Park’s New Festival: India’s cutting-edge contemporary performance arts festival.
For a number of years this was the official website for the Park’s New Festival, India’s cutting-edge contemporary performance arts festival.
Content is from the site's 2011- 2016 archived pages providing a glimpse of what this festival offered is visitors over the years.
Get set for a power-packed arts festival
Mesmerizing dance moves, heart-warming music and enthralling theatrical performances – entertainment is set to come full circle right in the city. The Park’s New Festival comes down to the city with its contemporary performance arts festival. Organized by The Park Hotels and conceptualized by Prakriti Foundation, the festival will be in the city from September 17 to 19.
The fest kicked off in Chennai on August 24 and will wind up in Kolkata after travelling through Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi. Entering its seventh edition, the festival promises to promote local and global talent. This year the artists include Amit Chaudhuri, Deepak Kurki and Sandeep John.
“India has a rich heritage. In keeping with our commitment to promote contemporary art and culture, The Park Hotels is back with the seventh edition of The Park’s New Festival. This year, the platform will be open for both international and local artists who will present excellent pieces of engaging acts,” said Priya Paul, chairperson, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels.
Amit Chadhuri’s ‘a moment of mishearing’, an audio-visual narrative which has received arts award from the Arts Council of England will be a major highlight in Kolkata on September 19 besides a cluster of small plays by Stray Factory on September 17 and contemporary dance performance by Deepak Kurki the following day. “The Park’s New Festival brings together international and local artistes together at a world class forum to celebrate art, expression, creativity and culture. Our partnership with The Park Hotels has been a fulfilling journey since our maiden act and we hope to continue our association for the years to come,” said Ranvir Shah, founder, Prakriti Foundation and the curator of the festival.[Source: Times of India]
THE PARK’s NEW FESTIVAL Edition V
1st to 25th September 2011
This year the Park’s New Festival is being presented in Chennai, Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad and Kolkata.
Parijat Desai Dance Company
Parijat Desai Dance Company performs a blend of Indian classical and Western contemporary dance. Choreographer Parijat Desai integrates the sculptural lines, intricate rhythms and theatricality of Indian dance with the full-bodied movement and conceptual experimentation of modern. Through this hybrid language, she expresses a voice at once South Asian and American. Using emotion and humor, as well as the visceral power of dance itself, Desai communicates across the boundaries of culture, nation and religion.
Set to electronic music by South Asian American artists, Make Space rewires the sculptural positions of Indian dance using dynamic modern dance, and remixes classical footwork rhythms. Dancers undulate and slide their bodies, creating openings within rigid classical forms, traveling out into space and into the air.
Songs To Live For
In Songs To Live For Choreographer Parijat Desai explores the sublime Hindustani love songs, but she bring a completely new dance styles that blends the full-bodied movement and partnering from Western contemporary dance with subtle Indian classical gesture.
Maya Krishna Rao
Maya Krishna Rao lends a new dimension to contemporary Indian theatre – both on and off stage. She acts, sings, raps, dances, writes her own scripts, directs herself, and is one of the very few woman stand-up comedians in India. Maya is also visiting faculty at the National School of Drama, New Delhi, where she teaches acting. Her shows have traveled the world, filled with wicked humour handling a range of themes that go from a random item in the morning newspapers to the Natyashastra; she covers the entire gamut from the political, to the social and the philosophical…
This is a solo performance based on a delightful short story by the Nigerian award-winning author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. The story has universal appeal; it is funny; and it perfectly pitches present-day concerns about culture. With minor modifications, the story fits into any setting. It’s a non-stop ‘boxing match’ between a mother and her daughter, which is exciting and moving. What is special is the way the actor switches between characters. With music to accompany her, she talks, she sings, she raps.
Mrs. Njoku’s daughter, Sochienne, has just got home, having completed her studies in the U.S. She is changed. Living abroad has given her seemingly new values but has strangely also brought her close to her roots. But the mother is western in a colonial way- and the stage is set for a clash! There is a delightful twist at the end, needless to say.
The Non Stop Car-Food-Clothes-Feel-Good-Show
This is an extravagantly funny show. An unstoppable woman seeks the best clothes, food, car, lifestyle…to make her life more meaningful, and yours vicariously. She is an expert on everything- from food to inner peace, you name it. It’s another thing that some themes get a little jumbled in her head sometimes. But the final score is always philosophical.
The show has episodes – short, sharp, affectionate, sometimes moving glimpses of the urban citizen’s idiosyncrasies and obsessions. The artist, through characters that change with lightning speed- much like in a Hindi film- takes the audience on a roller coaster ride that goes from the spiritual journey of an NRI jogger to the car-obsessed travails of a television cookery expert to an incomparable audio visual ‘autobiographical tale’…and more.
