Shafi Ahmed

Prof. Shafi Ahmed taught English Literature and Theatre Studies for nearly 40 years at Jahangirnagar University, Dhaka, Bangladesh. His specialization has been in the areas of drama with focus on Shakespeare and Modern European theatre. He consciously, carefully and painstakingly deviated from the traditional classroom pedagogical practices and brought in the claims of theatre studies in the learning and understanding of the dramatic texts. He tried to ensure sharing of responses of the students in the performative presentation of the contents in terms of innovating and improvising the story lines in diverse contextualizes. So, the elements of costume, set, music, light design and rewriting of texts in context-specific situations and transmission of local or even contemporary references without stepping into any subversive experimentation came into the reflective conversation within the classroom. Prof. used to name it as ‘applied drama’. Beyond that technique, students were asked to engage in some sort of creative writing in preparing different texts starting from the ends of the story lines. Translation and adaptation singularly or collectively by the students with thematic connections to the originals had been the regular exercises in the classrooms.

Interest in theatre was something which grew in Shafi Ahmed right from his childhood. He remembers directing and producing a play when he was in the seventh grade. He also acted in school productions. His love for theatre developed and intensified as he worked in a students’ group under the leadership of some teachers in Calcutta in 1964 that chronologically marked the 400 years of William Shakespeare’s birth. Intimacy with many in the Calcutta theatre circle in the sixties led to his extensive involvement in theatrical pursuits. Shafi Ahmed is an inquisitive and committed witness to the birth and developmentof new Bangla theatre in Dacca as Bangladesh emerged as a free nation in 1971. He started writing theatre reviews regularly in the newspapers and journals. He is a member of International Theatre Institute, Bangladesh Centre since its birth and has been continually involved in all its activities. He has edited more than 20 publications of Bangladesh ITI. He was the chief coordinator of three international events on Henrik Ibsen that took place in Dhaka under the auspices of Centre for Asian Theatre. He has been on the Board of Executive Committee of International University Theatre Association for two consecutive terms. Prof. Shafi Ahmed has translated 3 English plays into Bangla. He has to his credit four books on theatre. Prof. Shafi Ahmed has visited several countries of Asia and Europe to take part in different seminars, workshops and conferencesmany of which are related to theatre.

Publications(Eleven books which include among others):

  • A collection of articles on literature, society and culture, 1884
  • A research work on Shakespeare’s reception in Bangladesh right from the colonial period and his impact on Bengali drama and theatre, 1988
  • A brief introduction to Shakespeare’s female characters, 1995
  • Bengali translations of two plays, one by T S Eliot and the other by Wole Soyinka, (1985 & 1993)
  • One volume of short stories by Latin American women writers translated in Bengali, 1997
  • A collection of articles on selected major dramatists (which include one that seeks to locate Ibsen’s influence on Rabindranath Tagore), 1998
  • Edited a special volume titled Ibsen through Contemporary Eyes, a collection of the articles presented in the International Ibsen Conference, Dhaka, 1997
  • Edited two volumes of the Proceedings of International Ibsen Conferences (1997 & 2009) organized by Centre for Asian Theatre held in Dhaka, Bangladesh
  • Edited a collection of essays titled Women in Theatre, 1999
  • Edited more than 20 booklets, souvenir and proceedings of International Theatre Institute, Bangladesh

Participation in Seminars and Conferences:

Have participated in many national and international seminars. Mention may be made of:

  • International Theatre Congress of International Theatre Institute (UNESCO), Athens, Greece, 2002
  • SAARC Writers’ Forum, New Delhi, 2005
  • Seminar of International Shakespeare Society, Kurukshetra, India
  • International Seminar on Henrik Ibsen, Kathmandu, 2006
  • International Theatre Congress of International Theatre Institute (UNESCO), Manila, 2006
  • Seminar on Regional Exchanges in Theatre Practices organized by the Asia-Pacific Forum on International Theatre Institute, Seoul, South Korea, 2007
  • International Ibsen Theatre Festival, Oslo, 2008
  • Congress & Seminar: International University Theatre Association, Leicester, UK, 2009
  • Seminar of SAARC Foundation of Writers & Arts, New Delhi, 2009
  • International Seminar on Ibsen Across Cultures, Fudan University, Sanghai, China, 2010
  • International Seminar on Theatre Unites: Theories and Practice organized by IUTA, Manila, 2010
  • International Theatre Congress, Xiamen, China, 2011
  • Conference of International University Theatre Association, Minsk, Belarus, 2011
  • International Ibsen Seminar & Conference, Tromso, Norway, 2012
  • International Seminar on Ibsen’s Peer Gynt, Hyderabad, India, 2015


  • Life Member, Bangla Academy
  • Vice-President, Theatre Education & Training Committee of International TheatreInstitute (UNESCO)
  • Member, International University Theatre Association
  • Member, Apex Body, (Delhi-based) SAARC Foundation of Writers and Arts



Published by BotTala - a performance space

Theatre Technology, Aesthetics and Language through Action. It is an open space for performance that symbolizes the origin of rituals and performances in pre colonial Bengal. BotTala also signifies the great tradition of open oratory, poetry, music of Bengal and symbol of public space that belongs to none in specific but to all in general. BotTala as a performance space of twenty first century aspires to provide such an open platform to all theatre activists home and abroad to engage in their creative and intellectual endeavours. We, despite all odds, dream for a space promoting theatre for people, to search for tradition and heritage to speak up for the present and future. We also believe that there is no theatre estranged from politics and as such no politics detached from theatre of the colonial east. Therefore, BotTala’s theatre can never be removed from its base in history and tradition of Humanity as well as its vision for a changed tomorrow challenging authority in today’s theatre. As such, BotTala intend to encourage a space for professional theatre activism, which entails professional attitudes and behaviour in present forms of theatre and activism. BotTala calls for participation from all spheres of cultural activists and citizenry of the global village to engage, encourage, promote and support a new era in theatre activism and towards creating a new phase of cultural solidarity through BotTola.