Ratan Thiyam

Born on 20 January 1948 in Nabadwip in Nadia district of West Bengal, Shri Ratan Thiyam is a well-known figure in contemporary Indian theatre. Distinguished by his abilities as a designer, composer, and choreographer for the stage, he has crafted a new theatre idiom that communicates as much through potent imagery, light, sound, and movement as it does by verbal expression. This has enabled Shri Thiyam to reach out to audiences beyond his native Manipur, and strike a chord through his explorations of universal themes. Shri Ratan Thiyam has been active in theatre since his early youth. In 1974, he received his diploma from the National School of Drama, New Delhi, and went on to establish the Chorus Repertory Theatre in Imphal in 1976. Working with the Repertory, he has drawn upon forms of Manipuri music, dance, recitation, and the martial arts to produce striking versions of classic drama as well as new plays of his own refigured from diverse sources. Thereby, Shri Thiyam has created a distinct style in theatre seen to advantage in Chakravyuha (1984), his own play, and in classics such as Bhasa’s Urubhangam (1985), Brecht’s Antigone (1986), Agyeya’s Uttarpriyadarshi (1996), Kalidasa’s Ritusamharam (2002), and Ibsen’s When We Dead Awaken (2008) among others. The Chorus Repertory Theatre has performed these plays worldwide. Shri Thiyam has conducted theatre workshops and has contributed to seminars in many countries. He has also been involved with the Asian Arts Festival in Hong Kong and the Festivals of India in the erstwhile Soviet Union and France as a visualizer, choreographer, and presenter. He has served as Director of the National School of Drama (1987-88), and as Vice-Chairman of Sangeet Natak Akademi (2009-2010). He has published several works of drama, fiction, and poetry in Manipuri. Shri Ratan Thiyam has received a number of honours for his work in the theatre. These include the Fringe Firsts Award of the Edinburgh International Festival (1987); the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for direction (1987); the Padma Shri (1989); the B.M. Shah Award (2000) conferred by Uttar Pradesh Sangeet Natak Akademi; the B.V.Karanth Smriti Puraskar (2004) awarded by the National School of Drama; the Kalidas Samman (2005); and the John D. Rockefeller Award bestowed by the Asian Cultural Council (2008). Shri Ratan Thiyam is elected Fellow of Sangeet Natak Akademi for his contribution to Indian theatre.