Natrang celebrated its 37th foundation day here this evening with the presentation of John Millington Synge’s popular play ‘Riders to the Sea’ under the direction of Neeraj Kant at Natrang Studio Theatre, Jammu. In last 36 years through the selfless contribution of thousands of its associates, Natrang has brought the J&K theatre to the National and International limelight and its highly acclaimed plays vibrated the theatre world and proudly traveled the whole length and breadth of the country and also crossed the boundaries of India as well and won appreciation in Russia, Germany, U.K., Singapore, Turkey, Hungary, Poland, and UAE and thus established a globally acknowledged brand called NATRANG. This organization has been highly instrumental in giving a new cultural and intellectual identity to this part of the country and revolutionized the cultural life of the place through its out of the world initiatives.
Natrang was established on 15th May, 1983 with the presentation of two unique short plays Neeli Jheel’ and ‘Nanhen Kandhey Pair’ directed by Balwant Thakur at Abhinav Theatre Jammu. The actors who featured in first performance of Natrang included Vijay Atri, Aasha Arora, Arvind Anand, Mohan Singh, Prabodh Jamwal and Arun Sharma. In 36 years, the plays which vibrated the theatre scene of the country included ‘Bawa Jitto’ ‘Ghumayee’ ‘Mahabhoj’ ‘Aap Hamare Hain Kaun’ ‘Chauraha’ ‘Poster’ ‘Mere Hisse Ki Dhoop Kahan Hai’ ‘Sainyan Bhaye Kotwal’ ‘Raktbeej’ ‘Comedy of Terrors’ ‘Suno Eh Kahani’ ‘Kanjoos’ ‘Holi’ ‘Mind Games’ ‘Richard III’ ‘Choona hai Aasmaan’ and ‘Kaun Nachaye Naach’ etc. Natrang has produced over one thousand actors and many have made their mark in films and TV world as well. Prominent among them include Bhanu Goswami, Anjali Abrol, Sunil Palwal, Harish Khanna, Neelu Dogra, Tajasvi Sharma, Ekta Kaul, Mansi Sharma, Vikram Sharma, Mridul Suri, Nariender Sachchar, Arvind Anand, Mohit Sharma, Pankush Verma, Ashok Verma, (Vrinda Gujral and Satyam Mehra, Child Artists). In addition to having Six pass-outs of National School of Drama and Seven Masters in Dramatics, Natrang sent four for International studies which included Harish Khanna (London School of Acting and Speech), Aeishesh Nijhawan (London International School of performing Arts) Aarushi Thakur (University of Leister, UK & Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, London) and Vikram Sharma (Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute, Manhattan, New York USA). Out of 6500 shows by Natrang in last thirty six years, the credit of maximum number of participation is shared by Neeraj Kant, Anil Tickoo, Suresh Kumar, Arvind Anand, Sanjeev Gupta, Vikrant Sharma, Sumeet Sharma, Pankaj Sharma, Juhi Singh, Sat Salarbi, Vijay Bhat, Dimple Sharma, Mohit Sharma, Mohd. Yaseen, Rahul Singh, Gaurav Jamwal, Subhash Jamwal, Gauri Thakur and Sajra Qadir and in these years over thirty five actors of Natrang brought National/ International honors and acclaims. From National scholarships to International fellowships, these recognition gave a distinct identity and pride to Jammu theatre. Prominent honors included International fellowships to Balwant Thakur (Ford Foundation USA) Harish Khanna (British Council UK) Ashish Nijhawan (Inlaks, USA), National Awards to Balwant Thakur (Padamshree, Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, Sanskriti Award, National Senior Fellowship, Gurushree Samaan, Abhinayak Samaan, World Theatre day Honor) Sanjeev Gupta, Sumeet Sharma, Ashish Nijhawan, Vikrant Sharma (Sangeet Natak Akademi’s Yuva Bismalla Khan Award) Deepika B. Thakur (National Fellowship) Anil Tickoo (Sangeet Natak Akademi Award & National Fellowship) Neeraj Kant (National Fellowship) Mohd Yaseen, Rahul Singh, Sajra Qadir, Gopi Sharma, Kritika Bhau, Rythm Misher, Asma Gul (National Scholarships). Amongst others, Suraj Singh, (Music) Brij Mohan (Music) Suraj Ganjoo (Lights) Ankush Lakhnotra (Lights) Chander Shekhar (Design) contributed immensely to the growth of Natrang. In the year 2016, Natrang brought yet another laurels for the State of Jammu & Kashmir by presenting its rich folk culture at London where these performances were cherished by more than 50000 audience. Director Natrang, Balwant Thakur expressed that Natrang has a dream for Jammu and a mission to establish this place as an International destination of theatre. The Institution is all set to create an International level campus in Jammu housing an auditorium, two Studio Theatres, theatre residences, resource centre and a an exclusive centre for children. On the occasion he thanked all those who contributed to the making of this historic revolutionary creative journey called Natrang and hoped that all admirers and patrons of Natrang will continue to shower their blessings.
The play ‘Riders to the Sea’ was set on an island off the coast of Ireland, begins with Nora bringing in a small bundle with her and telling Cathleen that these may be the clothes of their brother Michael. The young priest told her a body of a drowned man was found at Donegal, and the body might be Michael’s. The sisters are scared to open the bundle of clothes because they do not want their mother, Maurya, to know: Michael has been missing for a week and the family had already lost five men to the sea. Maurya is prepared for the funeral for Michael, with whiteboards for his coffin ready at the cottage. Maurya, Nora, and Cathleen discuss the last son, Bartley, who is also planning to go the sea to sell the family horses so they could get some money. Nora and Cathleen are convinced that Bartley should go to the fair at Galway to sell the animals, Maurya tries to stop him but paying no heed, Bartley changes his clothes, asks his sisters to take care of the sheep, and leaves without receiving any blessings from his mother. Maurya’s laments are interrupted when islanders bring the body of Bartley into the cottage and tell the women that the grey pony knocked Bartley into the sea, where he drowned. Maurya gets on her knees near Bartley’s body and sprinkles holy water on him. She finally resigns herself to her fate as she claims that she will finally sleep at night because she no longer has anyone to worry about: all the men of her family have died to the sea. The whiteboards that were supposed to be used for Michael’s coffin will now be used to bury Bartley. Maurya prays that the souls of her husband, her husband’s father, and four sons may rest in peace
The soulful acting of Meenakshi Bhagat and Vrinda Sharma elevated the overall impact of the performance, they were equally supported by Manoj Lalotra, Arti Devi, Simran, Kananpreet Kaur, Udit Sagar and Umang Sharma. The Lights were operated by Neeraj Kant while Sushant Singh Charak scored the Music. The show was coordinated by Sumeet Sharma, Anil Tickoo and Mohd. Yaseen.