Bangladeshi Christian actors say they get great pleasure taking on challenging rolls on stage, especially ones which give them opportunities to portray Christian values. However, speaking on World Theater Day on March 27 several performers said there is a lack of Christian actors working in the country’s theater industry. They say although treading the boards is a labor of love, the theater has its fair share of ups and downs. “Theater is still developing in the country, but is now in a better state than in the past. Many educated young people are queuing up to try their luck in the theater and the government has also been very positive in providing financial support. But there are still many challenges working in the theater for everybody, not just Christians,” said Pijush Roy, 21. “Many theater groups, such as mine, struggle financially. We often finance the production of dramas with subscriptions from members and are paid after the tickets are sold,” the Catholic actor with Mukto Moncha (Open Theater), lamented. Finding a venue to stage performances often takes months, Roy added. Roy has been acting for four years, but says it’s a profession that doesn’t attract many Christians. “Fewer young Christian people want to take up acting. Out of 50 people I’ve seen trying acting as a career, only one survived!” he added. Jhontu Baine, 40, a Protestant actor agreed, saying that the industry is no bed of roses. “It’s difficult to earn good money in theater. I’ve got my own business and act in the theater for pleasure. It’s also a time-consuming art,” he said. “However, theater provides opportunities for freedom of thought which can affect consciences of others by instilling goodness and changes for the better,” said the actor from Nagorik (Citizen) theater. Although the pay in theater is not substantial, Baine points out that 90 percent of Bangladeshi TV actors are products of the theater, so many young people are looking to find a career on TV and the theater is a place they just pass through. Luna Marandi, 17, meanwhile said although working on stage is very challenging; it’s the applause from audiences she loves. “Drama is a very popular way drawing people’s attention to various issues, especially regarding values. It’s regrettable that there are few Christian actors and directors around to produce dramas depicting Christian or Biblical values,” she lamented. Sunil Pereira, 58, a Catholic cultural activist and playwright from the Catholic Bishops’ Christian Communications Center said the government needs to support theater arts more and so does the Church. “Once Christian society was very fond of theater and many dramas used to be performed in various parishes across the country. But it’s sad that this tradition is declining. Theater could be a very good platform to promote social values and awareness,” he added. There are currently over 100 theater groups in Bangladesh. BA13781.1647
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