South India’s 10th International Theatre Festival of Kerala held (Jan. 20 – 28, 2018)
This performing arts festival that began in the state of Kerala in southern India in December of 2008 celebrates its 10th holding this year. The inaugural holding of the festival only introduced works of traditional and contemporary theater from the neighboring member countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), including Bangladesh, China, Iran, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, but in the years since, the festival has gradually grown in scope to become a grand-scale festival now inviting about 30 works each year, not only from South Asia but other parts of Asia, Europe and the Americas, from Colombia to Poland, Lithuania to Bolivia and Japan and the UK. The artistic director since 2015, Sankar Venkateswaran (born 1979), is one of the most acclaimed contemporary Indian theater directors, whose works are performed worldwide. Invited to the 2016 KYOTO EXPERIMENT festival, he directed a very well-received production of Shogo Ota’s Mizu no Eki (The Water Station).
Each year, a theme is adopted for the festival, around which the invited works, workshops and symposiums are planned. This year’s theme is “Reclaiming the Margins.” The ‘marginalized’ are generally described negatively as those who have been isolated, excluded, or pushed to the edges (margins) of society as outsiders. But this festival takes a positive view margins, believing they can also be ‘spaces for collective reflection, engagement and action … it can be the margins that will help us recover silenced stories.’ They can be ‘creative spaces, where new art, ideas, performances, languages and landscapes come to life.’
In addition to local works from around India, the festival’s program also includes a select group of avant-garde theater works including, from Iran a production by director Azadeh Shahmiri titled Voicelessness, which depicts the women of Iran’s loss of political and social voice; a documentary theatre work titled Zig Zig by Leila De Lima telling the story of 12 Egyptian women raped by British soldiers early in the 20th century; a puppet theatre work for adults by the Giorgi Miqeladze Tbilisi Professional State Puppet Theatre of Georgia titled The Power of Lullaby; a physical theatre work by the contemporary theater company Ponggurl from Singapore titled The Malay Man and His Chinese Father, among others.
Launched in 2008 by one of India’s leading dance and theatre research institutes, the Kerala Sangeetha Nakata Akademi, this is one of the most important comprehensive international theatre festivals in India. With a main focus on providing the opportunity for nurture, exposure and development of local contemporary performing arts, the festival also focuses on providing a platform for other folk and traditional theatre forms from Kerala and other parts of the country and the region. Furthermore, an ambitions program of seminars and workshops, exhibitions and film screenings are also planned to help visiting artists and academicians from abroad deepen their understanding of Indian culture.
- International Theatre Festival of Kerala