Theatre Folks, Oxford presents an invited show of one act play ‘The Distant Near’ for the first time in Oxford after being featured in Edinburgh Fringe and Brady Arts centre, London. This play features prominent theatre actor, director and writer Mamunur Rashid from Bangladesh.
Bangla Theatre Production-5
The Distant Near
Play: Shahidul Mamun
Design and Direction: Faiz Jahir
Music : Amit Mallik
Props : Md Azad
Time : 7:30pm (Door opens at 7 pm)
Tickets: £3 (Pay at the door)
[Viewer’s Age Restriction 12]
This year marks the 150th birth anniversary of Bengal’s greatest poet Rabindranath Tagore. This year we also stand at the threshold of marking two centuries of Shakespeare and his theatre on Bengali stage. Spread throughout Rabindranath’s writings, especially in his plays and novels, we find a remarkable correspondence of the two great minds of the east and the west. Rabindranath, the greatest figure of the nineteenth century Bengal Renaissance, came to appreciate Shakespeare in a lifelong fascination and he admitted this influence in his own writings, as well as in a sonnet where he unreservedly expresses his joy and adulation in appreciation of England’s greatest poet.
“The Distant Near” is an attempt to locate Shakespeare through the eyes of Rabindranath who, although separated by centuries across two different cultures, sing the grandeur of man’s struggle against great odds of life. The performance shall highlight Rabindranath’s creative appreciation of Shakespeare in a combination of selection of Shakespearean theatre, and Rabindranath’s own plays, songs, and poetry.
The performance will be presented by Mamunur Rashid, eminent playwright and actor working in Bangladesh. Mamunur had been writing for theatre for the last four decades and is considered one of the handful playwrights who helped shape the unique voice of modern Bangladeshi theater. His lifelong connection with the Shakespearean theatre shall provide us a unique experience of approaching Shakespeare through a contemporary mind.
The performance has been designed by Faiz Zahir –foremost among the young and original voices in today’s Bangladeshi theatre. Shahidul Mamun, the scriptwriter of the play has done a number of translations from English to Bengali including Shakespeare, Friel, and Ibsen.
Mamunur Rashid– a living legend; a versatile Bangladeshi playwright, actor, director, novelist, columnist and theater and social activist, was born on 29 February 1948 in a little village in his maternal home, Paikora under Kalhati thana, Tangail. He is the first of nine siblings, born to, Harunur Rashid Khan a retired Post Master.
He spent his childhood in small villages where he got inspired by different folklore and Jatra (a traditional form of South Asian theatre) which ultimately contributed to his versatility.
The heinous and suppressive act of the Pakistani government in 1971 led to Mamunur’s participation in the freedom movement of Bangladesh. This is when he also actively worked with the Liberation Radio (Swadhin Bangla Betar Kendro) in Kolkata.
Coming back to the freed country, in 1972 he founded the theatre group Arannyak Nattya Dal which has become an important platform and mouth piece for expressing the class-struggle, rights of the minorities and indigenous citizens of Bangladesh.
In the early 80’s he started an extensive folk-based theatre organization for rural and underprivileged population in the remote areas of the country – Mukta Natak (Open Theatre). As a part of organizing these activities, he traveled extensively throughout the country.
Mamunur has written and directed over twenty stage plays for different theatre groups in Bangladesh, India, Hong Kong, and South Korea. Mamunur has also acted, directed and written numerous television dramas and serials.
Mamunur Rashid is a social reformist whose plays concern the lives of the common people, their struggles and aspirations, and their exploitation by the rich and privileged class. His political views of Marxist ideology come alive into his work. Among contemporary playwrights, Mamunur Rashid has proved to be the most socially conscious. His work has been translated into several languages including German, Mandarin, English.
Mamunur has received numerous national and international awards and recognition for his work.
He refused the country’s one of the prestigious recognition for literary work, the Bangla Academy Award as a protest against the then military autocratic regime.