DNOAX – Universal Hip Hop Reborn
Hip Hop is no longer the identity of one race, country or continent. Under their own record label Desi Media Networks, 15 rappers get together as DNOAX (Desi Number One Artistes X) making Hip Hop a universal phenomenon. Snypah Killah a.k.a Varun started this with four rappers in Chennai and over seven years many have joined together to form DNOAX. Their diverse music challenges the common misconception of Hip Hop as music of drugs, cash, cars, clothes, semi-clad women, bling, etc.
The Rappers/Artists who form a part of Dnoax are as follows:
Megh uh Watt a.ka. Megh from Hyderabad
Roll Rida a.k.a Rahul from Hyderabad
Monica from Hyderabad
Invincible P a.k.a Pratik from Mumbai
Ace from Mumbai
AP a.k.a Amey from Mumbai
Vamsi from Mumbai
They came. They saw. They conquered and They (made you) see (the)
Tagore on Vinyl – Traveling with Thakur
directed by Peter Arun Pfaff
Choreography: Sandra Chatterjee | Dramaturgy: Anirban Ghosh
Credits: Sarmila Bose, Oliver Rajamani (voice, music), Friedel Lelonek (remix), Catherine Janke (voice over), Pravu Mazumdar (voice-over, translation), Alokeranjan Dasgupta (voice over, translation), Constanze Knapp (costume), Aditee Biswas (stage), Martin Herale (light design)
Searching through her father’s collection of music records, Sandra finds traces that lead her to the work of Rabindranath Thakur.
Alongside the memories of the Bengali songs of her childhood, she is fascinated by the philosophical and political ideas of the world-traveler Tagore, who saw the encounters between “East and West” as the important fact of the current age.
In particular his thoughts on the role of Europe in the world – between postcolonial modernity and nationalism – remain an important starting point for a choreographic memory – approximately a hundred years later, and in the Diaspora.
Between these overlapping layers of exploration and memory, a very personal dialogue with Rabindranath Thakur’s work emerges, in part in the form of dance, in part as text and in part as video.
Best of Short+Sweet Chennai:
Short+Sweet Theatre is the biggest festival of ten-minute theatre in the world, starting in Australia in 2002 and held annually in 30 cities in 7 different countries, including in India (Delhi) from last year.
Short+Sweet aims to provide a platform for actors, writers and directors to create high quality new work in professional theatre and a collaborative environment where established practitioners may pass on knowledge to others in the theatre arts. The Short+Sweet South India was presented by Prakriti Foundation along with The Blu Lotus Company in Chennai for the first time in July 2011. Six plays that reached the finals this year are being staged again at The Park’s New Festival.
Because The World Needs Unicorns
directed by Freddy Koikaran, written by Cerise de Gelder:
A desperate refugee begs for safe haven and is met with rigid rules and red tape. But he hasn’t arrived on a boat…he needs to get on one. (Cast: Vivek Hariharan, Naren Weiss, Venkatesh Harinathan)
The Fruits of War
directed by Samyuktha PC, written by Earl T.Roske:
The benefits of war…with fruit. (Cast: Karan Nair, Naren Weiss)
directed by Mike Muthu, written by Pathy Aiyar:
Where does art end and nature begin? (Cast: Vinod Anand, Mohammad Yusuf, Pavitra)
Breath of Life
directed by Koumarane Valavane, written by Cordis Paladano, Koumarane Valavane:
The birth of emotion, the discovery of pleasure, and the emergence of attachment in a young angel that has come to fetch the soul of a woman of pleasure. (Cast: Aditi Bheda, Vasanth Selvam, Cordis Paladano, Vinoth Charles)
He and She
directed by V.Balakrishnan, written by Arthi Menon: A love story of changing identities that change the relationship. (Cast: Aarti Aney, Prateeksha Chandrasekar)
The Lost Audition
directed and written by Rajiv Rajaram:
An audition that was never meant to be. (Cast: Mathivanan Rajendran, Venkatesh Harinathan
1st September - Maya Krishna Rao – Yantra, Park Hotel, 7 pm
2nd September - DNOAX - Agni, Park Hotel
3rd September - Parijat Desai Dance Company – Yantra, Park Hotel
6th September - Parijat Desai Dance Company – ICCR Auditorium, 7 pm
7th September - Maya Krishna Rao – Galaxy, Park Hotel, 7 pm
8th September - DNOAX – Roxy, Park Hotel, 7 pm
9th September - DNOAX – Blue Frog, 7 pm
10th September - Maya Krishna Rao - NCPA Experimental Theatre, 7pm
12th September - Parijat Desai Dance Company – NCPA Experimental Theatre, 7 pm
13th September - Maya Krishna Rao – Park Hotel, 7 pm
14th September - Parijat Desai Dance Company – Park Hotel, 7 pm
15th September - DNOAX - Park Hotel, 7 pm
16th September - Parijat Desai Dance Company
17th September - DNOAX - Park Hotel, 8.30 pm
18th September - Maya Krishna Rao - Ranga Shankara, 3pm, 7 pm
21st September - Maya Krishna Rao – Museum Theatre
22nd September - Parijat Desai Dance Company – Museum Theatre
23rd September - DNOAX – Pasha, Park Hotel
24th September - Tagore on Vinyl – Travelling with Thakur – Museum Theatre
25th September - Best of Short and Sweet – A collection of 6 10 minute plays- Museum Theatre
