A Season of Bangla Drama opened with the ‘Altab Ali Story’ by the Swadhinata Trust/Strongback Productions staged on 1 November at the Brady Centre, East London. The heart breaking story of Altab Ali’s death oscillates between his village home and his flat in East London where he stayed. The play dramatizes the historic moment in 1978 when his mother was given the devastating news and the impact of this senseless murder that still lives on both for his family and the community at large. The play was written by Julie Begum and directed by Mukul Ahmed.
Prior to Altab Ali ‘Say What?’ was staged. ‘Say What?’ was a culmination of drama rehearsals with young Bengalis and their perceptions of what it means to be Bangladeshi living in London. The story was set in the early 1980s amidst nostalgic music, movement, physical theatre and drama, expressing the family histories of the young people and their experiences at what it means to be Bangladeshi. Directed by Dr Canan Salih cast included Sadia Malik, Salman Malik, Protthoy Sheikh, Priyoty Sheikh, Rishi Raed Gazi, Lily-Maya Siddique and Masuma Begum.
Season of Bangla Drama is a distinctive theatre festival, the only one of its type in the UK which also nurtures home grown talent and celebrates the contributions of Bengali writers, local organisations and artists who are both emerging and established. Thematically, the festival incorporates a range of topical themes such as mental and physical health, violence against women, racism and environmental issues as well as a range of emotions and character traits which drive certain behaviour – from love and greed to ambition and despair.