8-14 March 2013 #646

The Queens of drama

This women's day we celebrate female trailblazers of Nepali theatre
Suman Raymajhi

While the big boys of politics hog the headlines left, right, and centre, there is a quiet revolution underway in Nepali theatre.

For too long theatre remained the sole dominion of Nepali men . There was a time when there were zero female artists and men enacted all their roles.

The 'boy's club' mentality still continues to some extent even today, where female playwrights, producers, directors, actors, set designers face greater difficulties trying establish themselves and are paid pennies compared to their male counterparts. Many simply pass into oblivion within a few years.

Today, however, we celebrate three women power players from the Nepali theatre. Despite immense adversities, these trailblazers have made an unwavering commitment to their art and are inspiring other female artists to break free of cultural shackles through their hard work.

Aruna Karki

Aruna was 13 when she first stood on stage under the spotlight. 19 years later, her love for acting has only grown stronger. A small town girl from Sarlahi, she says she dreamt of being a theatre actress ever since she was old enough to understand. Aruna started her journey as a student of Nachghar and later entered Gurukul where she was an instrumental part of many performances. She says her undying devotion for the art is what has kept her going for almost two decades and gave her the strength to persevere even in the most trying times. Staying true to her art, she works extremely hard to get into the skin of each character she portrays and her colleagues say she transforms into a totally different person everytime on stage. In her latest role in Chhadke , Aruna does an extremely convincing job as a doting wife.

Diya Maskey

Diya is perhaps the most well-known face of Nepali theatre today. A trained Kathak dancer, she feels she expresses her ideas and emotions best through acting. Before stepping onto the stage, she was part of the popular television series Dalan. A former student of Anup Baral, Diya joined Actor’s Studio after realising that it was possible to earn a living out of the profession. Now she is an instructor at the very studio where she first found her footing.

She built her success by showing immense patience and putting in long hours even when things were not going her way. So it came as no surprise to those who knew Diya when she won the love of critics and ordinary Nepalis through her stellar performances in Kagbeni and the recently released Soongava. She says theatre isn’t for the light-hearted or those looking to become overnight sensations. Her mantra for success to young actresses: a single-minded focus on what they are doing rather than being influenced by what others think and say about them.

Sumana KC

Sumana KC is among the very few Nepali artists who has an international degree in drama. After dabbling in the art for a few years, she left for India to get her diploma because she felt she needed to learn the basic concepts and theories. She says her years in drama school not only helped her get a deeper understanding of acting, but also the economics and marketing behind that happen behind the curtains. Not one to limit herself, Sumana has experimented with direction through plays like Budhhamatanah Dhoncholecha (The Clever She Goat), Purgatory, and Bodhi. She wants to devote the next few years solely to acting and then direct plays, and eventually feature films.