The foreign connection
In 2010, while kick-starting the NCPA Centrestage Theatre Festival, Deepa Gahlot, programming head (theatre and film), mentioned that she had chosen to start small by featuring plays by only Mumbai-based theatre groups. In the years to come, she added, Centrestage would host national and international groups. Little did we know that Gahlot would follow up on her promise so quickly.
A still from Awishkar's Sadu, Saduchi Bayko Ani Urlela Jag
Among the many 'special' things happening at the festival this year are two international productions, two international tie-ups, a play each from Pune and Bangalore, five musicals and two big playwrights staging their comeback. Centre-stage is fast becoming one of the most vibrant theatre festivals in the city and we are loving it.
Rangshila's The Great Raja Master Company
Centrestage 2011 will open with Mind Walking, a play that is the result of a two-year-long collaboration between Brighton-based group Bandbazi and Mumbai's QTP. On the concluding day of the festival, Malaysian theatre artist Sabera Shaik's play Lady Swettenham will have its Indian premiere. The 10-day long festival will also see the premiere of Baghdad Wedding, an award-winning play by Hassan Abdulrazzak, a playwright of Iraqi origin who is currently living in London, and Pramay, a Gujarati play adapted from David Auburn's multi-award-winning play, Proof.
Faisal Rashid and Nimrat Kaur in Akvarious Production's Baghdad
The aerial drama, Mind Walking, has already had a few shows in Delhi and Bangalore and has been well received. For Quasar Padamsee, apart from the story of the play, the idea of associating with different styles of theatre seemed most exciting. "There was a lovely moment last year when we all met at the South Bank Centre. The four of us -- John Binnie, Philippa Vafadari, Tanika Gupta and me; a Scotsman director, a British Irani Zorastrian circus theatre performer, a Britain-born Bengali playwright and a Mumbai-based theatrewallah.
We couldn't be more different in ethnicity or theatre styles. How the hell were we going to tell the story of a Parsi man who left India in the '50s and is now losing his mind through aerial theatre? It was the absurdity of it all that was so exciting," Quasar tells us, while travelling to Mumbai after performances in Bangalore.
Only a few months ago, Sunday MiD DAY tracked a trend of the many, many musicals that have hit the stage in the recent past. Centrestage 2011 will add five more musicals to the ever-burgeoning list. Sarpa Sutra, The Great Raja Master Company, Spamalot, All That I Ever Wanted and Preth are all musicals making their debut at the festival.
From a musical adaptation of Monty Python & The Holy Grail by Bangalore's finest singers to a witty, musical drama based on a folk tale, the subjects these plays deal with are excitingly diverse. The one musical we would certainly recommend is Delna Mody's All That I Ever Wanted, which connects the lives of three women from Mumbai, New York and Paris through the voice of the legendary French chanteuse, Edith Piaf.
Return of the playwrights
With Sadu, Saduchi Bayko Ani Urlela Jag, the multi-faceted playwright Achyut Vaze makes a comeback to theatre after 25 years. Vijay Kenkre also returns to the Awishkar fold as a director after nearly five years with this play. Another big comeback at the festival is that of Vikram Kapadia, who returns with a new play after a decade.
For months now, the theatre community has been buzzing with anticipation over Kapadia's Bombay Talkies, a series of monologues about living in India's Maximum City. Vaze's play also explores a similar theme but with a sense of humour that cracked up the usually unyielding reporters at the press meet for the festival. These are absolute must-watch plays.
To participate in the Street Theatre Competition, call 9899006552 or write to the festival director at firstname.lastname@example.org, registrations are on till November 19. Baghdad Wedding is strictly for adults (Age group 18 years)
Call: 66223724/ 66223754 to book tickets