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Aarohan Theater Group and Nepali Theater

Updated on December 13, 2019
Bagh Bhairav, enacting deity on stage
Bagh Bhairav, enacting deity on stage | Source
Muna Madan by Laxmi Prasad Devkota, directed by Sunil Pokharel, produced by Aarohan-Gurukul
Muna Madan by Laxmi Prasad Devkota, directed by Sunil Pokharel, produced by Aarohan-Gurukul | Source
Dr. Knock by Jules, Romains, directed by Sunil Pokharel, produced by Aarohan-Gurukul
Dr. Knock by Jules, Romains, directed by Sunil Pokharel, produced by Aarohan-Gurukul | Source

Aarohan-Gurukul's Street Theater and Forum Theater

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Aarohan-Gurukul's Expertise

Street Theater

Vsevolod Emilevich Meyerhold, a Russian theater artist, is believed to have first introduced street theater in 1917, to mark the first anniversary of October Revolution. Street theater emerged in Nepal in the 1980s, during the height of monarchical rule. Ashesh Malla, Artistic Director of Sarvanam, a theater group in Nepal, is credited for the street theater in Nepal. Plays performed on the street are called street plays. Street plays are generally about social and political issues, and performed for raising awareness more than the aesthetics. Street plays by Aarohan-Gurukul promote social justice, democracy and pluralism. The street plays cover issues such as: HIV/AIDS, leprosy, sanitation, environment and population, community forestry, integrated community development, education, etc.

Community Theater

Aarohan-Gurukul believes in theater for education and social change. Community Theater is one of the ventures of Aarohan-Gurukul. Community Theater is Nepali version of Augusto Boal’s Forum Theater. In Forum theater, the viewers turn into actors. In the beginning, the actors present the intended problem. As the problem is highlighted, the actors ask the audience how they want the problem to be solved. Then the viewers either take to the stage or come up with a solution, which instantly is enacted by the actors. Community Theater is an effective measure to explore issues and problems faced by grass root level of the society.

Radio Drama, TV Series, Documentary and Films

Aarohan Theater Group has produced 15 TV series for Nepal Television. The films and documentaries by Aarohan Theater Group have been subtitled and used internationally. Aarohan Theater Group has produced numerous Radio Dramas, which have been broadcasted all over Nepal. Some of the radio dramas are as long as 136 episodes.

Book publication:

Aarohan-Gurukul has a publication division. It has published numerous books on theater and visual arts.

Morten Krogh and his directorial ventures in Nepal

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Morten KroghProduction still from Tarabaji Lai...LaiEmperor's New ClothesSara Kane's 4.48 Psychosis, directed by Morten Krogh  Ugly Duckling by Morten Krogh
Morten Krogh
Morten Krogh | Source
Production still from Tarabaji Lai...Lai
Production still from Tarabaji Lai...Lai | Source
Emperor's New Clothes
Emperor's New Clothes | Source
Sara Kane's 4.48 Psychosis, directed by Morten Krogh
Sara Kane's 4.48 Psychosis, directed by Morten Krogh | Source
Ugly Duckling by Morten Krogh
Ugly Duckling by Morten Krogh | Source

Deborah Merola, a Ph.D. in theater from the University of California, is in Nepal for her second Senior Fulbright in Theater at Tribhuvan University, in cooperation with Aarohan-Gurukul. Merola has written and directed many plays. Some of her directorial ventures in Nepal are: Miss Julie (2008), Kiss of the Spider Woman (2010), Desire Under the Elms (2011) and Angels in America: Millennium Approaches (2011). Currently, Merola, in association with Nepali theater workers, is working on plays for Nepali audience.

Aarohan Theater Group and Gurukul, school of theater, have partnered with many international theater workers.

Morten Krogh is a theater director and teacher affiliated with Academy of Arts, Oslo, Norway. Over the years Krogh has traveled to Nepal many times and directed plays and trained theater artistes at Aarohan-Gurukul. Apart from Norway and Nepal, Morten Krogh has worked in Palestine, India, Vietnam, Sweden, Denmark, Iceland and Finland.

“Nepal is my second home,” says Morten Krogh. “And Gurukul is a center for me.”

Morten Krogh’s directorial productions in Nepal

Tarabaji Lai…Lai… an improvisational play (2004)

Hans Christian Andersen's Fables: Ugly Duckling, The Little Match Girl, and Emperor's New Cloth (2009)

David Edgar's version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (2009)

Sara Kane's 4.48 Psychosis (2009)

Roberto Athayde's Miss Margarida's Way (2009)

Max Webster and Mia Theil Have: Before Max Webster began to work for Aarohan-Gurukul, he had spent one year volunteering in Nepal. He studied drama at the Lecoq School, in Paris, and the Odin Teatret, Denmark.

