Friday, June 20, 2008

Syed Jamil Ahmed: A Brief Profile

Syed Jamil Ahmed (b. 1955) is a director based in Bangladesh and Professor at the Department of Theatre and Music, University of Dhaka. He graduated from the National School of Drama (New Delhi, India) in 1978, obtained his MA in Theatre Studies from the University of Warwick (UK) in 1989 and his PhD (on “Indigenous Theatrical Performances in Bangladesh: Its History and Practices”) from the University of Dhaka in 1997. He founded the Department of Theatre and Music at the University of Dhaka in 1994 and served as its Chair till 1997. He has taught at the Antioch College, USA (1990), King Alfred’s University, UK (2002) and San Francisco City College, USA (2005). He has also given numerous workshops on theatre in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Germany. He has over 50 research articles to his credit, some of which have been published in TDR: The Drama Review, New Theatre Quarterly, Asian Theatre Journal, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, and Research in Drama Education. His full-length publications in English are Acinpākhi Infinity: Indigenous Theatre in Bangladesh and In Praise of Niranjan: Islam, Theatre, and Bangladesh. His next full-length publication, Against Orientalist Grain: Performance and Politics Entwined with a Buddhist Strain, is expected to be published from Kolkata, India, in June 2008.

Syed Jamil Ahmed’s performance credits include direction of over 20 plays including The Wheel by Selim al-Deen (English translation of Chaka, jointly directed with Denny Partridge) at the Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio, USA in 1990; an adaptation of Bisad Sindhu (a 19th century prose narrative on the Karbala tragedy by Meer Musharraf Hussein) in Dhaka in 1992; Kamala Ranir Sagar Dighi (devised from the indigenous theatre form of Pala Gan performed by Islamuddin Palakar) at the Department of Theatre and Music, University of Dhaka in 1997; Ek Hazar and Ek Thi Rate (an adaptation of A Thousand and One Nights) with Tehrik-i-Niswan, in Karachi in 1998; Behular Bhasan (an adaptation of the Manasa-mangal) with the Department of Theatre and Music, University of Dhaka in 2004 and 2005; and Pahiye (Hindi translation of Chaka) at the National School of Drama, New Delhi, India in 2006. Many of these plays have travelled to theatre festivals held in Kolkata, Agartala, New Delhi, and Islamabad. He has also designed the set for over 70 performances and lighting for over 80 performances in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan. He received two Fulbright fellowships (in 1990 and 2005) and his major areas of interest are Indigenous Theatre of South Asia and Theatre for Development.

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