With the country up against growing youth unemployment and more recently the mass exodus down under, many say it’s crunch time for Bhutan to keep its youth meaningfully engaged within the country. Would an acting course for budding talents and young minds with a dream to become a star add some vigour to the Australia-driven youth psyche? A two-month acting course the Education and Skills Development ministry is conducting is attempting to do just that.
Ten youths looking for a break in acting have gathered at the capital from various districts, some from the remotest corners of the country.
As it’s called, a Black Box Theatre is a room with black walls and a flat floor used for performances. Every day, they meet in the theatre where they are coached to become future superstars.
Draduk Muensel, one of the participants says he’s able to gain confidence and skills through the training.
“Recently Pawo Choyning’s film, ‘Lunana: A Yak in the Classroom’ got nominated for the Oscars and even received a medal from His Majesty the King, which is why I believe there will be a change in the Bhutanese film industry scenario and we wish to be part of that change,” he added.
During the course, they are taught monologues, co-acting and group acting. Two instructors who also attended a similar course last year are now the trainers of the current batch. They said talented participants get selected for the Bhutanese film industry. Among the 8 participants in the first batch, half of them are now involved in the industry.
Pema Yangki Dorji, who is taking part in the course said, “Without an opportunity like this, no matter how talented you are, you are left behind. We’re able to showcase our talent here. We’re lucky since our government not only provides free training but also provides a stipend, which further motivates us to participate in such activities. Even in the future, if directors give us the chance to perform, we can confidently take on the role.”
For the current batch, initially, 15 of them were selected through an interview with 72 applicants. However, five of them opted not to take part. Some had left overseas.
Instructors feel that for the ones taking part, this could be an opportunity to build their careers on.
Dawa Tshering, one of the instructors said that young people can still be gainfully employed in the country.
“Many youths bring up issues of unemployment and eventually leave the country. But people have different mindsets. It’s not a matter of work unavailability but the will to search for it. Such training will aid them if they choose to pursue a career in the film industry in the future,” he added.
After the training, they will be provided with a two-week basic entrepreneurship course to equip them with basic entrepreneurship skills.
And day by day, the newbies, with hard work, persistence and experience could become the next superstar storytellers. A star could be born out of the Black Box Theater.