Theatre is a living performing art form, almost as old as civilization itself.
When there was no language on the lips of cavemen and women, they used to perform all of their worldly dealings through mimetic expressions. If we trace the history of acting, it dates back to some 5000 years in ancient Egypt. It was then a part of rituals which were enacted underneath the pyramids in front of the mummies of dead kings. In those days, mostly the Abydos Passion Play used to be enacted. The play used to depict the myth of Osiris, mythological father of the God Horus. The theme was the slaying of Osiris by his brother Seth. The plays used to deal mostly with gods and goddesses.
After that, the world experienced the Golden period of acting in ancient Greece. The innovations and concepts of Tragedy, Comedy, Tragi-comedy, Musical Drama, Costumes and Mask, Theater Architecture, Auditorium and Audience, Aristotle's Poetic (the concept of theatre) came into being during this period. Great playwrights like Sophocles, Aeschylus, Euripides and Aristophanes contributed to a golden period of theatre. The great actor, 'Thespis' lived during the period whose name inspired the term 'thespian'. Then came the Roman Theatre and Indian Renaissance, the English theatre, Spanish theatre, French theatre, Russian theatre, Chinese theatre, theatre in the Middle East, and so forth. Many great playwrights, actors, theatre managers and directors in different countries of the world emerged during different periods in history. Famed playwrights like Shakespeare, Chekov, Ibsen and others became household names all over the world. Indian theatre, which has existed for 1800-2000 years, which housed talents such as Kalidasa, Shurakh and Vasa, also received recognition as a formidable performing art form.
Theatre is a form of art which encompasses several forms of art like acting, dance mime, music, theatre-architecture and several other artistic forms. It is often said that a person involved in theatre learns everything, from the mundane requirements of life to different forms of art and culture.
Bangladesh is marching ahead with equal stride in the international arena of theatre practices. Our country's folk form of theatre practice such as jatra, dov-jatra, puthi-path, kabigan and other narrative acting art forms are almost 1800 years old. After Bangladesh’s independence, theatre practices all over the country gained momentum with varied kinds of theatrical endeavours.
Theatre in Bangladesh embraces almost all the western and eastern playwrights of repute including the country’s very own. Theatre is not only practiced as a means of entertainment but also as a medium of education. Here, theatre speaks the truth against any and all kinds of social evils and wrong-doings. At present, there are about 300 practicing theatre groups in the country.
However, our theatre practices are yet to be fully professional, for which we need patronization from the state, corporate bodies and foundations. Long live theatre.
Ataur Rahman is an actor, director, writer and a recipient of the Ekushey Padak