A journey of 20 hours from Goa to Ireland and back and the Kala Academy Repertory Theatre Company, Rangmell was on cloud nine on arrival. After a year long struggle with passports and visa, the company had finally made it to an international stage to perform two plays by Rabindranath Tagore (in English.) A group of 20 cast and crew for the shows is not a small number to travel abroad and the Kala Academy is the first Indian theatre group to do it. “We always hoped to have an international stage performance. Last year in February, Dr Savio Sequeira from Dublin witnessed our performance on
the same plays. He was very enthusiastic to take the shows t Dublin and agreed to be the host for the visas. In the next few months we performed Rabindranath Tagore’s plays in Uttarkand and Udaipur. To travel abroad, one requires passport and visas, unfortunately, most of the cast and crew didn’t have passports and had to apply for it. We had to wait till the passports were issued and then apply for the visas. The expenditure for a group of 20 travelling to Ireland is not a small amount; we gave an application to the Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR) and I personally approached them with the DVD of the performance. We were sanctioned the expenditure amount for travelling and then we were held back because of the weather report, it was too hilly for travelling,” says Afsar Hussain, Chief of the Repertory company, Rangmell.
Rangmell is made up of 15 professional artists who travel for shows to different parts of Goa, India and now abroad. “We were very hopeful of traveling to Ireland this year. We wanted to for a long time, but you also require a host for the visas and that too, a large number of visas. Dr Savio Sequeira was very supportive about our cast and crew and he chalked out a very detailed itinerary for the group when we arrived in Ireland. We arrived on April 16 and we had three days of just sightseeing to get accustomed to the place and the climate. After that, it was thorough rehearsals for the shows. We had four new cast members included in the group for the performance, musicians and even a carpenter. Some of the crew had not even sat in a train! It was a great learning experience traveling to a new country both culturally and professionally,” says Afsar.
Rangmell performed to sold out shows at the Samuel Beckett Theatre, Trinity College Dublin. They had a 30 minutes recital of traditional Indian music before the show. They performed four shows of ‘The Post Office’ and three shows of ‘Red Oleanders’. “It was amazing to know that Ireland has 50 professional theatre groups including a Gay Theatre Festival. And the entire working of the theater is very systematic. When a technician is working to set up the stage, the actors are not allowed to enter the theatre, they have to wait either in the green room or leave the premises. Carpenters are not allowed to use nails but only screws,” says Afsar with surprise.
Rangmell visited different places and were invited even by the Lord Mayor and Ambassador of India in Ireland. “It was a great honor for Goan artists to represent India in the Lord Mayor’s Palace. We even visited Stephen Green garden and saw the statue of Rabindranath Tagore in Ireland. I also visited the Wax museum and art galleries in Dublin. I found the people to be very decent and disciplined. They are very open-minded and they enjoy themselves to the fullest on the weekends but on Monday, they are very serious about their work.”
Speaking about the first of sorts, Afsar gladly says, “Rangmell is the first Indian theatre group that had an international performance. It is the only theatre group in India that performs in four languages, English, Hindi, Konkani and Marathi. We have performed three plays in three different languages at the same venue within a gap of ten minutes. Rangmell has four new productions every year.”