“Cultural Awareness Through Drama”
This year marks the 30th Anniversary of the Bhaktivedanta Manor’s main drama group. It has been led chiefly by Jaya Krishna Das and Dwarka Puri das but over the years a great many other devotees of all ages and backgrounds have participated and given much of their time.
Disciples of Srila Prabhupada pioneered the first dramas at Bhaktivedanta Manor during the early 1970’s. By 1985 the baton had gradually passed onto the next generation and The Bhaktivedanta Players in its present structure was born.
Since then the Players have entertained and educated audiences consistently during all of the Manor’s major functions. Not only at festivals, but also on Sundays, community functions, Hare Krishna Festivals UK, universities and outreach events. Between 1995 and 2004 the Players performed The Ramayan at more than an hundred schools across the UK, in conjunction with ISKCON Educational Services.
The Players have also gained a reputation on an international level. They were sponsored to perform in the United States nine times, India four times, plus South Africa, Mauritius, West and East Europe, East Africa and Israel.
“I have calculated that we have written and performed exactly 108 different plays over the years, including both stories from the scriptures and contemporary plays with a spiritual message,” explained Dwarka Puri das.
Radha Mohan Das remembers when he joined the Players:
“During the early 1990’s I was studying drama at Manchester University and simultaneously taking my first steps of my spiritual life. At the time I was doing lots of plays, as I had done since childhood, but deep down I always felt something important was missing. I enjoyed the Thespian world but I was looking for more meaning, purpose and depth than I had previously encountered. I found that meaning in Srila Prabhupada’s books and when the local ISKCON temple told me there was a drama group based at Bhaktivedanta Manor I naturally wanted to take part. That was 21 years ago and I suppose in many ways I have not looked back since”.
Touring “The Mahabharat”
As a central part of observed their 30th Anniversary, the Players have just completed touring a two- and-a-half hour spectacular Mahabharat drama. The tour included four performances in huge venues across London. “We performed in front of packed houses, and at our Premier, 730 came and we even had to turn people away,” explained Director Jaya Krishna das. “The feedback we received was incredible! Devotees described the show as spectacular. It was the result of many hours of hard work, of course.”