"In mid 2014, I started working as a volunteer on the 2015 events. Although it went off pretty smoothly given some of the obstacles thrown our way, the real drama was off set. We had talent cancelations, customs issues, lost costumes, unpaid vendors, etc. But by far the most scary problems were related to an online attack made public via Google search results. Someone was definitely out to harm the festival. Google's page 1 for searches of "Park's New Festival 2015" displayed results that included some devastating content. There were a number phony "news" items reporting corruption at the highest level within the organizers of the festival. This made us appear criminal. The lawyers were taking way too long to fix it, so the promoter brought in his search specialist. This expert used to work for a firm that worked exclusively to remove search results from Google. This is a unique service that uses search engine optimization to bury a harmful result by optimizing other sites to out rank it. The cost was significant, but we felt we had no choice. Leaving that bogus story live would clearly harm attendance. But paying to get rid of that search result would harm us financially. The problem lasted for weeks which seemed like years. We were fielding questions about whether 2015 would even open. Fortunately, before we committed to the search removal service, the content was removed by the publisher. But it remained in the search for another 3 weeks. We still have no idea who the culprit was." Tona Mada
2012 - 2015 Artistes
The Park’s New Festival 2015 starts from Chennai and travels to Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi between September 21--October 14, 2015
September 08 , 2015
India’s cutting-edge contemporary performance arts festival is back in its 9th edition! This time, the masterful Akram Khan and Israel Galván’s Torobaka bring together kathak and flamenco; there’s also EnFlightenment, a physical comedy in which Rupesh Tillu plays 30 characters in 75 minutes; Aditya Prakash and his troupe bring The Colliding Worlds Project, a musical journey; and finally there’s the launch of Karthika Nair’s Until the Lions, a reworking of the Mahabharata in verse. The Park’s New Festival 2015, curated by Prakriti Foundation, kicks off from Chennai and travels to Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi.
What: Contemporary Performance Arts Festival
When: September 21–October 14
Where: Chennai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi
- AP Ensemble – The Colliding Worlds Project
- Until the Lions
- Avant Garde
- Azeem Banatwalla
- Filter Coffee
- Jyoti Dogra
- Between The Web And The Loom
The Mint covers The Park’s New Festival 2013:
A festival of artistic melange
From music, art to dance, the Park’s New Festival 2013 has something for every one
Published: Thu, Aug 22 201. By Nandini Reddy
The seventh edition of Prakriti’s much awaited contemporary performance arts festival, The Park’s New Festival 2013, promises to be a visual and musical treat. The festival will travel to five cities—Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata—after opening in Chennai on 24 August. The festival ends on 19 September. It is perhaps the only festival that is dedicated to contemporary art forms in India today.
Ranvir Shah, founder of Prakriti Foundation and curator of the festival, says, “Since its inception in 2007, the festival has been bringing together artistes from across India and the world and has created a world-class platform to perform and celebrate artistic expression.”
This year the line-up of performers includes Amit Chaudhuri, Deepak Kurki Shivaswamy and Stray Factory. Amit Chaudhuri’s piece, A Moment of Mishearing, is an award-winning audio-visual concert that uses mixed media to create a musical that blends Indian music with blues, jazz and even Western pop classics. Speaking about creating the piece, Chaudhuri says, “The start of this piece happened perchance when I one morning realized that I could hear our ragas in Western classical music. This lead me on a journey of new discovery and the concert, A Moment of Mishearing.”
For contemporary dance lovers, Attakalari, the Repertory Company from Bangalore, will be performing Aadhaara Chakra, a dancelogue. This hybrid performance weaves in movement with music, light and film in a complex and fragmented contemporary dance performance. The story moves audiences through incidences in the present and past and with its representations brings alive several nuances and aspects of the diversity of India. The project is conceived, choreographed and directed by Jayachandran Palazhy, Attakkalari’s artistic director.
The performance that is much awaited is by the winner of the Prakriti Excellence in Contemporary Dance Award (PECDA) in 2012, Deepak Kurki. Kurki will perform his contemporary dance work, NH7. The dance piece captures the mayhem of urban life and touches on the idea of changing landscapes due to rapid urbanization. The performance was created with KHA foundation and mentored by Akram Khan Dance Company.