Mia Theil Have was trained as an actor at the Odin Teatret, Denmark, where she appeared in numerous plays. Mia has toured in twenty countries as an actor and theater trainer.

For the past few years Max and Mia has been directing plays together. They have performed together in the United Kingdom for National Theater Studio, Theatre503, Southwark Playhouse, The Unicorn Theater, The Arcola, Soho Theater Studio and Riverside Studios, Birmingham School of Acting and Royal Opera House. They have participated in many international theater festivals. Apart from organizing theater workshops, their productions in Nepal include Hungry Tigers (2008), a surreal cabaret that has toured 25 venues in five countries, and The Caucasian Chalk Circle by Bertold Brecht (2010). Currently, Mia and Max are associated with Company of Angels, London.

Dreams of Mayadevi

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Dreams of Peach Blossom

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Aarohan-Gurukul's Productions

Dreams of Mayadevi is a play in Nepali written by Prof. (Dr.) Abhi Subedi, produced by Aarohan Theater Group and Gurukul, and directed by Nisha Sharma Pokharel.

Dreams of Mayadevi captures the repercussion of armed conflict that was going on in Nepal when it was written and produced. The Play dramatizes the predicament of women during People’s War in Nepal. Mayadevi, the central character in the play, whose son is lost in the conflict, dreams about Mayadevi, the Buddha’s mother, who is about to give birth to the Buddha.

Nisha Sharma Pokharel plays Mayadevi in the play. She is an iconic figure in Nepali theater. She has attended theater workshops and classes in theater in Denmark and Norway. She has been honored by many national and international theater institutes and theater groups. Nisha has performed in numerous plays including Nora in A Doll’s House by Henrik Ibsen.

Dreams of Peach Blossoms is a poetic play by Dr. Abhi Subedi and directed by Sunil Pokharel. The play tries to capture the artists and the characters behind the art works in the temples and palaces in Kathmandu Valley. While trying to narrate the ancient stories in the modern time, the play also tells a story of Nepali princess Bhrikuti who was married to Tibetan King in the 6th century. Bhrikuti, who spread Buddhism in Tibet, is worshiped as Green Tara in Tibetan Buddhism.

Sunil Pokharel is actor, director, scene designer, choreographer and conceptualizer. He founded Aarohan Theater Group in 1982. Sunil Pokharel and his Aarohan Theater Group established Gurukul, school of theater, in 2003. Sunil Pokharel’s contribution to modern Nepali theater is very significant. He has directed numerous plays by Nepali and international playwrights and performed on international stages. Some of the directorial ventures by Sunil Pokharel include Oedipus the King, Les Justes and A Doll’s House.

“We pursue theater as politics, as a form of resistance to the passivity by globalized consumer-oriented mass media,” says Sunil Pokharel, the Artistic Director of Aarohan Theater Group.

Prof. Dr. Abhi Subedi is a playwright, poet and scholar. He has published over a dozen books on literature and cultural studies in Nepali and English. Dr. Subedi plays have been performed hundreds of times. Some of his seminal works includes Dreams of Mayadevi, Dreams of Peach Blossoms, Fire in the Monastery etc. He has also worked, in the capacity of President, in the Nepali chapter of International Theater Institute (ITI).

Kamlari: An improvisational play about child labor, directed by Sunil Pokharel.
Kamlari: An improvisational play about child labor, directed by Sunil Pokharel. | Source

Aarohan Theater Group’s Seminal Productions

Production Date
Les Justes
Albert Camus
Sunil Pokharel
A Doll’s House
Henrik Ibsen
Sunil Pokharel
From Life to Life
Abhi Subedi
Sunil Pokharel
Dreams of Mayadevi
Abhi Subedi
Nisha Sharma Pokharel
Fire in the Monastery
Abhi Subedi
Sunil Pokharel
Dreams of Peach Blossom
Abhi Subedi
Sunil Pokharel
Oedipus the King
Sunil Pokharel
Dr. Knock
Jules Romains
Sunil Pokharel
The Chalk Circle
Bertold Brecht
Max Webster/Mia Theil Have
Witnessing Dreams
CK Lal
Sunil Pokharel
Desire Under the Elms
Eugene O’ Neill
Deborah Merola

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