June 28, 2022, 9:13 pm

Staff Correspondent

2021-11-08 06:46:55 BdST

Month-long cultural fest marks 50 years of Bangladesh in London

Celebrating the golden jubilee of Bangladesh’s independence, the Bangladeshi diaspora in the UK are holding a month-long ‘Freedom and Independence Theatre Festival’ in London from November 5.

This year the organisers renamed their regular yearly festival ‘A Season of Bangla Drama’ to ‘Freedom and Independence Theatre Festival’ to celebrate 50 years of Bangladesh.

The festival began November 5, in support of Tower Hamlets Council, and it features a wide variety of events including a Bengali heritage walk, film screenings, an international youth writing project, talks and exhibitions.

The Queen Mary University of London has partnered with Tower Hamlets Council to celebrate 50 years of Bangladeshi independence with the festival.

In keeping with the festival’s strong East London identity, the festival’s events are taking place across numerous local venues including Genesis cinema, the Brady Arts Centre, and Queen Mary’s Mile End campus.

The variety of plays will cover topics including the plight of women, the tales of freedom fighters, the journeys of refugees such as the Rohingya and Vietnamese, as well as the power of protest.

As a part of the programmes, an international human rights organisation named ‘Restless Beings’, who work especially closely with genocide victims, and in particular with the Rohingya community, presented a series of three short plays titled ‘The Freedom Anthologies’ making point for the Rohingya community and with the themes of freedom and independence at the Brady Arts Centre on Sunday evening.

The first play focuses on a school setting and on Rohingya identity in the diaspora. The second explores the notion of nature in the expression of freedom. The third play is a powerful short history of South Asia. It highlights the poignancy of freedom and its universality which escapes the Rohingya.

Members of Mohila Ongon at ‘Sunday is Saree Day’ – Collected Photos

On Sunday, Mohila Ongon, an organisation of women, predominantly of the Bangladeshi background, organises an event titled ‘Sunday is Saree Day’ at the Brady Arts Centre, celebrating womanhood through both sarees and the Bangladeshi delicacy, pitha. The event had a saree workshop and a fashion show as well as a drama performed in Sylheti and traditional Bengali music, dance, and poetry recitation.

London Bangla Press Club will host a programme titled ‘Bangladesh War of Independence: Role of Media in the UK and Press Freedom in Bangladesh’ at the Pinter Studio of ArtsOne building in Queen Mary University on November 9.

British Bangladeshi Poetry Collective (BBPC) will present a poetry performance and poetry game session titled ‘Freedom and Independence: People Speak’ at the Pinter Studio of ArtsOne building in Queen Mary on November 11. This platform of poets and poetry lovers focus on multilingual sharing of poetry with a view to expand the British Bengali identity, and explores and celebrates the generational heritage of British Bangladeshi culture in the UK.

East London based theatre company Mukul and Ghetto Tigers will perform a play titled ‘Mujib – The Rebel’ with the themes of the motives and consequences of the assassination of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman at the Pinter Studio on November 12 and 13.

A creative platform named Ayna Arts will perform a play titled ‘Orna (The Cover)’ at the Brady Art Centre on November 13. Set in Bangladesh in modern time, ‘Orna’ explores the issues of abuse and oppression of women, rape and victim-blaming while challenging social taboos, with the dialogues in English and songs in Bangla and Hindi.

Other events include a play titled ‘Sector 12’ by the theatre company Purbanat CIC scheduled for November 14 at the Brady Arts Centre, ‘Mukti’ by Rokeya Project on November 20, ‘Ummsiyah’- an evening showcasing different art forms such as a reading of a newly commissioned script, an extract from Ahmed Massoud’s new play, and dance and poetry from Hawiyya the female Dabke Group on November 21, and ‘Seize the Freedom’ by Message Cultural Group on November 27.

Bishwo Shahityo Kendro UK will stage the play ‘When Madonna was Dying’ at the Brady Arts Centre on November 28. Written by Bulbul Hasan and directed by Syeda Saima Ahmed, ‘When Madonna was Dying’ is the story of the women activists in 1971 in the UK. It is a ‘herstory’– depicting those many known and unknown women who were the forerunners in raising voices for freedom.

Two exhibitions titled ‘Bijoy ’71’ by Ahmed Choudhury and ‘Colours of Bengal’ by Sudip Chakroborthy and Shameem Hossain are taking place at the Brady Arts Centre from November 1 and will continue until the conclusion of ‘Freedom and Independent Theatre Festival’ on November 28.

Tower Hamlets Council has been exploring the connections between the 1971 Independence War of Bangladesh and the local community in the East End of London and is managing and supporting a range of events throughout the year.

The organisers said they are continuing to profile British Bangladeshi theatre as an important way to spotlight key events of 1971, tell untold stories, and reach out to new audiences.

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