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The Lehman Trilogy: An extraordinary feat of storytelling

WEST END RETURN OF THE TONY AWARD®-WINNING, THE LEHMAN TRILOGY, IS NOW PLAYING AT THE GILLIAN LYNNE THEATRE UNTIL 20 MAY 2023 and is an exceptional and gripping theatre production – writes columnist Riccha Grrover for Asian Lite International

The National Theatre and Neal Street Productions’ critically acclaimed, five-time Tony Award® winning production of The Lehman Trilogy has returned to London. The strictly limited 17-week run has begun performances at the Gillian Lynne Theatre. Michael Balogun, Hadley Fraser and Nigel Lindsay are playing the Lehman brothers, and a cast of characters including their sons and grandsons. They are joined by pianist, Yshani Perinpanayagam.

Returning to perform the roles of Janitor and understudy is Ravi Aujla, with Will Harrison-Wallace and Leighton Pugh also returning to their understudy roles. Erika Gundesen is the understudy pianist.

Written by Stefano Massini, adapted by Ben Power and directed by multi-award-winning director, Sam Mendes with set design by Es Devlin, The Lehman Trilogy is an extraordinary feat of storytelling told in three parts on a single evening.

On a cold September morning in 1844, a young man from Bavaria stands on a New York dockside dreaming of a new life in the new world. He is joined by his two brothers, and an American epic begins. 163 years later, the firm they establish – Lehman Brothers – spectacularly collapses into bankruptcy, triggering the largest financial crisis in history. 

Weaving together nearly two centuries of family history, The Lehman Trilogy charts the humble beginnings, outrageous successes, and devastating failure of the financial institution that would ultimately bring the global economy to its knees.

The production is a masterwork, keeps one at the edge of the seat and keeps one gripped with its power packed performances, great set design, engrossing music score, captivating lighting and spectacular storytelling, it’s a must watch play. Highly recommended and columnist rating all 5 stars! 

Mendes is joined by set designer, Es Devlin; costume designer, Katrina Lindsay; video designer, Luke Halls; lighting designer Jon Clark; composer and sound designer, Nick Powell; co-sound designer, Dominic Bilkey; music director, Candida Caldicot; movement director, Polly Bennett and West End director, Zoé Ford Burnett. Company voice work is by Charmian Hoare with casting by Jessica Ronane CDG. They are joined by associate director, Rory McGregor; associate casting director Abby Galvin, associate designer, Amalie White, associate video designer, Zakk Hein and associate lighting designer, Charlotte Burton.

The Lehman Trilogy was the most awarded play on Broadway in 2022, winning Best Play, Best Director, Best Set Design, Best Lighting Design and Best Actor at the Tony Awards®. It also won the Drama League Award for Best Play and six Outer Critics Circle Awards, including Best Play.

First commissioned by Neal Street Productions and developed and co-produced with the National Theatre at the Lyttelton theatre in 2018, followed by an acclaimed sold-out run at the Park Avenue Armory in the Spring of 2019, 

The Lehman Trilogy returned to London for a 16-week sold-out run at the Piccadilly Theatre in the West End from May until August 2019. Following Broadway’s 18-month shutdown, The Lehman Trilogy was the first British play to return to Broadway — where it had previously played four performances in March 2020 — for a much-lauded limited engagement at the Nederlander Theatre from September 2021 until January 2022. A Los Angeles transfer to Center Theatre Group’s Ahmanson Theatre followed from March until April 2022.

Prior to this, the world premiere of Stefano Massini’s The Lehman Trilogy opened at the Piccolo Teatro in Milan in 2015. It turned out to be Artistic Director Luca Ronconi’s final production before his death. A long- term admirer of Ronconi’s, Sam Mendes was inspired to begin planning an English adaptation for Neal Street Productions. Ben Power was commissioned by Neal Street Productions to create a new version of this epic play, using a literal English translation by Mirella Cheeseman.

The Lehman Trilogy in the West End is supported by American Express, the National Theatre’s Preferred Card Partner.

National Theatre

The National Theatre’s mission is to make world-class theatre, for everyone. The NT creates and shares unforgettable stories with audiences across the UK and around the world. On its own stages, on tour, in schools, on cinema screens and streaming at home, it strives to be accessible, inclusive and sustainable. The National Theatre empowers artists and craftspeople to make world-leading work, investing in talent and developing new productions with a wide range of theatre companies at its New Work Department.

Neal Street Productions

Neal Street Productions is one of the UK’s most respected production companies, producing award-winning film, television and theatre. Founded 2003 by Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris and Caro Newling, it makes distinctive, popular, award-winning projects on both sides of the Atlantic.

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‘The first experience in Mumbai had been traumatic’

In many ways, the film ‘Gulaal’ ‘belonged’ to Piyush Mishra, further cementing his fan base, not just among those who had seen him on stage, but also the younger generation…writes Sukant Deepak

He may have stunned the entire theatre fraternity with the portrayal of Hamlet in the Shakespearean tragedy as a student at the National School of Drama (NSD) and later with his solo performances ‘An Evening with Piyush Mishra’. But for decades, the character’s ghost never left the actor — entering his personal space and clawing up to his very being.

“You cannot imagine the adulteration. A certain arrogance, complete self-indulgence, alcoholism… in my mind, I was the solo actor on life’s stage and everybody else was not supposed to take their eyes off my brilliance. Yes, I committed many mistakes. Confessing them was traumatic, but also cathartic,” he tells, with just the right dramatic pauses.

Mishra, the superstar of Delhi stage with a cult following during his time where he worked with theatre directors like N.K. Shar and Arvind Gaur, and also wrote the play ‘Hamlet Bombay Nahin Jayega’, besides ‘Gagan Damama Bajyo’ , shifted to Mumbai to start life again after the age of 40, and his recently released book ‘Tumhari Aukat Kya Hai’, published by Rajkamal Prakashan Samuh traces not just his artistic journey but also reinvention.

