Syed Jamil Ahmed: A Brief Profile
Syed Jamil Ahmed (b. 1955) is a theatre director based in Bangladesh and Professor at the Department of Theatre, University of Dhaka. He graduated from the National School of Drama (New Delhi, India) in 1978, received 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 served as a visiting faculty at the Antioch College, USA (1990), King Alfred’s University, UK (2002), San Francisco City College, USA (2005) and Jadavpur University, India (2011). He has also given numerous workshops on theatre in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Germany, presented research papers in numerous conferences, and has over 60 research articles to his credit. Some of his articles have been published in TDR: The Drama Review, New Theatre Quarterly, Asian Theatre Journal, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, South Asian Popular Culture, Research in Drama Education, Asia: Magazine of Asian Literature, and Asian Ethnology. His book-length publications are Hajar Bachhar: Bangladesher Natak O Natyakala (1995), Acinpakhi Infinity: Indigenous Theatre in Bangladesh (2000), Unnayan Natya: Tattva O Prayog (2001), In Praise of Niranjan: Islam Theatre, and Bangladesh (2001), Reading Against the Orientalist Grain: Performance and Politics Entwined with a Buddhist Strain (2008), and Applied Theatricks: Essays in Refusal (2013). Currently, he is working on a book-length publication on folkloristics of Bangladesh. He received two Fulbright fellowships (in 1990 and 2005), and has travelled extensively in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. His major areas of research interest are Indigenous Theatre of South Asia and Applied Theatre.
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, and in Dhaka in 1991; 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 on 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, 2005 and 2010; Pahiye (Hindi translation of Chaka) at the National School of Drama, New Delhi, India in 2006; Sang Bhang Chang (devised on the indigenous theatre form of Sang Jatra) with the Department of Theatre, University of Dhaka in 2009; Shakespeare’s Macbeth at the National School of Drama, New Delhi, India in 2010; and Shyamar Udal, an adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore’s Shyama, produced by Rangakarmee, Kolkata, in 2012. Many of these plays have travelled to theatre festivals held in Kolkata, Agartala, New Delhi, and Islamabad. He has also set designed over 70 performances and lighting for over 80 performances in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.