A Long Flight
It has been an amazing journey. At the very onset, we would like to thank all of you, staunch supporters and friends of Epic Actors’ Workshop and Choir, for your undying support and encouragement in all these years. The group was originally formed by Dr Dipan Ray in New York, 1988. Over the years, Epic broadened its mission to showcase and underscore the importance of South Asian theater, mostly Bangla Theater, performance and (the) arts within the community and in the larger context of mainstream American culture. Although Epic’s focus has been to provide a platform for Bangla Theater in the United States, it has also tried to be a conduit that connects the emerging trends and thoughts of Bangla theater in Kolkata with the Indian diasporas in the US. In this process, Epic espouses to support all intercultural and multicultural endeavors.
Among the highlights of Epic’s career are 3 noteworthy events or happenings. In 1997, Epic first made its grand entry into the The New York International Fringe Festival (FringeNYC), which has become the largest multi-arts festival in North America, with more than 200 companies from all over the world performing for 16 days in more than 20 venues. Epic produced Badal Sircar’s Ballabhpurer Roopkatha and received quite a bit of appreciation, and since then Epic Actors’ Workshop has been regularly invited to perform at the Fringe Festival in New York. This summer too. Epic will be staging Manoj Mitra’s Ashvatthama at the Fringe, directed by Sakti Sengupta.
In the summer of 1999, Epic collaborated with the Present Company, an off-off Broadway theater company and the producers of Fringe, to stage Nuraldeen’s Lifetime, directed by Sudipto Chatterjee. The play was originally written by Syed Shamsul Haq from Bangladesh. It was performed in New York City at the Present Company in a bilingual (Bangla and English) format with actors from Kolkata and Bangladesh (living in the US) and also included mainstream American actors. Nuraldeen received a fabulous review in the Village Voice and was written about in other mainstream and community-based newspapers and magazines of New York City. Nuraldeen had a 2-week run and every show was practically sold out. In the winter of the same year, the entire cast was transported too Kolkata to participate in the annual Nandikar theater festival. This time the production took on another dimension. In Kolkata, Epic collaborated with local theater group, Natya Anan and put up 5 shows of Nuraldeen’s Lifetime, receiving much critical acclaim from all the leading newspapers of Kolkata. In the vein of collaborations, Epic (June 2004) collaborated with Sayak, a renowned theater group from Kolkata to stage Samaresh Basu’s Adaab, directed by Meghnaad Bhattacharya in Kolkata, for a benefit show to help the handicapped children of the city.
Lately, Epic has taken on a mission to remount the legendary theater productions of Bangla Theater performed in Kolkata since the 1960s. Among such noteworthy production, Epic has already produced Manoj Mitra’s Chaak Bhanga Madhu in 2002 under the tutelage of Bibhash Chakraborty, one of the living legends of Bengali theater in Kolkata. In the summer of 2003, Ashoke Mukherjee, a celebrated theater director of Kolkata (artistic director of theater Workshop, Kolkata) visited the US and directed Rabindranath Tagore’s Chirakumar Sabha for Epic Actors’ Workshop. The productions were raved about by audiences and also received tremendous favorable reviews and commendations. In 2004, Epic presented Balidaan, by Girishchandra Ghosh, in New York and New Jersey and was honored to be staging one of Girish Ghosh’s plays commemorating the 160th year of his birth anniversary. It was a huge success under the guidance of Sakti Sengupta and Epic Actors’ Workshop was once again privileged to be working with Bibhash Chakroborty in an epoch-making play of Bangla theater.
In 2004, Epic’s Artistic Director Sakti Sengupta received an award from Union County Art Council for his excellent Direction of “Asvatthama” that was staged during International Fringe Festival, 2004.
In 2005, Epic created another mile stone by producing a theatrical collage tiled “ Evolution of Bengali Theater – A journey for 200 years” under the direction of renowned Director Sri Ashok Mukhopadhaya of Kolkata during the Silver Jubilee celebration of Banga Sammelan in Manhattan Center.
Although Epic’s focus has been to provide a platform for Bangla theater in the United States, it has also tried to be a conduit that connects the emerging trends and thoughts of Bangla theater in Kolkata with the Indian diasporas in the US. In this process, Epic espouses to support all intercultural and multicultural endeavors.
With this objective in mind Epic finally achieved its mission by organizing the first South Asian Theater Festival in New Jersey in July, 2006.