“The first experience in Mumbai had been traumatic. It left me broken on many levels, but by the second one, I had emerged from the image I had created in my own eyes. This Piyush was now a more open person, a hint of spirituality had entered his life, and he did not dismiss new experiences. He had left the artistic arrogance in the green room and realised he was not the only one on stage now,” Mishra says.

He adds that writing the book as an autobiography was utterly boring. Thus, he decided to work on it as a novel and changed names. “Ninety per cent of what you will read is factual. Of course, anyone familiar with theatre and cinema circles will know who I am talking about even though names have been changed.”

Talking about his meeting with filmmaker Anurag Kashyap, who used to watch him rehearse and perform as a student in Delhi, Mishra recalls calling him after watching ‘Shool’ (1999) to praise the film’s script. “He was tongue-tied. He used to admire my work back in Delhi. Kashyap invited me to his office where a few music directors were sitting — trying to sell their songs for ‘Gulaal’ (2009). I just could not listen to the horrible numbers they were pitching, snatched the harmonium, and started singing the ones I had composed during my theatre days. Anurag’s smile said it all,” he recalls.

In many ways, the film ‘Gulaal’ ‘belonged’ to Piyush Mishra, further cementing his fan base, not just among those who had seen him on stage, but also the younger generation.

While the book narrates his life experiences, his internal journey, and how he reinvented himself — a very important and ‘quiet’ character is his wife Priya. The School of Planning and Architecture (SPA) pass-out who fell in love with his poetry, saw the star rising, falling, and rising again. “She is the one who held everything together. During my Delhi days, I would leave home for rehearsals at 6 am and come back at 11 pm — and often drunk. The woman deserves a prize for putting up with someone like me.”

An actor, writer, lyricist, and singer, who can casually say – “I am gifted, not talented”, and get away with it makes it clear that he does cinema only to make money. “It is a profession, and it ends there. I realized long back that just following passion madly does not make anyone otherworldly, just leaves him broken — on every front. I still do theatre and have my music band — they keep life interesting.”

Mishra is quite happy with the reception his band ‘Ballimaaran’ has been receiving across the country. “We have been able to tap into the energies of the young — they are open to new music and experiments. I am thoroughly enjoying myself.”

Stressing there is no killer ambition anymore, he adds, “I have worked in some good movies, written songs, done excellent theatre and now travelling with my band. Yes, I would like to direct a film one day if I get a good script. Rest… life is alright, I can sleep well.”

As the conversation veers towards extreme trolling and calls for banning some films by a section of the right wing, Mishra says it is best to ignore to them. “Frankly, I do not think they should even be acknowledged. Of course, this does not mean that one is apolitical. We all have to choose a side ultimately.”

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‘Energy and magic of theatre can’t be replicated’

What is special about the sixth season is the fact that Aadyam crosses the ‘Mumbai barrier’ and has included plays, actors and directors from other regions as well…writes Sukant Deepak

Back on stage after two years of hiatus owing to the pandemic, the sixth season of Aadyam Theatre, an initiative by the Aditya Birla Group, boasts of a mix of the proscenium and experimental shows that will be performed in both Mumbai and Delhi. This is besides several new theatre-centric activities, housed under ‘Aadyam Spotlight’, such as theatre podcasts, workshops, a theatre club, and an exclusive theatre blog.

“It feels brilliant to be back again to physical theatre. Frankly, it’s like we are breathing anew,” smiles Shernaz Patel, Artistic Director (along with Nadir Khan) of Aadyam Theatre, who believes that digital theatre born during the pandemic in India, though gave an opportunity to perform or create but was mostly consumed by the theatre community.

“Theatre is a live medium and its energy and magic just cannot be replicated on the computer screen,” she asserts.

What is special about the sixth season is the fact that Aadyam crosses the ‘Mumbai barrier’ and has included plays, actors and directors from other regions as well.

With stress on work that appeals to a larger audience, the curation committee comprising Kyla Dsouza, Purva Naresh, Ira Dubey and Patel was looking for multiple genres, diverse themes and different styles to make the season stand out.

“We have urban and rural stories, musicals… for us it had always been important to have solid themes handled by visionary directors, something that makes this season extremely well-rounded,” she says.

Talk to Patel about the fact that the few corporates funding theatre limit themselves to groups, mostly in Mumbai and she admits it is tough to get them on board at the developmental level.

“I honestly feel that it is the government that needs to step in, just like we see in the West. The corporate sector is already doing enough for other areas through its CSR activities. For grassroots work, developmental work, supporting young, new theatre talent and experimentation… it is the government that needs to do the needful.”

While one witnesses several emerging writers in prose in India, actor and director feels that there are not many emerging voices when it comes to writing for theatre, though an award like the annual Sultan Padamsee Playwriting Award gets over a hundred entries each year.

“Let us not forget that there is no money in this medium. So if a person really knows the craft of dialogue writing, he will go to films or television. Young playwrights do emerge from time to time, but then life takes over. When we talk about modern Indian writing, we are still referring to what was written three generations before. Should it not be by writers who are in their twenties?” says Patel, who finished shooting for an OTT show in November.

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NCPA presents a fantastic line-up for upcoming months

Home is a film about Fulmani, a resident tea plantation worker, and her impending retirement. In order to keep her home after she retires, Fulmani must send her daughter Aarti to take her place at the plantation…reports Asian Lite News

It’s an exciting time since the spotlight is now shining brightly on the performers on stage. The NCPA produces, performs, and hosts world-class theatrical productions that delight, challenge, and inspire. And the stage is abuzz with a fantastic line-up of presentations.

Coming up in February:

Reality Check (The Show Must Go On) I An NCPA Presentation in collaboration with Cinema Collective

The NCPA has revived the Reality Check?film?series, which was started in 2014, to promote and encourage documentary filmmakers in India, whose work reflects life and culture in the country today in a provocative blend of creativity and integrity.

