2017 has been a busy year for the Anamnagar-based Mandala Theatre. The oldest of the current lot of privately-owned theatres in Kathmandu, Mandala marked its 51st staging with the play Jhyalincha, in November this year. The play marked the theatrical comeback for actor Dayahang Rai, one of the co-founders of the theatre; while another co-founder Rajan Khatawada directed the Nepali adaptation of the classic Greek tragedy Antigone. Along with reaching back to its roots, Mandala has also continued to be a fertile space for up-and-coming artists this year. The theatre provided space for cheeky plays like Ko Ek Chha Chha Ek Chha, featuring mostly novice actors; while also representing the voices of the marginalised (Lati ko Chhoro; Jayamaya Aaphu Matra Lekhapani Aaipugi). Mandala is wrapping up the year with the staging of Chiso Bhanjyang, which opened on Friday, Dec 22.
Set in a far-west village around the time when the Maoist insurgency was at its peak, Chiso Bhanjyang tells the story of a romantic affair between an upper-class girl and a lower-class boy, and how they find themselves at odds with the society. The play, an adaptation of British author Ian McEwan’s meta fiction novel Atonement (2001), marks the debut directorial for actor Sandeep Shrestha, who has been featured in plays like Golden Boy, Aarop, The Laramie Project and Sirumarani, among others. Speaking to the Post director Shrestha said that he was inspired by the novel’s premise and that the play is his attempt to translate the novel’s essence on stage.
“While going about the art of living, we happen to commit mistakes, some of which are irredeemable. The novel Atonement upon which the play is based tells the story of one such incident,” said director Shrestha. “I was touched by the portrayal of the characters and how the author treats the subject with warmth and humanity… Chiso Bhanjyang is my attempt to adapt the story in a Nepali context. Coming from the far-east I have also tried to infuse cultural practices such as Dhannach which is practiced in the region.”Chiso Bhanjyang features actors Anup Neupane, Pooja Lama, Sabina Gopali, Dipika Dhakal, Anuja Adhikari, Roshan Subedi and Baaraat Limbu, among others. Chiso Bhanjyang is currently being staged every day (except for Mondays) at 4:45 pm, and will run through Jan 14, 2018.