From left: Theatre artist and Everest summiteer Rojita Buddhacharya hosts the opening ceremony of Nitfest as Sagar Subedi interprets her speech. 

Strategic Partnership - Nepal International Theatre Festival 2019
The British Council supported the Nepal International Theatre Festival as the Strategic Partner for its first edition which was held between 25 February and 4 March 2019. The primary objective of this partnership was to ensure that some level of accessibility for disabled audiences is secured. While access is very difficult for people with physical difficulties in all theatre halls in Nepal—no theatre is wheelchair accessible, for example--some interventions regarding content accessibility was made in the festival.

Panel Discussion – Disability Inclusion in Theatre Arts
Disability is a topic that has been discussed extensively in Nepali theatre, but unfortunately, while plays around disability issues have been produced in the past, almost none of them saw the direct involvement of disabled people in production. Also, during pre-production, there are hardly any disabled characters that are developed for the stage. The ones that are created by non-disabled people are often portrayed to symbolise weakness, sympathy, or for comic relief. The panel discussion brought together an artist, a producer, and a disability organisation professional to talk about how hands-on inclusivity could be brought about in Nepali theatre and how it could be made more accessible to disabled people.

Dayahang Rai - film actor/theatre director
Mairi Taylor - Birds of Paradise
Manish Prasai - National Federation of the Disabled Nepal
Moderator: Sagar Prasain – Nitfest team member/disability rights advocate

Two sign language interpreters interpreted the discussion for the 12 deaf people in the audience. The following concerns and ideas were discussed by the panel:

  • All panelists agreed on the importance of bringing disability issues into the mainstream theatre for greater awareness
  • The dire need is to make physical infrastructure more accessible for the inclusion of disabled people.  There are no theatre halls in Nepal that are wheelchair accessible, for example.
  • The importance of disabled people to be involved in the production, especially in ones that involve disability as a topic or have disabled characters.
From left (on stage): Moderator Sagar Prasain with panelists Mairi Taylor, Manish Prasain and Dayahand Rai.
Sign language interpreters were assigned to interpret the opening/closing ceremonies of the festival as well as to interpret two Nepali plays—Gainda Times and Jokhana—performed during the festival.

About Nepal International Theatre Festival
Seven theatre companies from Nepal came together to organise Nepal International Theatre Festival (Nitfest). The festival was themed “Theatre for Social Transformation” and staged works that addressed issues surrounding communal harmony, social diversity and the preservation of intangible cultural heritage. The central idea behind organising the event was to address the various socio-political issues around the world through awareness, art and exchange. The festival featured performances from nine different countries from around the world showcasing 30 plays alongside art performances and several workshops, discussions, and open-air performances.

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