After decades of dormancy, the aging icons of Parsi theatre return to the stage, putting aside their walking sticks and wheelchairs. Plunging into rehearsals, this documentary chronicles the resilience of a singular cast of characters that want nothing more than to go out with a bang. For most of them, it will be the last time on stage after careers spanning over half a century. As the film tumbles headfirst into the creative chaos of rehearsals, we get an intimate portrait of the bonds shared between veteran stars and youngsters, along with a distinct flavor of their sensibilities, marked by a particular brand of not-so-subtle humor that is uniquely their own. The actors want to put up the best show they can. In a way, this film is also very much about celebrating old age. About how people considered well past their prime, still have so much to give, while being their flawed and joyous selves. A great tragedy befalls the cast on the eve of the final show. Will it change everything? Or will the show go on, despite all odds?

Date – Friday, February 3

Time – 5.00 p.m. and 7.30 p.m. (Followed by a discussion)

Venue – Godrej Dance Theatre, NCPA

Tickets – Free Entry, on a first come first serve basis

Documentary Film Screening| English, Hindi & Gujarati | 60 mins

Lavanyavati (Premiere Show in Mumbai) I An NCPA Presentation in collaboration with Kali Billi Productions

Lavanyavati is a performance devised in collaboration with Lavani and Tamasha artists. In this performance, we follow the journey of Lavani through the years. The dance form, which is part of Maharashtra’s folk tradition, has evolved over time with changes in social, political, and cultural developments as well as changing audience preferences. It has not just survived but thrived through these changing times and has become a part of contemporary cultural identity. Starting from the traditional form of Tamasha and Sangeet Bari performed mainly in rural areas and smaller towns of Maharashtra, it has also reached audiences in metro cities like Mumbai.

Exploring the meaning of Lavanyavati (one who performs Lavani), we start our journey from the early 1800s till today. In this performance, we look at Lavani and Lavanyavati through the lens of legacy, gender, and modern feminism.

The performance is devised in the form of documentary theatre. Along with live performances of Lavani songs, we share stories, archival material like family photographs, video interviews, and contemporary works like our collaboration with the Agents of Ishq and Paromita Vohra.

Dance Performance in Documentary Theatre |Marathi, English| 90 mins

Date – Saturday, February 4

Time – 5.00 p.m. & 7.30 p.m.

Venue – Experimental Theatre, NCPA

Tickets – Book Here

Dekh Behen (99th & 100th Show) I An NCPA Presentation in collaboration with Akvarious Productions

A big fat Delhi wedding is underway. Merely hours before they need to put up their rehearsed item number, five bridesmaids catch up, gossip, eat, drink and bitch about their identical outfits. But that is not the only thing they have in common. They all dislike the bride. Akvarious Productions presents an all-female cast and crew in a bittersweet comedy about daughters, girlfriends, mothers, sisters, and wives, and getting through one wretched shaadi ka function.

English/Hindi Play | 100th Show| 18+| 70 mins

Date – Sunday, February 5

Time – 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m.

Venue – Experimental Theatre, NCPA

Tickets – Book Here

One Week And A Day I The Indian Express Film Club screening in association with NCPA & Embassy of Israel

One week and a day is a bittersweet drama about families, neighbors, and the glue that keeps people together. A grieving father steals medicinal marijuana from a hospice, skips work, and hangs out with his estranged neighbor’s son, while his wife tries to get back to her daily routine as she fights off school teachers, stray kittens, and dental clinic workers.

Hebrew Language with English Subtitles | 98 mins

Date – Tuesday, February 7

Time – 6.30 p.m. (Followed by a discussion)

Venue – Godrej Dance Theatre, NCPA

Tickets – Free Entry, on a first come first serve basis

The film screening will be followed by a discussion with Shubhra Gupta, Film Critic, and The Indian Express.

The Book Of Dust I An NCPA National Theatre Live (London) Presentation

Elevator pitch: Set 12 years before the epic His Dark Materials trilogy, this gripping adaptation revisits Phillip Pullman’s fantastical world in which waters are rising and storms are brewing. Two young people and their demons, with everything at stake, find themselves at the center of a terrifying manhunt. In their care is a tiny child called Lyra Belacqua, and in that child lies the fate of the future.

Screening | English | 3hrs | 6yrs+ Date – Wednesday, February 8

Time – 6:00 pm

Venue – Dance Theatre Godrej, NCPA

Tickets – Book Here

Comedy for Comedy’s Sake I An NCPA-Off Stage Presentation in collaboration with Comedy Ladder

Valentine’s Day is for Love but also for broken hearts. A breakup is part of life, and if you haven’t had your heart broken, this is a great place to learn how it may happen and how to deal with a broken heart. Come and watch some very funny comics talk about their past relationships and share their experience.

Comedy | English, Hindi | 16yrs + | 1hr 30mins

Date – Tuesday, February 14

Time – 7.00 pm

Venue – Dance Theatre Godrej, NCPA

Tickets – Book Here

Readings In The Shed – Letters of Love I An NCPA Off-Stage Presentation?

When was the last time you wrote a love letter? Or penned a quick note to your beloved? In these times of beeps and pings, ink and pen messages seem to be losing their relevance. Until you come across an old trunk or a shoebox, scoot the dust bunnies off, that is. And lo and behold, they emerge…on yellowed paper and in faded ink, words that are, or deserve to be, immortal. Join us as we dig through the archives of some famous folk to uncover love stories that have lived on. Readings in the Shed presents the fifth edition of Letters of Love?

Storytelling | English, Hindi | 2hrs

Date – Tuesday, February 14

Time – 7.00 p.m.

Venue – Tata Garden, NCPA

Tickets – Book Here

Aurat Aurat Aurat I An NCPA Presentation in collaboration with Motley Productions

An all-female cast enacts selections from Ismat Chughtai’s autobiography, and three other writings (Ek Shauhar ki Khaatir, Aadhi Aurat Aadha Khwab, and Soney ka Anda) which are essays rather than stories, reflecting Chughtai’s abiding concern for the state of womanhood, her impatience with empty rituals and her anger at the condescension women are subjected to.

