Serendipity Arts Festival 2018: Where dance and performative arts will take centre stage
The focus this year in several of the performance events will be looking at gender issues, as well as LGBTQ+ community.
India’s first multi-disciplinary arts event, the Serendipity Arts Festival 2018 takes Panaji, Goa by storm from the 15-22 December 2018, with over 90 dynamic projects highlighting India’s rich traditions of music, dance and theatre, alongside culinary arts, craft, and visual arts exhibitions. Dance forms and performative arts from South India will take centre stage at the 2018 festival.
The focus this year in several of the performance events will be looking at gender issues, as well as LGBTQ+ community, examining the challenges and pressure of heteronormative societies, considering their impact on contemporary India and confronting the laws which question the legitimacy of diverse sexualities. Examining effects on artistic practice, looking at the work of LGBTQ+ movements across the country, and their role in mobilising public awareness and community consciousness about equal and fair rights for citizens. The panel will be one of the first of its kind in the country. Projects such as Parayan Maranna Kadhakal, Queen-size, Gentlemen’s Club and Lavani Queens… Double Mazaa! are some of the productions at the Festival that will address these themes.
Spotlight on the Margins is a three-part dialogue which addresses issues around the transgender community including a panel discussion, interviews with members of the community and performance by transgender artists on their stories titled Parayan Maranna Kadhakal (conceptualised by Arundhati Nag), are integral elements of this year’s the theatre discipline. Furthering the core objectives of this year’s theatre curation, this project offers a platform for performances which reflect the realities of marginalised people whilst also addressing pertinent social issues.
Celebrated Bollywood actress, director, theatre professional and Bangalore cultural icon Arundhati Nag founder of the Rangashankara, curates the Festival’s theatre discipline this year with Atul Kumar, actor, director, founder and Artistic Director of The Company Theatre.
One of the key objectives of this year’s Serendipity Arts Festival is to be a catalyst for cross-cultural exchange, fostering a sense of unity across disciplines and art forms whilst also erasing regional divisions in the country. Offering equal opportunities to artists, artisans, indigenous and folk art forms, performers and other creative practitioners from all over India, the event aims to foster the development of thriving artistic communities across India by making the arts inclusive, educational and accessible.
Furthering her children’s theatre programmes at the Ranga Shankara Bangalore, which for the first time presented a series of plays for toddlers and young audiences, Arundhati Nag curates one of the highlights of this year’s theatre discipline will be the specially designed plays for children. Theatre for Early Years and Dinner is at 8, explore sound, colour, and objects to emulate play, instigating multi-modal learning and understanding through the use of sensory mediums. The performances are designed to inspire very young imaginations, from ages 2-5. These projects are an integral part of the Festival programming which aims to be inclusive and engaging a range of audience demographics.
This year’s dance and theatre programmes will also have a particular emphasis on Southern Indian arts and dance, curated by Chennai based Bharatanatyam dancer, choreographer, instructor and Padma Shri recipient Leela Samson and Ranjana Dave, Odissi dancer and arts writer. The dance discipline at this year’s festival engages almost all traditional forms of Indian dance, including folk. The projects will have an interdisciplinary focus and intend to explore interrelationships between the performing and visual arts, venturing into alternate spaces, and emphasising gesture and the body.
Highlights of this year’s dance projects include, To Die Upon a Kiss: An Adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello, led by Sadanam Balakrishnan, performed in Kathakali; Karnatic Kattaikuttu, uniting Karnatic music involving eminent musicians including TM Krishna and Kanchipuram based P. Rajagopal from Kattaikkuttu Sangam. An enthralling Kuchipudi performance by Jaikishore Mosalikanti, Abhanga Ranga, a presentation that captures the spirit of the Varkari saints of Maharashtra through the medium of Bharatanatyam, Nidravathwam by Adishakti Theatre Arts presenting vignettes of the Ramayana, and Karalsman, a unique Chavittu Natakam performance originating from 16th Century Kerala.
