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Samuel brings theatre back to Punjab villages

Actor Samuel John’s plays revolve around small farmers and Dalits who comprise his main audience.

JATINDER PREET  Ludhiana | 9th Mar 2013

Actor Samuel John is busy doing street plays in Punjab’s villages.

ctor Samuel John, who played the lead role in the national award-winning Punjabi film Anhey Ghore Da Daan, is back to his first love, theatre. The actor is busy doing street plays in the Dalit localities in Punjab's villages.

"There is not much to do for an actor like me in the kind of films being made these days anyway," he said, quickly adding that he has nothing against commercial cinema. "But for me the subject matter of the film is more important," he said. Samuel's plays revolve around small farmers and Dalits who comprise his main audience. The plays Kirti (worker) and Bagan Da Rakha (Orchard Keeper) are popular.

Samuel, a post-graduate in theatre and television from Punjabi University, Patiala, had been involved in street plays in schools, street corners and sometimes even in courtyards of homes for many years till Anhey Ghore Da Daan brought a short break. The film went on to fetch many awards at national and international forums.

"I began with plays in Dalit neighbourhoods in villages. People would offer flour, rice and pulses as remuneration after the shows. It was a humbling experience and helped me continue my work," recalled Samuel.

The lack of resources remains a problem for the actor but that does not hinder his work. Small farmer and labour organisations come forward to help organise his plays.

Samuel has designed his plays keeping in mind these limitations. For instance, he does street theatre with only one or two actors, without any props or other accoutrements. Samuel promotes his belief in this kind of theatre to the poor students in government schools too, where he performs.

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