Accepted paper:

The state of theatre in Bhutan and the role of Happy Valley Theatre as an Advocate of Change


Tshering Dorji

Paper short abstract:

This presentation tells about the state of theatre in Bhutan. After giving an overview on the history of theater in Bhutan it will present the view of a theater company's struggles with contemporary modernization and development processes while trying to keep a balance between theatre as a creative art form for sustaining local traditions and as a means of advocacy for social change.

Paper long abstract:

Traditionally, theatre in Bhutan has never been a distinguished art form apart from the performances in religious festivals such as tshechus. However, from the 1960s until today there have been scattered attempts to develop a drama theatre tradition based on traditional stories such as Gasa lami Singye, the Bhutanese equivalent to Romeo and Juliet. In 2007 Happy Valley Youth Entertainment (in short Happy Valley) was founded as an edutainment company, based in Thimphu. Realizing the importance of ownership Happy Valley applied the principles of a cooperative, sharing responsibilities of decision-making, sharing profits and keeping accounts transparent to every member. Happy Valley also aims at helping socially challenged young people (substance abusers, alcoholics, people with precarious family situations, etc.) to develop more self esteem and stability in life. The ultimate objective is to use theatre and entertainment as a means for social change. Contemporary modernization and development processes, where modern aspects of theatre and entertainment have been introduced to the country, make it difficult to sustain the already marginalized art form of theatre. Happy Valley tries to combine traditional theatrical elements with contemporary social motives to carry out a form of social advocacy, funded by various organizations. This presentation is about the state of theatre in Bhutan, presenting a view from a theater company and its struggles with contemporary obstacles and conflicts while trying to keep a balance between theatre as a creative art form and as a means of advocacy for change.

panel P25
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