In the theatrical space, Stray Factory presents Osama, Cinema and a Whole Lot of Black Money, a collection of their award- winning short plays that have been put together to create an hour-long performance to form a central theme. Stray Factory is an entertainment collective that encourages performance arts and creating original content.
Tickets for the Chennai performance, Rs.200, are available at www.eventjini.com. To get passes for the shows in Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata, and Amit Chaudhuri’s performance in Chennai, email email@example.com. Click here for the complete festival schedule.
The New Festival is being held between September 3 and 26 at Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad.
In the short three years it has been around, the New Festival at The Park has come to showcase a range of experimentation in the performing arts. This year’s edition, being held at The Park, Delhi, from September 3 to 6, is no different.
Three artists will perform this year. There’ll be Preethi Athreya, a Chennai-based contemporary dancer whose production, “Sweet Sorrows”, combines dance, music, text and film; Vidur Kapur, a popular stand-up comedian from the US; and Yodhakaa, an experimental music band from Chennai that uses a lot of Sanskrit shlokas, layering it with diverse musical styles. “Our aim is to showcase the range of new art happening in India and among the Indian diaspora,” says Ranvir Shah, the founder of Prakriti Foundation who puts together the New Festival.
- Amit Chaudhuri
- Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts
- Deepak Kurki Shivaswamy & Group
- Stray Factory
Akram Khan & Company
Founded in August 2000 by Choreographer Akram Khan and Producer Farooq Chaudhry, Akram Khan Company journeys across boundaries to create uncompromising artistic narratives. Having established itself as one of the foremost innovative dance companies in the world, the company is renowned for its intercultural, interdisciplinary collaborations and for challenging conventional ideas of traditional dance forms. The dance language in each production is rooted in Akram Khan’s classical Kathak and modern dance training, and continually evolves to communicate ideas that are intelligent, courageous and new.
Akram Khan Company tours extensively both within the United Kingdom and internationally at leading international festival and venues, performing a diverse range of programmes including classical kathak solos, ensemble productions and artist-to-artist collaborations. The company has been awarded with several prestigious honours including the Olivier Awards for Best New Dance Production (2012, DESH), South Bank Sky Arts Award for Dance (2011, Gnosis), The Age Critics’ Award for Best New Work (2010, Vertical Road) at the Melbourne Arts Festival and the Helpmann Award for Best Choreography and Best Male Dancer (2007, zero degrees) in Sydney.
D’Lo is a queer Tamil Sri L.A.nkan-American, political theatre artist/writer, director, comedian and music producer.
D’Lo has performed and/or facilitated performance and writing workshops extensively (US, Canada, UK, Germany, Sri Lanka and India). D’Lo is also the creator of the “Coming Out, Coming Home” writing workshop series which have taken place with South Asian and/or Immigrant Queer Organizations nationally (LA, NY and SF).
D’Lo’s work has been published in various anthologies and academic journals, most recently: Desi Rap: Hip Hop and South Asia America and Experiments in a Jazz Aesthetic
(co-edited by Sharon Bridgforth). D’Lo holds a BA from UCLA in Ethnomusicology and is a graduate of New York’s School of Audio Engineering (SAE).
Shankar Tucker & Troupe
Nirali Kartik started to learn Indian Classical Vocal at the young age of nine from Shri Vikas Parik at Saptak School of Music and gave her first performance at the age of 12 at the Annual Saptak Music Festival. After many years of training and riyaz, she then went over to perform at many music festivals across India and also many countries of Europe.
A recipient of Shrestha Sadhak award by Gujarat Sangeet Natak Kala Academy, Nirali’s classical music channel on youtube has garnered a lot of viewership and her music is unanimously appreciated by the music lovers and critics alike. Nirali has collaborated with many world music artistes and has also sung for national award winning documentaries.
Born in the United States, clarinetist and composer Shankar Tucker strives to bring together the worlds of Indian classical music and western popular music. He is known for creating a channel of online music videos known as “The Shrutibox”, which has garnered over 8 million views and 100,000 fans worldwide. He is a recipient of the 2010 Frank Huntington Beebe Grant
for Musicians, a one year scholarship which allowed him to study under Pt. Hariprasad Chaurasia for one year in Mumbai. He is also a featured speaker and performer at TEDx conventions in India.
Kartik Shah is a music composer and producer based in Mumbai since the past 10 years. He has composed music for over 150 TV commercials and for several award winning documentaries and short films. His latest popular ads on TV include Lakme sun Expert, Hitachi, Sonata, Nivea and many others.
An extremely versatile table player, Amit Mishra is the disciple of Pt Sharda Sahai and comes from the family of legendary musicians. He has played tabla with the best instrumentalists, vocalists and world music artistes. He has been to many countries in Europe,Japan, Singapore for music festivals and live concerts.