Drama| English, Hindi| 2hrs | 12yrs

Date – Saturday, February 18

Time – 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Venue – Experimental Theatre, NCPA

Tickets – Book Here

Bhagi Hui Ladkiyan (Theatre Group from Delhi) I An NCPA Presentation in collaboration with Aagaaz Productions

The play explores the actors’ gendered bodies and their relationship with the self, others, and public spaces-the piece uses objects, physical theatre, and cartography to devise a thought-provoking experience.

These stories begin on a random day. These are first-hand retellings of day-today in Nizamuddin Basti. The spectator is invited to enter the performer’s world through the everydayness of the narrative. The stories begin to twist into tales of how gender and sexuality play out in the lives of the four actors. Conversations about family, trust, consent, personal space, and gender dynamics begin to surface. Their questions and confusions about their identity and how they are perceived within the boundaries of their home and their community, come forth through their words and actions.

The play attempts to highlight the contrast between the confining yet comfortable quality of the home space and the liberating aspects of the outside world. The differences between ‘who I am’ and ‘how people see me’ guide the explorations that the performers embark on. The audience is invited to experience the happenings through a gender-sensitive lens.

Drama | Hindustani | 1hr 5mins | 13yrs+

Date – Sunday, February 19

Time – 7 p.m.

Venue – Experimental Theatre, NCPA

Tickets – Book Here

Taking Sides I NCPA Presents the Company Theatre production

The play is set in post-World War II Germany, during the period of ‘denazification’. While on the surface the play is about the investigation of a world-famous music conductor of that time-Wilhelm Furtwangler-it takes on larger discussions and motifs spanning music, art, culture, life, politics, morality, ethics, and more.

Drama | English | 2hrs 5mins Date – Saturday, February 25

Time – 5.00 p.m. & 8.00 p.m.

Venue – Experimental Theatre, NCPA

Tickets – Book Here

Short Film Corner I An NCPA Presentation in collaboration with White Wall Screenings

Home I Hindi film with English subtitles (13 mins)

Home is a film about Fulmani, a resident tea plantation worker, and her impending retirement. In order to keep her home after she retires, Fulmani must send her daughter Aarti to take her place at the plantation. But this decision comes at the cost of her daughter’s future, which she had hoped to protect from an exploitative and back-breaking labor system.

Home 2 I Hindi film with English Subtitles (12 minutes)

One afternoon, 7-year-old Inaya is suddenly unable to recognize her own parents and starts feeling like a captive in her home. Her parents call the therapist to uncover the mystery of what happened to their child.

Soul-Kadhi I Hindi film with English subtitles (13 mins)

In the upside-down realm of the night, an orphan daughter-in-law and her mother-in-law develop an uncanny bond. Secrets are spilled, recipes shared and late-night thoughts exchanged that will set them free…literally.

Date – Friday, February 24

Time – 6.30 p.m.

Venue – Little Theatre, NCPA

Tickets – Free Entry, on a first come first serve basis

NCPA’s Indian Music Line up for February

The NCPA embraces all the major strands of Indian music and continues to feature a wide spectrum of artistes – from up-and-coming to top-ranking and living legends. The range of genres is equally diverse – from pure classical, and semi-classical to devotional, light, regional, folk and cross-over music. The unique thematic element associated with each property makes it exclusive. Over the past decade, NCPA’s thematically curated Indian music festivals have been appreciated by artistes as well as audiences worldwide.

Coming up in February:

L. Subramaniam

Sama’a : The Mystical Ecstasy

Festival of Sufi Music (4 events)

Rangreza: a musical presentation based on Sufi poetry

When: Friday, February 10, 6.30 p.m.

Where: Experimental Theatre, NCPA

Tickets: Book My Show

Concept & narration: Suhail Akhtar Warsi

Singers: Girish Sadhwani and Pooja Gaitonde

About the performance: The pain of separation from the Creator is at the core of Sufi lyrics and music. Themes and styles established in Arabic, Persian and Punjabi-Sindhi poetry have had an enormous influence on poetry and music throughout the Sufi world. While saint-philosophers like Rumi, Lal Dedh, Kabir and others, have fervently expressed their love and longing for the Divine through their poetry, we find similar thoughts also being echoed in works of others like Mir, Ghalib, Tukaram, Rabindranath Tagore, Swami Vivekananda, Chaitanya Mahaprabhu and many Bhakti poets across ages in numerous languages.

Rangreza portrays hues of the ultimate truth as revealed by numerous philosophers from Amir Khusrau, Baba Bulle Shah and Meera Bai, to Guru Nanak, Shahbaz Qalandar and such others who wrote in various dialects such as Awadhi, Saraiki, Behawalpuri, Multani, Hindustani, Hindavi and Punjabi.

In a style that has a harmonious blend of traditional and contemporary musical elements, the presentation will showcase the similarity of thoughts underlying the diverse poetic works, highlighting the universality of the truth.

Ovi Ovi Gumphali

An Ode to Rumi: Presentation based on the Poetry of Mevlana Rumi by Kabir Bedi

When: Saturday, February 11, 6.30 p.m.

Where: Experimental Theatre, NCPA

Tickets: Book My Show

Concept & design: Jai and Taru Talwar

About the performance: Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Balkhi (1207-1273), popularly known as Mevlana Rumi, was a 13th-century Persian poet, jurist, theologian and Sufi mystic who composed one of the crowning glories of Persian literature, which profoundly affected the Persian cultural sphere of Khorasan.

Although originally written in Persian, Rumi’s poems have been widely translated into many international languages including Urdu and Punjabi. Rumi’s works transcend national and ethnic borders and seem to be relevant even today across varied cultures.

Blessed with a sonorous voice, Kabir Bedi, one of India’s best-known international actors, will read a selection of poetry penned by Rumi.

The presentation will be divided into five parts: The Seeker, Finding Love, Tasting the Divine, The Awakening and Union with the Divine.

