The stage is set as Prithvi Festival enters its 35th year

Nov 02, 2017, 09:25 IST | Snigdha Hasan

Entering its 35th year, the Prithvi Festival has a hand-picked line-up that pushes the boundaries of theatrical performances

"If you are interested in a subject or art form, you keep your eyes and ears open for new works, experiences, discussions and so on. You hear of something — a trigger — you explore it and you discover," says Kunal Kapoor, trustee, Prithvi Theatre, referring to the ever-evolving, continuous process of curating the city's much-loved Prithvi Festival. Starting tomorrow, the theatre lover's mecca in Juhu will play host to 26 performances over 11 days, with the Jalandhar-based Nooran Sisters, practitioners of the Mirasi music tradition, flagging off the event.

With performances featuring an unusual blend of Indian and western forms of dance, and a recital bringing together two different periods of Western music, fusion seems like one of the themes for this year's edition.

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Kunal Kapoor
Kunal Kapoor

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"All art is at some point is fusion — influences and experiences cannot be ignored in the creative process. It's a healthy sign; it means the arts are alive and growing," says Kapoor. At the festival's core, of course, is a line-up of plays with six premiere productions and five fringe theatre plays along with discussions by veteran theatre personalities including Girish Karnad and Alyque Padamsee. Can't get out of work early on all 11 days? Here's our dossier of the best picks, sights and sounds from the festival.
ON: November 3 to 13
AT: Prithvi Theatre and Prithvi House, Janki Kutir Juhu Church Road, Juhu.
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Fusion all the way
Kathak and flamenco seem like chalk and cheese, but shift your eyes to just the foot-tapping and the similarities begin to dawn on you. "It's been established that the roots of flamenco can be traced back to Rajasthan. It was the gypsies from the region who travelled to eastern Europe before finally settling in Spain," says Aditi Bhagwat, who has been trained in the Jaipur gharana of Kathak. Bhagwat and flamenco artiste Kunal Om will present Flamenco Katha, a fusion dance, where they will weave together the two art forms to the beats of the tabla and cajón, a per-cussion instrument from Peru, along with the violin and harmonium.

Another interesting fusion performance is Baroque Meets The Beatles, a music recital by the Symphony Orchestra of India, featuring works by masters of the Baroque period, Bach, Vivaldi and Handel. The programme will also fea-ture popular songs re-composed in the style of the Baroque masters.
ON: November 4, 6 pm

From the veterans
Senior theatrewallahs, whose association with the venue goes way back, will present new productions at the festival, including Makarand Deshpande's Spot On, about what happens when scientists go on strike; Arghya Lahiri's Iron, set in a women's prison, and Naseeruddin Shah's reading of his favourite poems in English and Hindustani.
ON: Through the festival
LOG ON TO: prithvitheatre.org

Experimentally novel
Catch the premiere show of Without a Song by Divya Jagdale (in pic), which revolves around a married couple that can't look at the world the same way any more. Another fringe theatre production to watch out for is Naha Le Re Bhai. Directed by Chitransh Pawar, it is a satire on the the Indian judicial system and draws from a real-life scenario, where a woman, whose husband refuses to have a bath, files a divorce petition against him.
ON: November 8, 7 pm (Without A Song)

Ramleela with a difference
It may be 70 years since Partition, but examples like these are a reminder of how political boundaries seldom translate into cultural barriers. At the first-ever performance of Shri Shraddha Ramlila in Mumbai, viewers can expect dialogues like 'Banunga kahar ki bijli, sharara maut ka doonga; mita kar safa-e-hasti se unko aaj dum loonga.' The award-winning Faridabad-based group, known for its Ramleela in a mix of Urdu and Hindi, owes the unique script to its founders, who migrated from what is now Pakistan and brought along with them the beauty of Urdu couplets.

"The production is called Ramleela: War Against Evil. Our aim is to portray the victory of good over evil throughout the course of the play, through smaller instances involving other characters as well, and not just at the end, which is what is typically associated with the epic," shares Ankit Makhija. The 12-day run has been adapted for the festival into a six-hour performance.
ON: November 12, 3 pm onwards

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