The Industrial Theatre Co
The industrial theatre co. has consisted of Nadir Khan, Pushan Kripalani and Rehaan Engineer ever since Karan Makhija, the fourth founding member, moved on.
nadir khan has worked widely in the theatre as actor, director and producer. A founding member of Q Theatre Productions, he has worked for radio with the BBC as well as with a local Mumbai radio station.
pushan kripalani studied film in the U.K. He is a practicing cinematographer and theatre director.
rehaan engineer trained at the R.A.D.A.. He currently lives and works in Mumbai, directing and acting in the theatre and in film.
All things urban — existence and identity, chaos and culture, sound and scape — were among the prime explorations in this edition of The Park’s New Festival. The festival is now travelling to five cities from its home-ground in Chennai.
The Amit Chaudhuri Band. Photo Courtesy: Prakriti Foundation
Under a dim blue light, a five-piece band, whose nucleus is a voice that sings as well as tells a story, was staging the final act this year. A Moment of Mishearing by the Amit Chaudhuri Band unravelled as an honest and unfussy narrative that used the audio-visual medium to intersperse each song with a story, allowing viewers to connect a visual landscape to the text and texture of each piece
The writer experiences urbanism in all its chaotic artistry at The Park’s New Festival.
Indian Express on The Park’s New Festival
The fifth edition of The Park’s New Festival began in Chennai on August 29, following which the festival will tour Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Kolkata. Conceptualised and curated by the Park Hotels and Prakriti Foundation, the festival’s aim is to promote emerging and new artistes.
“Experimental and provocative” – The Hindu
In a city hailed as the Mecca of classical music and dance, but where the contemporary is still seeking venues for self-expression, The Park’s New Festival is a much-appreciated platform for multidisciplinary creativity of the moment. Curated by Ranvir Shah of Prakriti Foundation, the Festival is now into its sixth edition — and third year as a multi-city festival beyond Chennai — and looks at different forms of artistry including contemporary dance, music, puppetry, even stand-up comedy.
Shah, who is the artistic director of the New Festival, had previously co-curated The Other Festival for nine years. Explaining his impetus for a new iteration of an arts festival, he says: “I felt the time had come for us in India to look at ourselves, through the prism of the self and not that of the other. How we could engage with this new global/local India was an exciting idea for me to review and curate. I like to keep my curatorial narrative as being still engaged with the New India, through artists who are either based in India, or inspired and plugged into the source of India’s performing arts.”
Lasting typically between three to six days, the duration may be short and sweet but the programming aims to be experimental and provocative. Headlining this year’s performance is the Akram Khan Dance Company, who will present Gnosis. Khan searches within his twin classical and contemporary roots to present a piece about the human struggle, inspired by the story of Gandhari from the Mahabharata.
Other acts include music by the troupe of clarinettist and composer Shankar Tucker; theatre performance by Sri Lankan-American D’Lo; a retelling of Girish Karnad’s Hayavadana by The Industrial Theatre Co. and the play Chinese Coffee by the Hosruba Repertory.
Mumbai Theatre Guide Interviews Ranvir Shah
(as published on Mumbai Theatre Guide)
Business runs in his blood but Ranvir Shah is no ordinary businessman. Apart from overseeing his myriad family businesses, adding to which is a new restaurant, Ranvir Shah is an artist at heart and in time has become one of its foremost patrons in India. He heads the Prakriti Foundation in Chennai, which he found in 1998.
An Arts based organisation, the Prakriti Foundation is now a well-reckoned institution in Tamil Nadu and has been playing a pivotal role in defining and enlarging the cultural scene in Chennai. There are eight different types of festivals that the Foundation has been organising along with its other activities in the Arts. One of the foundation’s prominent festivals which Ranvir has been curating is the Park’s New Festival.
The Park’s New Festival celebrates contemporary performances and art from across the globe and it is the only kind of its festival in India today. Moreover, the festival is now being presented in six cities across India in association with the Park Hotels. Mumbai audiences will have an opportunity to enjoy this festival in the second week of September.
Deepa Punjani (DP): When and how did you get involved with the Arts? In one of our conversations, you said you had an earlier life as an actor and if I am recall correctly, you had mentioned that you had worked with people like Chandralekha and Anita Ratnam.
Ranvir Shah (RS): Since my childhood I have been involved with the Arts. My mother used to play the Sitar when we were young and my father was an amateur actor in his youth. In college, while I was in Bombay, I used to win prizes for solo mime and my ambition in life was to study under Marcel Marceau. However, that did not come to pass, but I did meet him in the early 80s. I started doing amateur acting on stage as well as producing small plays when I moved to Chennai in the early 80s. I got busy with work, and it became difficult to find time for acting and rehearsals and hence I got involved with presenting. I ideated and co-curated the Other Festival with Anita Ratnam for 9 years. With Chandraleka, I was just deeply inspired by her and had a chance to watch some of her productions. She was also very gracious and allowed me to do my first theatre production of A.K.Ramanujam’s – “The Interior Landscape” at her place in 1984. I also worked with her on one show called Bhinna Pravah which was about confluence and I helped her with costumes.