Suhail Akhtar Warsi & Pooja Gaitonde

Rumiyana: a journey within

Presented by The Ishara Puppet Theatre Trust

When: Sunday, February 12, 3.30 p.m. & 5.30 p.m.

Where: Experimental Theatre, NCPA

Tickets: Book My Show

Direction & design: Dadi D. Pudumjee

Text & animation: Shaaz Ahmed

Music: Sandeep Pillai

Language: English

Duration: 60 mins

About the performance: Rumiyana is a multimedia musical puppet theatre performance based on Mevlana Rumi’s work, Masnavi, whose influence transcends national borders and unites people of all races, nationality, and gender across the globe, owing to the universality of his thoughts.

Enacted by two performers, the master and the student, the performance is synergised with dancers, puppeteers and visual theatre with specially composed music.

The dialogue of the story which is narrated at the threshold of a door unfolds a journey within, to unravel the path outside. Four stories emerge out of a single narrative to tell a tale of seeking and receiving, from being the light to spreading light to shining bright – the Unity of vision.

The presentation with animations and projections explores the concept of pluralism, and unity of all existence, as one. It uses the metaphors of soul, body, and shadow to realise the idea of the true self. It promotes unity, love, and peace, by the celebration of diversity, for there are, as many ways as there are seekers.

Raga Rang – Parthiv Gohil

Within: songs of the sacred

By Sonam Kalra & The Sufi Gospel Project

When: Sunday, February 12, 7.30 p.m.

Where: Tata Theatre, NCPA

Tickets: Book My Show

About the performance: Delve into a deeper understanding of the true meaning of Sufism as Sonam Kalra, a multifaceted singer and composer, seeks to blend the many voices of faith, through poetry, prayer and music to create one universal voice of faith.

In this presentation, prayer and poetry from different languages and religions come together to create a sound that touches every soul. The mystic poetry of Sufi poets like Kabir, Bulleh Shah, Amir Khusrau and Zaheen Shah Tajji are presented to highlight the one absolute truth; that God is within. Where the call to Allah finds resonance in the ever-soothing Sikh morning prayer and Vedic chants, where the poetry and ideologies of Sufi mystics from across the world find common ground across time and region, and where Indian classical sounds seamlessly flow into the Western accompaniment.

Thus, the lines between religions are blurred through the beauty of note and music, revealing that no matter what the language of the lyrics or the ethnicity of the sounds, there is but one language, the language of faith.

And that is the universal truth.

Ovi Ovi Gumphali: Celebrating Marathi Language Day

An NCPA Presentation In association with the Directorate of Cultural Affairs, Government of Maharashtra

Concept & Presentation: Dhanashree Lele

Supported by Preeti Joshi, Deepti Joshi

Music Arrangement: Vikram Muzumdar

When: Friday, February 24, 6.30 p.m.

Where: Experimental Theatre, NCPA

(Event to be presented in Marathi)

Entry – Free on a first come first served basis

Sonam Kalra

About the performance: Marathi, like many other languages, is endowed with a rich vocabulary. Oral tradition associated with it also shows a wealth of literary forms. Ovi is one such form used as a medium of expression, mainly by the so-called “illiterate” women folk while they engaged in the drudgery of household chores. Couched with the most appropriate words capable of expressing finer shades of emotions, the verses of ovi are meant to unequivocally state the Universal truth in the simplest manner. Moreover, plain yet sonorous tunes to which they are set, make a mesmerising impact on listeners. Today, while many Marathi words are going out of vogue from colloquial usage, the ovi literature seems to still retain some priceless age-old expressions.

Dhanashree Lele is an impressive orator, award-winning author, scriptwriter and multilingual compere renowned for her scholarship in Sanskrit literature and spiritual subjects.

Organised on the occasion of Marathi bhasha divas, this event aims to showcase a range of literary forms from the oral tradition of Maharashtra. Besides presenting some ovis with their original tunes, the event will also feature allied forms like bhav geet, bhakti geet etc., including a few that have been used in Marathi films.

Raga Rang: Raga-based songs from Hindi films of yesteryears

Parthiv Gohil & group

In association with Sahachari Foundation Events

When: Saturday, February 25, 6.30 p.m.

Where: Tata Theatre

Tickets: Box office opens on 29th of January, 2023

About the performance: This thematic presentation showcases gems of poetry and musical works featured in old Hindi films that are based on classical ragas and raginis. These timeless melodies continue to enthral listeners even today.

Having trained with several reputed masters like Laxmipati Shukla and Zia Fariduddin Dagar, Parthiv Gohil went on to become a playback singer performing for a host of films like Devdas, Saawariya, Vada Raha and others. His other projects include participation in the iconic song Phir mile sur mera tumhara and MTV performance with reputed artistes. Notable among the numerous awards received by Parthiv include best playback singer for the Gujarati films in 2007 & 2009. Parthiv and his group will present a special selection of geets and ghazals written by iconic lyricists and composed by legendary film music composers of the yester years.

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Arts & Culture Lite Blogs Theatre

Ishara int’l puppet theatre festival to kick off soon

At the Festival, Italy will showcase IL FIL’ARMONICO, which will be performed by Teatro Tages/Agostino Cacciabue/Rita Xaxa and directed by Agostino Cacciabue. The performance will present stories and comic vignettes, inspired by puppeteer Cacciabue’s own life…reports Asian Lite News

The Ishara International Puppet Theatre Festival is back for its 19th edition this year, and will take place from February 14 to 20 at the India Habitat Centre in the national capital, and February 13 to 16 at Tagore Theatre in Chandigarh. Produced by Teamwork Arts, it is largely supported by the Ishara Puppet Theatre Trust.

First launched in 2001, the International Puppet Festival brings together puppeteers, artists, and performers from around the globe to celebrate storytelling through puppetry. This year, it is set to showcase a diverse range of storylines and techniques.

