Manipur is known for giving the nation many icons in the field of art and music. These artists have brought laurels to not just the state but also to the nation.
Recently, theatre artist, playwright and director from Manipur, Wareppa Naba, became a recipient of the Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian honour of India, for the year 2017.
Manipur is one of the few states in India that offers the taste of open air theatre to its people. Open air drama is also popularly known as 'Shumang Leela' in Manipur.
A blend of tradition, music, dance and contemporary imagination is portrayed through Shuman Leela.
Wareppa Naba is a prominent Sarkirtana performing artist and a popular theatre artist and a director.
Naba is being honoured for his tremendous contributions in the field of theatre, sankirtana and narrative performing arts.
Naba said, "I feel immensely pleasure and happiness when I received the news from the Ministry of Home Affairs for the prestigious award of Padma Shri. I did not much believe or expected because this is one of the highest civilian award I should say."
Wareppa spent his early life in the field of traditional art under the guidance of his father.
In 1965, under the leadership of Padma Bhushan awardee late H. Kanhailal Singh, Naba played an active role in establishing his group, Theatre Mirror, with other theatre enthusiasts.
Naba said, "I started my theater career as a devotee in the field of culture in the year 1965. Since then, I have been seriously involved in theatre activities in the state Manipur and there are so many number of narrative arts and performing arts and Manipur being the rich cultural heritage, it gives me tremendous help to excel in the field of art with hardships and hard work."
He added, "My Adi-Guru, Padma Bhushan awardee Kanhailal, Director of Kala Theatre, he insisted (that) me and he lead me in the field of theatre. I should say each and every works now I have been performing as my duty, all credits goes to my Adi-Guru Kanhailal Singh."
So far, he has acted in more than 150 plays and directed and produced 100 plays apart from directing 40 Shuman Leela , the courtyard plays.
He has also written more than 20 plays and conducted more than 40 intensive theatre workshops for the youngsters.
Naba's devotion to the cause of revitalizing Shumang Leela, has been acknowledged over the years.
So far, he has received 23 awards at the state and national levels.
Naba said, "I have been always dreaming for a theatre for our region in which theatre is a medium with contemporary touch and by giving colour with all our traditional and culture of Manipur. I would like to give for nourishment of new artist. It is my prime objective. Without being having enough actors in our region, we can do nothing for the promotion of theatre."
Such active theatre artists from Manipur act as an inspiration for many, especially to the youngsters.
His contribution towards preserving the dying art of the state will help revitalize it and also help it reach out to a wider audience.