DP: What led you to form the Prakriti foundation?
RS: For the longest time ever I had a dream that I wanted to start an Arts group or an Arts organisation. 15 years ago, my driver had a sudden cardiac arrest and died. He was about the same age as me. I realized I could not do anything to help him or save his life. You have to go when you have to go. That is when I decided I would not wait till I retire to start a Foundation, even though I had little money to do the things. For the first year we started with a friend giving a lecture at my house, in the second year we also had a lecture in an Art Gallery of a friend. Today we do eight annual festivals, have organised over 150 events with lectures, book launches, etc. We do some publishing too. I think one has to believe in the maximum, and as they say, “find a purpose, the means will follow.”
DP: What was the vision behind the Park’s New festival?
RS: We want to show new India the new kind of cultural engagements we are in the process of making, and extending from music, dance, theatre to the visual arts. We are finding creative new ways to express the context of our times. Art is inspired mostly by the times in which it is created, but it is also inspired by the past and looks ahead into the future. This is the dream of my curatorial narrative for the Park’s New Festival.
DP: Along with the Park’s New Festival, the Prakriti foundation is involved with a number of other activities and events, which have gained prominence too. What is your single, defining masterwork among all of these?
RS: I can’t say that I have one single defining moment.It is like having many children and each one is special and each one has its own unique talent. All our eight festivals are differently themed, and reach out to different areas in the Arts. For instance, The Festival of Sacred Music at Thiruvaiyaru on the banks of River Cauvery wishes to expose people to the various forms of music, help local artisans find more outlets to increase revenues and get local musicians to perform more often so that the town can become a destination for tourists, and for people who once hailed from this area to come by more often and for artistes to find their own space. We have plans to bring musicians performing sacred music from all parts of India and abroad.
DP: How has the Park’s New festival grown over the years?
RS: The Park’s New Festival started from being only presented in Chennai, then we went for two years to Delhi; from year 4, we have gone national by going to 4 cities and last year we have done a six city circuit which is now set for the next few years. I curate all the performances myself because it is important that there is a certain link. This year we are presenting three performers who will represent how they are engaged with India even though they are living elsewhere. Shankar Tucker creates new music with Indian musicians and he is a clarinetist trained with Hariprasad Chaurasia. D’ Lo talks about dealing with alternative sexuality which is something that is slowly being talked about in India, and Akram Khan reinvents Kathak for us, to show us what can be done with tradition and contemporary work when they met at the crossroads of inspiration.
DP: You’re an idealist, in spite of being a Shah. How do you source your funds devoted to the cause of the Arts?
RS: Yes, I am a complete romantic idealist. I believe that one’s life has been given for a higher purpose and if one has the privilege to do so, one must constantly challenge one’s self to seek out those transitory moments of beauty and truth. For the last 15 years I have been supported by few close friends and family and I put in my funds to fill the gap. Those were huge gaps. Slowly with more people knowing about the Foundation and its activities, the gap reduces. For several festivals we are getting help from the Govt. and the Ministry of Culture. So, all this talk in the Art world that we have about the Govt. not helping, is not true. One has to know how to apply for funds and run a legitimate organisation to access them.
DP: At a time when the future of theatre festivals all over the world is tormented and unpredictable, what is the future of privately funded art?
RS: I don’t think festivals all over the world are going through a difficult phase. The truth is that the world is going through a recessionary cycle and as always culture is last on the priority list of funding. The only way we will pull through this is by having enough people in Govt., and in Corporate who are visionaries and understand that the role of culture defines the future of a community and society. From the mother source of all cultures, comes inspiration and alternative thinking and from that new ideas emerge. It is only through new ideas that civilization achieves progress and finally, peace.
DP: Your finest moment at your own festival?
RS: There are many moments at every festival and I will share some of them with you. Standing ovation for all of Maya Krishna Rao’s shows last year in all six cities. Desi hip-hop across all cities being completely lapped up by young people. Standing ovation for Aruna Sairam and Dominique Vellard when they sang songs from Soundarya Lahari and Gregorian chants. Mallika Sarabhai opening the New Festival at the Museum Theatre where her mother performed at the age of 4 in a school play. The fact that Akram Khan remembered me from his trip in 2002 and decided to tour India once more with us after having reached the top of his career.
DP: Any cautionary tales that a festival director must keep in mind?
RS: The only thing that I need constantly reminding of and this is something that all festival directors need to keep in mind is that, it is very easy to be indulgent, patronizing and superior. One has to be open, listen to one’s audience and the performers and also be able to receive criticism. I see the positives in all these and that has allowed me to be grounded. One must always remember that it is the festival where you provide a crucible for the magical alchemy to take place between the performer and the audience. My role or that of any festival director is to be that catalyst and enabler.