Other programming highlights include shadow puppetry traditions from across the country, an interpretation of the Mahabharata, curated by Arundhati Nag as part of the theatre projects, and also Akshayambara a feminine representation of the Yakshagana, male-dominated theatre form from Karnataka also curated by Arundhati Nag. About this year’s edition and participation of artists from across the country Ms. Smriti Rajgarhia, Director, Serendipity Arts Festival said: “One of our key objectives at the Serendipity Arts Festival is to unite the country through the arts. We want to ensure that we represent and showcase rural and folk art forms from all regions and thus offer diverse opportunities for arts engagement, across demographics and communities. The festival truly celebrates
our rich artistic heritage, and we hope that this will foster cultural growth and energise contemporary practice not just in Goa but across the country. We’re delighted to present this year's Festival with 1300 artists from across India.”
The primary initiative of the Serendipity Arts Foundation a non-profit organisation with a vision of energising arts production, awareness and practice across South Asia, the Serendipity Arts Festival is now in its third edition. In previous years, the event energised Goa’s cultural milieu, attracting more than 400,000 visitors, with dynamic projects that included internationally acclaimed performances highlighting India’s rich traditions of music, dance and theatre, alongside culinary arts, craft, and visual arts exhibitions.
This year the Festival will take place across 10 venues in Goa and involve over 1300 artists, transforming Panaji into a vibrant cultural space with multiple exhibitions, performances and immersive arts experiences.
Serendipity Arts Festival is the only art event in India which unites the creative disciplines, committed to creating tangible change across the country’s cultural spectrum by engaging the public and increasing awareness of how art can impact society. It also aims to foster the development of thriving artistic communities across India by making the arts inclusive, educational and accessible.
Projects at the Festival will be further activated by diverse collateral programming including panel discussions, children’s programmes, and workshops for the differently abled. These initiatives are an integral part of the Foundation’s key mission of making the arts accessible and developing arts audiences both in numbers and in diversity.
2018 Festival curators:
Photography: Rahaab Allana and Ravi Agarwal | Visual Arts: Ranjit Hoskote and Subodh Gupta | Culinary Arts:Rahul Akerkar and Odette Mascarenhas | Dance: Leela Samson and Ranjana Dave | Theatre: Atul Kumar and Arundhati Nag | Music: Aneesh Pradhan and Sneha Khanwalkar | Craft: Annapurna Garimella and Rashmi Varma
The 90 projects this year will be accompanied by a series of Special Projects including St+art Goa by the St+art India Foundation, Out of Turn curated by Asia Art Archive and Meenakshi Thirukode and a Film Programme curated by Sabeena Gadihoke.
Arundhati Nag is Creative Director of Ranga Shankara. Ranga Shankara (www.rangashankara.org) a theatre in Bangalore, dedicated solely to dramatics. Only the second such space in India (after Prithvi Theatre), Ranga Shankara has, with its show-a-day policy, changed the way theatre is viewed and performed in Bangalore. As its Creative Director, Arundhati oversees every aspect of Ranga Shankara from Programming and Operations. The possibilities that Ranga Shankara has opened up are endless and ever-lasting. Arundhati has also pioneered a unique Theatre For Children programme called AHA! that makes theatre a part of a child’s life. She is Managing Trustee of Sanket Trust, almost single-handedly, raised the necessary funds to build Ranga Shankara, perhaps the only project of its nature in the country today, built entirely on donations and run with huge subsidies for the performing and audience communities.
For over 40 years, Arundhati has also been an actor. She has performed over 1000 shows in five languages in both amateur and professional theatre, winning several accolades along the way. Arundhati was David Lean’s Assistant Director for “A Passage to India”. She also assisted and wrote Hindi dialogues for the legendary TV Serial “Malgudi Days”, based on R K Narayan’s novel, directed by
Shankar Nag. She serves on the advisory boards of several national level institutions.
Atul Kumar is The Company Theatre’s Founder Member and Artistic Director. An acclaimed actor and director with more than 25 years of stage experience, Atul has dabbled with different languages and forms of theatre and has showcased his work all over India and abroad. His basic performance training was in the traditional Indian Dance and Martial Art forms of Kathakali and Kalaripayattu in Kerala. He also learnt from his various travels abroad where he got to work with Compagnie Philippe Genty in Paris- France & Sacramento Theatre Company in California, USA. Atul was recently invited by Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in the UK to direct for their International Theatre Festival. Amongst many grants, he has been awarded French Cultural Fellowship, Charles Wallace Scholarship and Chevening Fellowship to develop his theatre pursuits in Europe.
He has served as a steering committee member of the International Network for Cultural Diversity, Canada and often participates in conferences, seminars and forums that are concerned with larger issues of art and culture. Atul also occasionally works in film and television