Lhakpa Lhamluk, Director of Tibet Theatre, discusses his involvement with Abhishek Majumdar’s Pah-La. Click here to read Lhakpa’s blog in Tibetan.
How did you and your company, Tibet Theatre, become involved in Pah-La?
In 2013, Abhishek came to India and we met. He was interested to learn as much as he could about the political situation of Tibetans and the experiences for the community in Tibet and in exile. He told me he was interested in writing a play about Tibet and asked me to be his guide in Dharmashala.
I know many in the community as I worked with NGOs, so I have experience of finding people to talk about Tibet. And I introduced him to as many people as I could. We interviewed lots of people, young and older, who shared different views and experiences.
From there Abhishek became involved in the work I was doing with Tibet Theatre and ran workshops with me at a school, sharing his skills as a theatre director and writer.
Abhishek and one of the directors from the Royal Court also did a workshop on the play and we discussed it for two days.
What for you is important about the story Abhishek is trying to tell?
It’s really big and important to have a play about the conditions in Tibet. Tibet doesn’t get attention because the world’s media is not interested in non-violence. This play is a chance to focus on Tibet and the struggle, which for me is very important. Many people of different generations can engage in theatre – in a story – which creates awareness.
Right now only some NGO leaders and heads have good political knowledge of what is going on. But the majority of Tibetans in exile don’t know much about the situation inside Tibet even though they are very patriotic, because there is no freedom of media in Tibet and here we cannot get the news about real political situations inside Tibet. In my opinion the majority in exile are not aware of the real issues happening inside Tibet.
As Tibetans in exile, sometimes we don’t consider or feel our own mistakes, we blame everything on China but sometimes we also make mistakes. For example, when people in Tibet self-immolate, we don’t think about whether the people around them like their act or not. We only take one point of view. In exile we protest only in one direction with one idea.
Abhishek has spent time in Tibet also and in the play he has written more than one side which is important. For example, with self-immolation, some people think it is a good thing, some people don’t want it.
In the play, one of the character carries out an act of self-immolation. You yourself famously did this, what is the significance of the act.
I can only talk from my own experience. Everyone has their own motives and objectives. In 2006, when the Chinese leader Hu Jintao came to India, I wanted to highlight the cruelness and ruthlessness he had shown in 1989 when he was the ruler of the Chinese so-called TAR region of Tibet. I wanted the world’s media to be aware of it. My action was not as big as saying ‘Free Tibet’, I wanted to focus on one leader and what he had done.
How will Tibet Theatre be involved in the future of Pah-La?
We are planning to have a Tibetan version of the play in the future which we hope to tour all over India and to Germany, Australia and the US – wherever there are Tibetans, with performances subtitled in English. We want to encourage Tibetan youngsters to be involved, strengthen the community and be stronger in the Tibetan struggle. Theatre is a powerful way to do that.
Click here to read Lhakpa’s blog in Tibetan.