The Park’s New Festival 2016 – Schedule
Nerves is a performance art piece, rooted in the expressions of the voiceless people from Manipur, a state nestled in the Northeast corner of India. Through the medium of our performance, we are trying to explore the lives that have been exhausted by the constant questioning of one’s world, without any answers. In Nerves, we have poured ourselves over with the dissonance that has been perpetuating through various issues of conflict and human rights violations in our homeland. In a land where we internalize our angst against this conflict and limbo of violence, we have been played over, like the ball of a polo game, bound by the puppetry of power struggles by the elites, in course of which, indigenous peoples’ rights have been sold and marketed for profit.
These frustrations are embodied in the piece, whereby, we as performers try to explore a new medium to express our emotions, our guilt, our helplessness and our vulnerability. We have tried to appropriate the silent torture that each of us goes through into our performance. Although, the roots of this piece are grounded in Manipur and the Northeast of India, the struggle is universal; the struggle and the search for peace.
“Nerves” won the Prakriti Excellence in Contemporary Dance Awards – Edition II in 2014 and the choreographer Surjit Nongmeikapam was mentored by the world famous Akram Khan Dance Company. The work-in-progress was showcased in Dance Umbrella, UK, and the team did residencies & showcase in Barcelona and Portugal.
In 2011 I created a solo piece, OneVoice, at the Summer dance residency at Gati, New Delhi. It was an articulate expression about torture and victim relationship within one’s body. There were lots of ideas that I wanted to work with. I finally decided to go for an assembled piece as my next. In 2013, as part of another residency, the Monsoon Residency in Belgium, I performed, for the first time, what was then a work-in-progress version of Nerves. I later performed the piece in Osaka, Japan. Once I was back in Manipur, I learnt about PECDA 2014.
My initial research was on the people of Manipur. Given that Manipur is one of the most culturally diverse states in India and one of the most conflicted zone, my focus was on the numerous issues the people are faced with. Personal experiences varied and left strong physical and mental impacts on Manipur’s people. When creating Nerves, the first thing that came to my mind was Manipur’s youth, her dancers, movers, musicians and non-dancers as my performers. Rather than focusing on dance technique, the idea was to focus on shedding light on the disturbed senses from the inner self. Therefore, the movement in Nerves is raw and strong. All performers are first timers in the contemporary dance field. Nerves has thus been a challenge for me as a choreographer.
Surjit Nongmeikapam (Bonbon) was born in Manipur, India. Bonbon has a B.A. in Choreography and has worked with the Natya Stem Dance Kampni and Natya Maya, Bangalore as a contemporary and traditional dancer. Bonbon is trained in Kathak, Kalaripayattu, Manipuri dance, contemporary dance and Thang-Ta, a form of martial arts. He continues to learn many other movement styles from various gurus/mentors. In 2010, he trained under Kolkata Sanved in their 3-month course Dance and Movement Therapy. He was also a dance therapist at H2H, Human to Humane, Imphal during 2009-2013. He has given awareness and dance workshops to several trauma victims in Manipur.
Bonbon is now exploring an interdisciplinary experimental performance art with the physical and emotional in his pieces. He also works with visual artists and filmmakers as collaborators. Some notable dance films he has worked with include, Black Pot and Movement and UNDERLINE.
Bonbon has been to many international and national level artists’ residencies. He has toured and participated in major dance festivals in Switzerland, France, Singapore, Belgium, Japan, USA, Germany, Spain, Portugal, UK and more. He is the Co-Founder/Managing Director of Nachom Arts of Contemporary Movement, Manipur.
Purnima Yengkokpam is a versatile theatre artist, who graduated from the National School of Drama, New Delhi, having specialized in Acting. She has previously been involved with theatre groups such as Ocean and Khenjonlang. After graduating from NSD in 2013, she has been working as a freelance theatre artist and a collaborator in different aspects such as actor training, costume design and stage management on both national and international platforms.
Some of her solo performances include Voice of the Silence, Unheard Voice, Jaiva and more. She participated and performed in the 8th Asia Pacific Bureau Theatre Schools Festivals and Directors Conference, Singapore (2015) and the Asia Theatre Educations Centre Festival, Beijing (2012). She has worked with eminent theatre personalities such as Dr. Anuradha Kapur, Robin Das, Venu G. Nayyar, H. Kanhailal, Abhilash Pillai, David Zindar, Michael Moritz and mant more. Her other skills comprise of Circus Performances and Clowning, Kallaripayetu, Manipuri Martial Arts (Thang-ta), Manipuri Folk Dance, Voice and Speech, Advanced Make-up, and Prosthetic Make-up.