Alongside puppeteers from India, there will be performers from countries, including Holland, Hungary, Italy and Korea. Festival Director and Founder of The Ishara Puppet Theatre Trust, Dadi D. Pudumjee said, “India’s longest-running puppet festival has returned after a gap of three years due to the pandemic. We are expecting to see those who want to enter the fantastic world of the willing suspension of disbelief. This year, there will be many puppet shows that will take you to a world of fantasy… for instance, India will present ‘Aisha’s Journey’, a performance that has been adapted from a Swedish children’s book.”

Sanjoy K. Roy, Managing Director, Teamwork Arts added, “The 19th Ishara International Puppet Festival brings together productions from India and abroad. Over the years, the Festival has created opportunities for training, storytelling and innovation, leading to a vibrant and contemporary language of puppetry in India.”

At the Festival, Italy will showcase IL FIL’ARMONICO, which will be performed by Teatro Tages/Agostino Cacciabue/Rita Xaxa and directed by Agostino Cacciabue. The performance will present stories and comic vignettes, inspired by puppeteer Cacciabue’s own life.

A Korean performance by Theatre Sangsahwa will present ‘Korea Puppet Fantasy’, directed by Bonsuk Kim. The performance will show Korea’s rich cultural heritage. Puppets, dance and music will blend together and pay homage to Korea’s past, present and future.

From Hungary, the Kamfor Musical Puppet Theatre will be presenting a performance titled ‘The Dragon and the Devil’, based on traditional Hungarian folktales. This performance will transport the audience to a spellbinding world full of magic, adventure, and mystery. In addition, the Netherlands will bring ‘Jan Klaassen, Katrijin and the Crown of King William Alexander’, performed and directed by Frans Hakkemars –straight from the land of the windmills and Van Gogh, it’s a unique celebration of Dutch culture.

More than a hundred international puppetry groups have already performed at the Festival. The list includes the US, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Turkey, Brazil, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Taiwan, Japan, Afghanistan, Sweden, Norway, Israel, Ireland, Iran and Australia.

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Artists back on stage with full glory

The play was a runner-up at the Sultan Padamsee Playwriting Awards 2016. Shikhandi was also awarded Best Play at the Laadli Media Awards 2017, and Best Ensemble and Best Supporting Actor (Female) at META 2018…reports N. LOTHUNGBENI HUMTSOE

It’s an exciting time as the spotlight is back and shining in its full glory with artists on stage. With a mix of live and screened events in a variety of languages, the NCPA is abuzz with a fantastic line-up of presentations.

The programme ranges from classic plays to new writing, physical theatre, musicals, live and streamed broadcasts, spoken word, classic cinema, and stand-up comedy, created and performed by the very best local, national and international artists.

This is a comic, tongue-in-cheek retelling of the story of Shikhandi. Mixing the traditional with the contemporary, the play questions maleness, femaleness, and everything in between. Shikhandi is perhaps one of the earliest trans characters known in mythology. Shikhandi was meant to be born male to avenge an insult in her past life as Amba. But the bigger karmic game unfolds when she is reborn as female, raised as male, has a sex change on her wedding night, thanks to a Yaksha, and finally fulfills her destiny to be the cause of Bhishma’s death.

The play was a runner-up at the Sultan Padamsee Playwriting Awards 2016. Shikhandi was also awarded Best Play at the Laadli Media Awards 2017, and Best Ensemble and Best Supporting Actor (Female) at META 2018.

English Play (with some Hindi – 90 mins)

Venue Experimental Theatre

Friday, December 2 – 7.30 p.m.

Sunday, December 3 – 5.00 pm & 7.30 p.m.

The play, based on a film that was adapted from Reginald Rose’s teleplay at the time, begins with an eighteen-year-old boy from a slum who is on trial for the murder of his abusive father. A jury of twelve people is locked in the deliberation room to decide the fate of the young boy. All evidence is against the boy and a guilty verdict would send him to the electric chair. But the judgment must be unanimous. Even before they begin a discussion, it is apparent that most of the jurors are certain the boy is guilty. While most jurors have already decided on the fate of the boy, one vote of not guilty opens Pandora’s box and a forced deliberation begins. Slowly, but surely, each member of the jury is forced to confront the facts on hand and open his/her mind to the possibilities that exist outside them and shine a light on the kind of person he/she actually is. Originally produced for Aadyam, an Aditya Birla Group Initiative, this production of Twelve Angry Jurors is presented by a special amateur license arrangement with Samuel French Ltd.

English Play (90 mins with Intervals)

Venue – Experimental Theatre

Sunday, December 4 – 5.00 p.m. & 8.00 p.m.

OCD is a light comedy about a carefree young man and his obsessed OCD-suffering servant. A kind of role reversal where the servant is after a master’s life to keep things neat, clean, and in order. And how in an effort to keep his master’s house in order the servant starts trying to cross boundaries and set his life in order by trying to control his relationship matters. The protagonist is a turbaned Rajasthani butler called OC chacha, who suffers from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Because of this, he is always striving to keep things ridiculously neat and tidy, which makes him the ideal domestic help on paper.

But that’s not always the case, especially when his idiosyncrasies get in the way of his master Rohan’s lifestyle and eventually relationships. For instance, he believes the furniture in the house should only be arranged at particular angles, doesn’t like even numbers, and is convinced that one should stay away from women because nothing good can come out of associating with the fairer sex! But since OC chacha has been a part of Rohan’s family for years and is an almost treasured heirloom, it is difficult for Rohan to get rid of him.

The play is a funny take on human eccentricities wherein every individual in this world has some or the other quirky habit but he or she feels that the other person is weird and anyone who does not adhere to majority norms is considered a freak. We all want to love and be loved but are afraid of commitments and are insecure about love, life, and everything around us. The play delves into this psyche of human nature.

English and Hindi play (100 mins)

Venue – Godrej Dance Theatre

Saturday, December 10 – 5.00 pm

A theatre company decides to do a play on international woman’s day. The subject decided by the director creates discomfort among the actors. The play evokes laughter at the hypocrisy! A- 2 act play is a compelling watch for all, above 18.

