In it's sixth year now, The Park’s New Festival, curated by arts-based organisation Prakriti Foundation, is, more than ever, staying true to its aim of giving new contemporary work a platform. The Foundation and the Park Hotels have been putting together this nationwide festival with the hope of giving performers a platform to express themselves as well as for audiences to be introduced to their works in fields spanning theatre, music, dance and visual arts.
This year there has been a conscious effort to bring together performers who, even though do not live in India or the sub-continent, have a strong connection to it. Ranvir Shah, who heads Prakriti Foundation and is the brain behind the festival and seven other cultural festivals says, “I started the festival at a time when India was poised on the new world stage. It was time people got to engage with Indian culture and see our new and emerging work.”
One of the major pulls at the festival this year has been artiste D’Lo. D’Lo is a queer American of Tamil-Sri Lankan descent. He is a writer, director, theatre artist and even a music producer. His writings have appeared in anthologies and academic journals like Desi Rap: Hip Hop and South Asia America and Experiments in a Jazz Aesthetic. D’Lo conducts the writing workshop ‘Coming Out, Coming Home’ across many countries.
D’Lo is performing a piece titled D’FunQT for the first time in India. It is an intimate theatre performance where D’Lo ‘rants’ about growing up in a strict immigrant family while dealing with gender identity and sexuality. However it’s all handled with humour. D’Lo, who uses the stand-up storytelling form, says, “I don’t know if humour is the best way to deal with serious issues, but I do know that it is the way I choose for the most part. Comedy is medicine. It can heal on so many levels. Ultimately, though, storytelling is the most powerful tool for change.”
While humour is a strong element, D’Lo says that D’FunQT is for the communities he identifies most with — “Fierce Folks of Color, QT’s, Queers and Islanders.” The larger audience, however have been more than receptive of D’Lo’s unusual material and performance style. He says, “In both Chennai and Bengaluru, I was well received.”
As a society we are just waking up to the struggle of homosexuals and transgenders and D’Lo hopes D’FunQT throws light on their lives, saying, “This is definitely a desire of mine, and exactly why I create my work.”
Shah says, “D’Lo’s work is great because you do not want to deal with these issues in an in-your-face manner. With humour comes empathy and it moves you.”
D’Lo performs on September 10 at 7 and 9 pm, St Andrews Auditorium, Bandra
What else to catch
The Park’s New Festival is also hosting performances by two other artistes.
> Shankar Tucker is an American clarinetist and music composer. His work is a seamless coming together of Indian classical music with western compositions. Learning, through a scholarship, under Pandit Hariprasad Chaurasia, Tucker was first noticed through his online music series ShrutiBox. Tucker and Troupe’s performance will be a unique blend of clarinet, voice, guitar and table that will combine ragas and talas with harmonies and western rhythms.
on: September 9
AT: 7 and 9 pm, Blue Frog, Mathuradas Mills Compound, Lower Parel
> Akram Khan Company, who performed at the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony, will be performing their piece Gnosis. Akram Khan is a British Bangladeshi kathak and contemporary dancer. In his work he combines kathak and modern dance to choreograph unusual yet seemingly perfect performances. Gnosis (Greek for knowledge) primarily portrays the story of Gandhari from her marriage to her decision to blindfold herself to her trauma during the Kurukshetra to her final days in the Himalayas.
on: September 11
AT: 7 and 9 pm,
St Andrews Auditorium, Bandra