Reclaiming the Margins is the core focus of ITFOK 2018 to be held at Thrissur
The neologism herstory aims to highlight that ‘his’tory is a biased narrative. A deeper enquiry into the argument reveals that it’s not just women who have been denied a voice in the popular annals. Hence, in the modern art discourses, we see a struggle to bring out the ideas which were till now not heard or
“As the International Theatre Festival of Kerala (ITFOK) turns 10, we chose the theme ‘Reclaiming the Margins’. This edition will be a platform for voices, peoples and ideas that are suppressed, dismissed or otherwise undervalued,” says Rajiv Krishnan, on behalf of the three-member directorate.
Keeping up with the global art scene, the 10-day festival at the Sangeetha Nataka Akademi campus in Thrissur will feature 16 international plays from four continents alongside an equal number of Indian showcases. We take a look at a few plays that bring issues which are slowly finding or are yet to find a niche alongside the popular modern discourses revolving around gender, sexuality, and caste.
My Body Welsh
A collaborative project by UK-based Invertigo Theatre Company, The Conker Group, and Pontio Arts Centre, this play highlights an oppressive history from within the United Kingdom. The tale of a boy trying to unfurl the mystery of bones found in a well moves through Welsh history and myth.
On a wider prospect, this uncovers questions on individualism and patriotism, and what it means to have a relationship with your homeland.
“The piece questions the basis for nationalism and looks at how seemingly firm foundations for our beliefs may turn out to be a lot more fluid than we think. My Body Welsh looks at the role shared stories play in creating our history and our sense of national identity,” says performer Steffan Donnelly, who also co-wrote the play with Tara Robinson, whom he met while working at the famous Shakespeare’s Globe theatre.
With the team also consisting of a live soundscape artist, the audience will get to draw parallels with linguistic and regional groups within India who are keen on imposing ideas of cultural nationalism.
Lal Batti Express
Dramatic art is believed to have a cathartic effect on the audience; meaning it purges one of all emotions. Women’s rights NGO Kranti, however, believes in the healing power their 50-minutes-long interactive performance has on their cast who are children of sex workers from Mumbai’s red-light district.
“Nobody will sit and have coffee with a sex worker and ask about their life but plenty of people watch theatre. Putting their tales into a theatrical form helps the girls bring their narrative out to the people,” says the co-founder of the group,Robin Chaurasiya.
The two-year-old piece—which constantly evolves with changing members—has travelled to places like the US and UK and has played diverse venues from Edinburgh festival to juvenile homes.
“Besides being from this community, all the girls are either Dalits or Muslims. So, we try and get them involved in as many social justice issues as possible including pride parades,” says Robin, about the tales of the people who occupy the fringes of the marginalised communities in India.
Facilitated by Jaya Iyer, the group leans on tools used by the theatre of the oppressed and stresses on social change through gestures like questionnaires before and after the show.
It’s been over two years since Alan Kurdi’s photograph shook people around the world up. Keralites got a direct encounter with the West Asian unrest through artist Raul Zurita’s In the Sea of Pain piece (at the Biennale) and the narratives don’t stop.
Iranian director Nazanin Sahamizadeh’s Manus documents the life of seven men through the style of verbatim theatre (constructed from the precise words spoken by people interviewed).
UK-based Borderline features refugee actors to give the narrative a first-hand touch and Palestine, Year Zero also brings in the harm done to Palestinian homes through mass displacement.
Taking a cue from the current political atmosphere, other performances such as Maranamatch offer creative responses to state control.
Eminent figures including director A Mangai and actor M K Raina will curate discussions on topics ranging from gender to creative elements in resistance theatre in the country.
Also, expect Kerala’s own cultural expressions such as kanyar kali and paliya nritham to be showcased at the venue.