Hindi play (120 mins)

Venue – Experimental Theatre

Saturday, December 10 – 7.30 pm

A world premiere of contemporary dance based on Kathak is going to be performed solo by Aditi Mangaldas called FORBIDDEN on December 4, 2022. The event is commissioned by Aditi Mangaldas Dance Company – The Drishtikon Dance Foundation & co-commissioned by National Centre for the Performing Arts, Mumbai Sadler’s Wells, London.

Female sexuality is private, but still, the taboos around it need and demand that we take a stand on universal, public, and personal grounds. History demonstrates a fundamental disdain for female sexual desire. Why are women across the world, in both conservative and liberal nations, sanctioned, assessed, controlled, persecuted, shamed, and eventually punished for having the courage to embrace their desire? Here is a creative expression- FORBIDDEN which has been released after months of internalization, debate, troughs, and peaks as each collaborator offered nuance to the work. The concept, dance, and choreography are by Aditi Mangaldas.

Venue: Jamshed Bhabha Theatre

Date & Time: December 4 2022 | 6:00 pm

Price: Member Price- Rs.630, 450 & 270/- (Inclusive of GST)

Non-Member Price- Rs.700, 500 & 300/- (Inclusive of GST)

Duration: 75 minutes

Age Limit: 18+

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Peter Brook’s death like the end of an era

Performing Shakespeare under a circus tent with a trapeze artiste swinging wildly in ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ was his much celebrated production, making him the new creative voice in British theatre…writes Neelam Mansingh

“I can take any empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across the empty space whilst someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged,” wrote Peter Brook famously in his book ‘Empty Space’. A book that most theatre directors and actors hold close to their heart.

This book has single handedly played a huge role in shaping attitudes, approaches, concepts, vocabularies and in making the ‘invisible visible’, cutting across physical boundaries and cultural references.

A lighthouse of profound ideas, he shared with us, a new way of looking at text, space and body. Stripping it of the superficial, the extraneous and getting to the bone of the matter. “He is,” said Sir Barry Jackson, the producer for whom Brook first worked, “the youngest earthquake I know.” His actors talk about needing an oxygen tent after his rehearsals.

He has been described in various ways, one adjective contradicting the other, but all equally valid. From being called a madman to a genius, an abrasive intellectual to an extraordinary showman, myths circulate around him, crystalised and made epic, by his extraordinary talent and his constant desire for change.

His life is as fascinating as his work. Born in London in 1925, the son of a Russian emigrant chemist, his parents were penniless when they arrived in England, until his father invented Brooklax, a laxative. Due to the success of this pill the family became well-ensconced financially, leaving their penury-ridden existence behind.

Aware of his Russian ancestry, most people refused to accept Brook as a Russian surname, and were convinced that he was hiding his parentage. Many incidents of Brook leaving lucrative job offers due to an argument about his name, becoming a subject of inquiry and distrust, are part of the folklore that followed Brook.

Performing Shakespeare under a circus tent with a trapeze artiste swinging wildly in ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ was his much celebrated production, making him the new creative voice in British theatre.

Despite success, accolades and huge grants, he ran away from British Theatre and spent the next five decades of his career in Paris, working on a project that could be termed idiosyncratic. His project, ‘Conference of the Birds’, compiled in a book, shared experiences of taking his actors from the cocoon of living in Paris to the tumult, heat and dust of traversing a difficult and alien landscape in Africa.

His international group of actors were made to take this journey in an attempt to search for a new language of sound. To figure out if actors from different cultures and backgrounds could transcend the clogged urbanisation of city living and, through encounters and confrontations, bring a richer perception and quality to their lives.

I met Peter Brook in Bhopal at Bharat Bhavan in 1981, when he was touring India to identify actors, forms, images, colours and smells that could be fed into his production, based on the ‘Mahabharata’. Through this production, Brook sought to achieve universality and comprehensibility through images and gestures, stating that the ‘Mahabharata’ did not belong to one country or race but to humanity.

A workshop was organised at Bharat Bhavan, which included an overwhelming list of celebrated directors, local actors, dancers, musicians and observers. I was supposed to manage the logistics of the workshop and see to Brook’s comfort and well-being. What I noticed was a watchful man, with a gnomish appearance, short and stocky, dressed in lose denims, but the energy that flowed were like tiny bomb explosions.

An exercise was given, in which the directors, including Brook, had to choreograph the opening scene from Kalidasa’s ‘Shakuntalam’ — the first meeting of Dushyanta, the king, and the maiden Shakuntala.

Brook’s wife, the brilliant actress Natasha Parry, played Shakuntala without carrying the cultural baggage, memory or references to the character. Escaping the cliched performance templates that existed for characterising classical characters, Brook made us see through Parry’s Shakuntala a fresh avatar of the classical heroine.

Utterly alive, an animated being, a voluptuous spring of sexuality that one may never have associated with the image of Shakuntala, as we knew her from our Sanskrit theatre classes! His chapter on Deadly Theatre was understood practically!

During that visit, I was supposed to buy him a gift as a way of thanking him. But I had read that Peter Brook possesses three shirts, one suit and two pairs of jeans. His home has minimal furniture and no artifacts. A rootless man, actually nomadic is how he has been described. It was truly a dilemma to locate a gift for the spartan Brook!

He made the impossible possible by staging a nine-hour-long performance of the ‘Mahabharata’ in a stone quarry framed against a forest on the outskirts of Avignon.

Starting at sunset and ending with the sunrise was magical, where the two warring families with their arches taunt and a giant wheel rolling across the stage shows the great battle with cosmic grandeur. A clash of two great dynasties, locked in a moral fight of ideal heroes representing divine forces arrayed against demonic energies, creating a production of monumental dimension. This was in 1985.

Peter Brook’s death is like the end of an era, the loss of a revered figure. A formidable creative giant, a theorist, and definitely an anarchist, who tore into established ways of working by introducing something fresh, novel and experimental. He believed very deeply in the transformative power of theatre and his legacy will live on.