Senjam Hemjit Meitei (Tombi) has had the pleasure of being part of several national and international level artists residencies focusing on dance and movement. He is a founder of a locally well-known dance crew ARDAC THE SAYON. He has participated in important international dance festivals, touring Thailand, Spain, Portugal and London. He is currently working with Surjit Nongmeikapam Company, under the guidance and supervision of Surjit Nongmeikapam (Bonbon) — with Angom Tombi Meitei.
He specializes in Thang-ta, Manipuri folk dance and music, modern dance, hip-hop and contemporary dance.
Laiphangbam Suraj Roy (Yaima) is a young contemporary dancer, who has been learning and working under the guidance of Surjit Singh Nongmeikapam since 2013. He is also a practitioner of the Manipur folk instrument, Pena, under Guru Mayanglambam Mangansana at Laihui. He has travelled with Surjit Nongmeikapam Company to Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai, Barcelona, Portugal and London. His interest in exploring the body through movement led him to the platform of contemporary dance.
Sumeet Sagolsem is a dancer who has been pursuing a dance career since 2015. He specializes in hip-hop and is a founding member of locally well-known dance crew ARDAC THE SAYON. He worked as a choreographer at several colleges, institutions and camps. He has choreographed different styles of dance in various events held in Bangalore. Some of his achievements include several prizes won at Manfeete, a college event in Manipur during 2010-2014.
Suresh Kiran Singh Khundrakpam
Light Design – Ryoya Fudetani
Light Assistance – Premananda Nongthombam
Sound Design – R.K. Roseen
Sound Mix – Sunil Loitongbam
Costume – Wangkhei Phee Mantri
Project Manager – Renuka Soraisam
Production and Stage Manager – Suresh Kiran Singh Khundrakpam
Prakriti Foundation, Chennai
Dance Connect (Attakkalari), Bangalore
O Espaco Do Tempo, Montemore
Dance Umbrella, London
The Japan Foundation, New Delhi
Nachom Arts Foundation, Manipur
Our special thanks to Meera Krish, Jayachandra Palazhy, Pia Kramer,Claire Verlet, Emma Gladstone, Elena Carmon, Misako Futsuki, Akram khan Company, Chaoba Thiyam, James Khangenbam, Leika Yumnam, Akee Sorokhaibam, Borun Thokchom, Deepak Ningthouja, Indigenous Perspective, Core Manipur, my friends and family.
Elephant in the Room
Elephant in the Room is a solo theatre performance about the whimsical adventures of a young boy in search of his missing head. It’s a coming of age story, with eccentric characters, whose destinies intertwine in a plot that twists and thrills.
Master Tusk is a young boy, whose been given a new head – an elephant’s head. Confused and bewildered, he finds himself lost in the forest. But dangers lurk at every turn. He encounters a motley couple – they’re Makadi (spider) and Moork (poacher), a clumsy duo in search of a big-ticket ransom. Things don’t go as planned when a prophecy that is revealed changes everything. Amidst a cursed love affair, an encounter with the eccentric old elephant and the hunt for a missing head, Master Tusks sets off on an adventure that changes his life. But will he be able to carry his head on his shoulders?
Created & Performed by: Yuki Ellias
Written by: Sneh Sapru
Set & Costume design: Sumaiya Merchant
Music composed by: Seemingly That
Light Design: Asmit Pathare
Sound: Yael Crishna
Rehearsal partners: Roshan Mathew, Rushab Kamdar
Yuki Ellias is a performer, director, and a corporate coach.
She trained at the Jacques Lecoq International School of Theatre in Paris? and is a trained pedagogue from the London International School of Performing Arts.
As an actress, she has performed in the UK, US, Canada, Australia, Italy, and India. She played the role of ‘Hermia’ in A Midsummer Night’s Dream directed by Tim Supple’s and has performed at the Royal Shakespeare Company festival ?in Stratford Apon Avon, The Roundhouse in London, Theatre Romano in Verona and at the Sydney Theatre Company.? She was the movement director for UK’s leading opera company, Opera North’s, production of Mozart’s Magic Flute in 2007. Her debut feature film “Love You To Death” as co-writer and actress won an Audience Choice Award at the Anchorage International Film Festival and the Royal Reel Award at the Canada International Film Festival in 2012.
She made her directorial debut in 2015 with a sci-fi absurd comedy called CHARGE. This year she has created three shows: “Dying to Succeed”, a one-woman solo comedy show on Shakespeare’s characters in today’s corporate world; “Yatagarasu”, a dance and theatre show on growing up stories; and “Elephant in the Room” a solo on a boy with the head of a pachyderm.
She is the founder of DUR SE BROTHERS- producers of “Charge”, “Dying to Succeed”, and co-producers of “Yatagarasu” & “Its Not Waht You Tihnk”. Yuki is also a convenor and instructor at Drama School Mumbai.