India but the world theatre scene.

As Kalakshetra believed in the notion of a workshop that is a laboratory or research theatre rather than a production company it began its experiment in a continuous process of 'renewal of ancestral tradition' for a contemporary cultural expression as they are all the progeny of an ethno - social tradition of Manipur. The artists of the group endeavored to learn afresh the native lore traveling throughout the nook and corner of Manipur and strengthened their creative will. They created the performances for the 'work-in-progress' shows rather than 'Public Theatre'-a finished production for public exhibition.

Besides, the group launched cultural expedition in organizing theatre events with the non-actors in three different socio - cultural contexts. They were: (i)performance of NUPI LAN (Women's war of Manipur, 1939)in which market women around one hundred from women's market of Imphal town took the active participation in December, 1978 as players, (ii)At Umathel, a sleepy village in the remote corner of southern Manipur SANJENNAHA (cowherd) was performed by the villagers themselves in December, 1979, and (iii)Introduced theatre in the tribal area of Paite community of Churachandpur district with the production of THANGHOU LEH LIANDOU performed by tribal youths in March, 1980.

Along with the training and research programmes the group created remarkable performances that stood out as milestone of an originally alternate theatre.

Heisnam Kanhailal was awarded the Padma Shri award by Government of India in 2004 for his work.[1]

Major Production[edit]

Play Playwright Director Year
TamnaLai(Haunting spirit) Heisnam Kanhailal Heisnam Kanhailal 1972
Kabui-Keioiba(Half man half Tiger) " " 1973
Imphal`73 Improvisation on Shri Biren's poem H.Kanhailal 1973
Khomdon Meiroubi(the last maiden) W.Kamni H.Kanhailal 1973
Pebet Improvisation on the folktale Pebet H.Kanhailal 1975
Laigi Machasinga(with the children of God) Improvisation on the essay of Mao Naga, a major tribal group, of L.Samarendra H.Kanhailal 1978
Mrityu Swar H.Kanhailal H.Kanhailal 1985
Memoirs of Africa Improvisation on the poem by L.Samarendra H.Kanhailal 1986
Rashomon Film script of Akira Kurosawa dramatized and directed by H.Kanhailal 1987
Migi Sharang(Human Cage) H.Kanhailal H.Kanhailal 1991
Hijan Harao Based on the folk poem dramatized and directed by H.Tomba 1995
Karna H.Kanhailal H.Kanhailal 1997
Lajja Based on the Taslima Nasrin's novel dramatized and directed by H.Kanhailal 1997
Makokto Pokhaikhi(The head blasted) H.Tomba H.Tomba 1999
Draupadi dramatized from the story of Mahasweta Devi l H.Kanhailal 2000
Kshudito Pashan(Hungry stone) dramatized from the story of Tagore by H.Kanhailal H.Tomba 2003
Kangkhathang(The unused sword) H.Tomba H.Tomba 2005
Sati Dr.H.S.Shivprakash H.Tomba 2005
Dakhgar Rabindranath Tagore H.Kanhailal 2006
Samnadraba Mami Ensemble H.Tomba 2009
The Hungry Stones Rabindranath Tagore H. Tomba 2011

Besides the above, short improvisations and performances were created as part of the process of training and research. The group toured throughout India for the last 25 years for staging its shows. In abroad too like Japan, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt.

At Cairo in 1991 at the International Festival for Experimental Theatre Sabitri Heisnam won the Best Actress Award of the panel of critics in her performance in Migi Sharang(Human Cage). The group worked with different ethnic groups from September, 2005 to August, 2006 and produced two multi-lingual plays, Sati and Dakhgar, as directed by H.Tomba and H.Kanhailal respectively.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Padma Awards". Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. Archived from the original on 29 April 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  • Booklet "PROFILE, Kalakshetra Manipur,Imphal, India," published by Kalakshetra Manipur
  • The Theater of Kanhailal (Pebet & Memoirs of Africa), Rustom Bharucha, Seagull Books 1992
  • "Theater in Manipur Today," Seagull Theater Quarterly, Issue 14/15, June/Sept 1997

External links[edit]