What one could only dream about was actualised by Brook, not one to be intimidated by the scale and vision of his own inspiration. It was the gift that he bequeathed to the world of theatre. Take risks, jump the cliff, let your vision swirl in a vertiginous precipice!

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India News London News Theatre

Ambivalence on Gandhi versus Godse in London play

Its sister paper on Sundays The Observer was not as enthusiastic. It said, “this is a first-person narrative, delivered with bias and embellishments”…reports Ashish Ray

A controversial play on the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi performed at the prestigious National Theatre in London has fared well at the box office and has even received praise in reviews in a section of the British press.

A spokeswoman for the National Theatre indicated the stage show had achieved a “a seated capacity of 80 per cent throughout the course of the run” since last month.

The main character in the production is not Gandhi, but his killer Nathuram Godse. The depiction unfolds into a portrayal of Gandhi versus Godse ideologies, leaving comment on them somewhat unanswered, unless the audience is expected to reach a conclusion from the cacophony of Godse’s role.

“Any dramatization of history requires a degree of imaginative licence of the playright,” argued the writer of the play Chennai-born Anupama Chandrasekhar in a note in the programme for the performance. That’s fair enough. She continued: “This is not to say that the play is primarily a work of fiction. Rather, I have used history as the frame within which I could track the trajectories of both Gandhi and Godse, and therefore, of India.”

Admittedly, not a great deal is known that widely about Godse compared to a universal figure like Gandhi. This is but natural. How can a school dropout, who worked briefly as a tailor’s assistant and was in Chandrasekhar’s words “a small-time party worker” of the Hindu Mahasabha and the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and then the assassin of the father of the Indian nation be of general curiosity other than his unspeakable crime?

Chandrasekhar described it as “this battle between the Champion of Ahimsa and his very opposite”. Can hate and violence be on the same pedestal as Gandhi’s peace and non-violence? She acknowledged in reference to two million people dying at the time of the partition of India: “The fact that Bengal was fairly peaceful is testament to how much people respected Gandhi – and how big India’s loss was with his death.”

Yet, she leaves the question suspended on stage and indeed permits Godse the last word. The uninitiated could leave the hall a little baffled between right and wrong, the hero and the villain. They could even wonder if today’s extremism is justified because of the death sentence handed down to Godse.

Chandrasekhar highlights the story of Godse being brought up as a girl by his parents. Is there a suggestion that the psychological injury thus committed on him at childhood was the cause of him going astray? Grounds for what he did? It’s a risky territory to venture into without scientific substantiation.

“When it comes to taboo-busting, Anupama Chandrasekhar has form,” wrote The Guardian. Its sister paper on Sundays The Observer was not as enthusiastic. It said, “this is a first-person narrative, delivered with bias and embellishments”.

Financial Times called it an “exhilarating, epic play”. But the Daily Telegraph defined it as a “dramatically slight study of Gandhi and his killer”. The New European summed up, “it’s hard not to feel Chandrashekhar has bitten off more than she can chew”.

Shubham Saraf as Godse, Paul Bazely as Gandhi and Sagar Arya as Vinayak Savarkar, not to mention Ayesha Dharkar as Godse’s mother and Sid Sagar as Narayan Apte, catch the eye. Director Indhu Rubasingham brings script together in parts quite arrestingly.

A rumour doing the rounds was the Indian government refused permission for the play to be staged in India. This was dismissed by the National Theatre spokeswoman who said: “There has never been any plan or intention to produce the play at another venue in the UK or abroad.”

The play’s current run finishes this weekend.


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Hong Kong Arts Festival to create curated performances

The Hong Kong Arts Festival (HKAF), one of Asia’s premier international cultural festivals, will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2022…reports Asian Lite News

To commemorate this significant occasion, the HKAF will host a series of online performances spanning music, dance, theatre, and more from late February to March for the enjoyment of a global audience.

This year’s HKAF uses “connections” and “arts and technology” as key themes to underscore the importance of staying in touch with the world in the Covid era. It continues to pivot to more online offerings, as it did last year, which should please a global audience, as they will be able to enjoy the specially curated performances regardless of geographical boundaries.

Highlights of the online performances include:

The Hong Kong Jockey Club Series

Bayerische Staatsoper (Bavarian State Opera) (Germany)

Korngold’s Die tote Stadt (The Dead City), Date: Feb 24 – Mar 3 (HK Time)

Shostakovich’s The Nose, Date: Mar 10 – 17 (HK Time)

. National Theatre Brno (Czech Republic)

Martinu’s The Greek Passion, Date: Mar 17 – Mar 24 (HK Time)

. Bamberg Symphony Orchestra (Germany)

Three live-streamed concerts, Date: Mar 4, 9 & 12 (HK Time)

Family Concert, Date: Apr 11 – 25 (HK Time)

. Ontroerend Goed (Belgium)

TM, Date: Feb 26 – Mar 27 (Every Sat and Sun, HK Time)

. Odeon-Theatre de l’Europe (France)

Moliere: Tartuffe and The School for Wives, Date: Feb 26 – Mar 27 (Every Sat and Sun, HK Time)

. Dead Centre (Ireland)

To Be A Machine (Version 1.0), Date: Mar 23 – 26 (HK Time)

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India News Obituary Theatre

Ad, theatre veteran Burjor Patel passes away

In his long career spanning over six decades in the Gujarati theatre and ad world, Birhor had worked with The Statesman of Kolkata and the Khaleej Times of Dubai…reports Asian Lite News.

Veteran advertising and theatre personality Burjor Patel, passed away here on Tuesday, his family announced.

He was 91 and the end came mainly due to old age.

Patel was the husband of the late theatre actress Ruby Patel and father of well-known TV actress Shernaz Patel, son mediaperson Marzban, and another daughter Feeroza.

In his long career spanning over six decades in the Gujarati theatre and ad world, Burjor had worked with The Statesman of Kolkata and the Khaleej Times of Dubai.

Leading people from both the industries in India and the UAE have condoled the passing of Patel.

ALSO READ-Indian journalist Vinod Dua passes away