Sabitri Heisnam

Born in 1946 in Mayang Imphal, Manipur, Shrimati Sabitri Heisnam received her early training in the traditional Manipuri opera from her aunt Shrimati Gouramani Devi, a leading actress of the post-war period. She was a phenomenal success as a child actress in the role of Nimai in Nimai Sanyas (1955), a play which had over a thousand shows. Subsequently she played major roles in productions of Aryan Theatre, Imphal, and the Student Artistes’ Association. Shrimati Sabitri Heisnam’s career entered a new phase with the establishment in 1969 of the theatre group Kalakshetra by her husband H. Kanhailal, who was himself honoured with a Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1985. In the past two decades she has moved towards an original acting style for contem- porary theatre utilizing the varied resources of traditional Manipuri performance. Some of her notable roles have been Lukhrabi in Tamnalai ( 1972), Pebet Mama in Pebet (1975), and Mi in Memoirs of Africa. Among the best-known figures in Manipuri theatre, Shrimati Sabitri Heisnam has acted in some 80 plays so far. She received the Manipur State Kala Akademi Award for acting in 1988 and the Best Actress award at the third International Festival for Experimental Theatre, Cairo, in 1991. Shrimati Sabitri Heisnam receives the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for her contribu- tion to theatre as an actress.