Nepal shuts down play about Tibetan refugees ahead of PM’s China visit

Tuladhar’s Kora being performed at Shilpee theatre. Image: Kumar Ale

DHARAMSALA, June 21: A play about Tibetan refugees has been shelved from a theatre in Kathmandu owing to pressure from the Nepalese government ahead of Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli’s visit to China.

Shilpee Theatre in Kathmandu cancelled two shows of Kora, a play depicting the woes of Tibetan refugees living in Nepal and India after receiving warning from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), reports

The play is reported to have begun staging from May 31 and was supposed to continue till June 14 but the board of Shilpee Theatre decided to shut the play on June 8, after the artistic director of the theatre, Ghimire Yubaraj told the director of the play, Loonibha Tuladhar that he had received warnings from Nepal’s MoFA.

Though Tuladhar wanted the play to continue but had to shut it down as she was worried about the safety of the cast and crew.

“The artist inside of me died. I was not able to sleep or eat. I chose to remain silent. I felt this was safe for everyone around me including my one baby boy,” she said in the report.

According to the report, initially, Tuladhar is said to have been reluctant to go public with the story because she assumed that the future of Shilpee Theatre was at stake.

Tuladhar’s Kora, a play depicting the woes of Tibetan refugees living in Nepal and India has drawn inspiration from Tibetan writer and activist Tenzin Tsundue’s book ‘Kora: Stories and Poems’ which was published in 2002. Tuladhar has even used some of Tsundue’s poems as well.

The report further said that though the assistant spokesperson for the MoFA has denied that the Ministry has issued threats, an acquaintance from MoFA has called the theatre and said that the Nepalese government was resolute on one China policy.

“The move to limit my artistic expression felt like being a refugee in my own home,” she said after having to shut down the play under pressure.

Nepal’s Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli’s left Kathmandu on June 19 for his five-day China visit.

Earlier in February, The Royal Court Theatre in London is reported to have shelved Abhishek Majumdar’s play Pah-la because of fears over an arts programme in Beijing. His play deals with life in contemporary Tibet and personal stories of Tibetans he worked with in India which is home to the Dalai Lama as well as the largest number of Tibetan refugees in exile.

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