A FRESH NEW VOICE
Tibet Theatre has emerged as an exciting new initiative within the complexities of the
current political and social context. This amateur contemporary theatre group is the first
of its kind within the exile community and will serve to highlight the many issues Tibetan
refugees are grappling with today.
Tibet Theatre’s mission is clear: to develop a theatre that is indigenous, and to reflect
the foibles and triumphs of the exile community. Relying largely on satire and comedy,
the group seeks to expose truths and challenge norms, no matter how uncomfortable
they may be.
This means exposing potentially controversial issues such as gender relations, HIV/
AIDS, children’s and women’s rights, environmental issues, political and religious rivalries,and the decline of Tibetan traditions, morals and ethics.
Perhaps most importantly, Tibet Theatre’s vision is to build community awareness,stimulate debate and generate social change through the medium of performance.
The brainchild of Lhakpa Tsering (also the Director of Volunteer Tibet) and Tseten
“Gyoo” Dorjee (see biographies below), Tibet Theatre is an evolving group of seven
members, most of whom are newly arrived refugees with fluent Tibetan. Performances
will be delivered in venues ranging from traditional performance halls to more immediate
street sketches to reach as wide an audience as possible.
By creating a “people’s theatre”, Tibet Theatre will:
• offer a safe environment where freedom of expression and speech will not only
be valued, but encouraged
• raise awareness of the Tibetan struggle both within and outside exile communities
• showcase the richness and diversity of Tibetan culture through original plays
• provide a platform for the artistic talents of Tibetan youths and adults
• promote creative thinking within the refugee community
• elevate, enlighten, educate, enhance and empower individuals
• generate community cohesiveness and unity, and
• instil national pride, particularly among young Tibetan refugees.
A DEPARTURE FROM TRADITION
Traditional Tibetan theatre is said to have originated around the 14th or 15th century
and is a great symbol of national identity. It typically combines singing, dialogue, dance,
acrobatics, mime, an instrumental musical ensemble and flamboyant, elaborate costumes
– making for a true spectacle.
One of the most popular forms of Tibetan theatre is opera (or “llamo”), which is distinguished by the draynen, a musical instrument somewhere between a violin and guitar.
Lhamo often deals with Tibetan history, mythology and Buddhist religion.
Shows begin with a ritual purification to the god of drama and a summary of the plot by
a narrator. They often focus on themes of good versus evil. Until recent times, performances
were made under special tents, on temple grounds or in open spaces, allowing
for audience interaction.
Tibet Theatre represents a marked departure from this ancient tradition. It acts as a
fresh new voice for Tibetans in exile, inspired by modern-day issues.
OPENING NIGHT: A SHOW TO REMEMBER
The opening night on 6 July 2011 was attended by about 250 people, filling up to twothirds
of the theatre. The event’s success was demonstrated by the near non-stop
laughter and hilarity from the audience, some of whom were in tears (of joy). Feedback
after the show confirmed that the show was a real treat, as people had never seen
something quite like this before. The play’s themes spoke directly to their hearts and
minds and they could identify directly with some or all of the characters.
Tibet Theatre performed a second show on July 16, 2011.
The event was covered by four media organisations (online, print & radio).
A LONG-TERM VISION
Tibet Theatre is in its early days and will focus on small-scale plays and dramas to gain
recognition and continuing support. However, in the long-term future, its founders and
actors hope to introduce various projects that will allow Tibet Theatre to move from
strength to strength.
These include, but are not limited to:
• theatre workshops to promote the importance of theatre within society
• introduce scholarships for bright, young talents
• drama, as a mean to achieve therapeutic goals, and
• branching out into other art forms such as documentary or animated movie.
The annual budget for Tibet Theatre for its first year is US$15,385 (annexe 1). This
amount will cover all expenses related to venue hire, technical equipment, costumes,
salaries, administration costs, catering and other miscellaneous costs. The budget for
the following 2 years (2017-2018, 2018-2019) is estimated to remain the same as the initial investments will continue.
THE FOUNDERS OF TIBET THEATRE
Lhakpa Tsering was born in 1983 in a southern Tibetan village that was completely
under Chinese rule. From a nomadic family, his father died when he was three. When
Lhakpa was nine, he fled to India, alone, to escape a turbulent family life. He was eventually
sent to Dharamsala and educated at the Tibetan Children’s Village for recent refugees.
During this time, he became captivated by the theatre, writing his own plays in his
spare time. Lhakpa has been socially active throughout his life. Among his many roles,
he has been: Student Council President, General Secretary and President of the Regional
Tibetan Youth Congress, and General Secretary of the Regional National Democratic
Party of Tibet. In 2006, Lhakpa made international headlines when he attempted
self-immolation to protest against a visit by Chinese President Hu Jintao to India and
the continuing human rights abuses in Tibet from China’s occupation.
Tseten “Gyoo” Dorjee was born in the Tibetan capital of Lhasa in 1988. He decided to
flee to India a trying incident where he was interrogated by police for wearing a Dalai
Lama badge pinned inside his clothes. He also wished to pursue further educational
opportunities than were available in Tibet. In 2006, he travelled to the Tibet-Nepal border
on a legal business permit. From there, he was smuggled across a short distance
to safety. That same year, he moved to Dharamsala. For three years, Gyoo was Vice
President of Tibet Hope Centre, an NGO for newly arrived refugees. During this time, he
demonstrated his talent for “show business” by organising and acting in a number of political
dramas. He has also performed Tibetan hip-hop and traditional songs at TIPA Hall.
Tibet Theatre will greatly appreciate your support, great or small, to ensure its ongoing
success. For more information or to make a donation to Tibet Theatre, please contact
Style Hub shop opposit to Tibetan welfare office,
P.O Mcleodganj District Kangara H.P Inida
Facebook: join us on Facebook –
Tibet Theatre (group), Tibettheatre Den-kyop Ul-kyong (individual)
Phone: (+91) 9882229880, (+91)9816068389