The writer experiences urbanism in all its chaotic artistry at The Park’s New Festival.
All things urban — existence and identity, chaos and culture, sound and scape — were among the prime explorations in this edition of The Park’s New Festival. The festival is now travelling to five cities from its home-ground in Chennai.
Under a dim blue light, a five-piece band, whose nucleus is a voice that sings as well as tells a story, was staging the final act this year. A Moment of Mishearing by the Amit Chaudhuri Band unravelled as an honest and unfussy narrative that used the audio-visual medium to intersperse each song with a story, allowing viewers to connect a visual landscape to the text and texture of each piece. [read more on The Hindu]
Mesmerizing dance moves, heart-warming music and enthralling theatrical performances – entertainment is set to come full circle right in the city. The Park’s New Festivalcomes down to the city with its contemporary performance arts festival. Organized by The Park Hotels and conceptualized by Prakriti Foundation, the festival will be in the city from September 17 to 19.
The fest kicked off in Chennai on August 24 and will wind up in Kolkata after travelling through Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai and Delhi. Entering its seventh edition, the festival promises to promote local and global talent. This year the artists include Amit Chaudhuri, Deepak Kurki and Sandeep John.
“India has a rich heritage. In keeping with our commitment to promote contemporary art and culture, The Park Hotels is back with the seventh edition of The Park’s New Festival. This year, the platform will be open for both international and local artists who will present excellent pieces of engaging acts,” said Priya Paul, chairperson, Apeejay Surrendra Park Hotels.
Amit Chadhuri’s ‘a moment of mishearing’, an audio-visual narrative which has received arts award from the Arts Council of England will be a major highlight in Kolkata on September 19 besides a cluster of small plays by Stray Factory on September 17 and contemporary dance performance by Deepak Kurki the following day. “The Park’s New Festival brings together international and local artistes together at a world class forum to celebrate art, expression, creativity and culture. Our partnership with The Park Hotels has been a fulfilling journey since our maiden act and we hope to continue our association for the years to come,” said Ranvir Shah, founder, Prakriti Foundation and the curator of the festival.
[Source: Times of India]
The Mint covers The Park’s New Festival 2013:
The seventh edition of Prakriti’s much awaited contemporary performance arts festival, The Park’s New Festival 2013, promises to be a visual and musical treat. The festival will travel to five cities—Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata—after opening in Chennai on 24 August. The festival ends on 19 September. It is perhaps the only festival that is dedicated to contemporary art forms in India today.Ranvir Shah, founder of Prakriti Foundation and curator of the festival, says, “Since its inception in 2007, the festival has been bringing together artistes from across India and the world and has created a world-class platform to perform and celebrate artistic expression.”This year the line-up of performers includes Amit Chaudhuri, Deepak Kurki Shivaswamy and Stray Factory. Amit Chaudhuri’s piece, A Moment of Mishearing, is an award-winning audio-visual concert that uses mixed media to create a musical that blends Indian music with blues, jazz and even Western pop classics. Speaking about creating the piece, Chaudhuri says, “The start of this piece happened perchance when I one morning realized that I could hear our ragas in Western classical music. This lead me on a journey of new discovery and the concert, A Moment of Mishearing.”
Here’s a ‘snapshot’ view of all the coverage we have been getting.
The fifth edition of The Park’s New Festival began in Chennai on August 29, following which the festival will tour Delhi, Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Mumbai and Kolkata. Conceptualised and curated by the Park Hotels and Prakriti Foundation, the festival’s aim is to promote emerging and new artistes. [Link]
In a city hailed as the Mecca of classical music and dance, but where the contemporary is still seeking venues for self-expression, The Park’s New Festival is a much-appreciated platform for multidisciplinary creativity of the moment. Curated by Ranvir Shah of Prakriti Foundation, the Festival is now into its sixth edition — and third year as a multi-city festival beyond Chennai — and looks at different forms of artistry including contemporary dance, music, puppetry, even stand-up comedy.
Shah, who is the artistic director of the New Festival, had previously co-curated The Other Festival for nine years. Explaining his impetus for a new iteration of an arts festival, he says: “I felt the time had come for us in India to look at ourselves, through the prism of the self and not that of the other. How we could engage with this new global/local India was an exciting idea for me to review and curate. I like to keep my curatorial narrative as being still engaged with the New India, through artists who are either based in India, or inspired and plugged into the source of India’s performing arts.”
Lasting typically between three to six days, the duration may be short and sweet but the programming aims to be experimental and provocative. Headlining this year’s performance is the Akram Khan Dance Company, who will present Gnosis. Khan searches within his twin classical and contemporary roots to present a piece about the human struggle, inspired by the story of Gandhari from the Mahabharata.
Other acts include music by the troupe of clarinettist and composer Shankar Tucker; theatre performance by Sri Lankan-American D’Lo; a retelling of Girish Karnad’s Hayavadana by The Industrial Theatre Co. and the play Chinese Coffee by the Hosruba Repertory.
In Mumbai, the festival will take place from September 9 to 11.
September 9: Shankar Tucker & Troupe (for invitees only) at the Blue Frog at 8 pm.
September 10: Theatre – D’Funqt by D’Lo (ticketed) at St. Andrews auditorium at 8 pm.
September 11: Akram Khan Dance Company (ticketed) at St. Andrews auditorium at 8 pm.
Business runs in his blood but Ranvir Shah is no ordinary businessman. Apart from overseeing his myriad family businesses, adding to which is a new restaurant, Ranvir Shah is an artist at heart and in time has become one of its foremost patrons in India. He heads the Prakriti Foundation in Chennai, which he found in 1998.
An Arts based organisation, the Prakriti Foundation is now a well-reckoned institution in Tamil Nadu and has been playing a pivotal role in defining and enlarging the cultural scene in Chennai. There are eight different types of festivals that the Foundation has been organising along with its other activities in the Arts. One of the foundation’s prominent festivals which Ranvir has been curating is the Park’s New Festival.
The Park’s New Festival celebrates contemporary performances and art from across the globe and it is the only kind of its festival in India today. Moreover, the festival is now being presented in six cities across India in association with the Park Hotels. Mumbai audiences will have an opportunity to enjoy this festival in the second week of September.
Deepa Punjani (DP): When and how did you get involved with the Arts? In one of our conversations, you said you had an earlier life as an actor and if I am recall correctly, you had mentioned that you had worked with people like Chandralekha and Anita Ratnam.
Ranvir Shah (RS): Since my childhood I have been involved with the Arts. My mother used to play the Sitar when we were young and my father was an amateur actor in his youth. In college, while I was in Bombay, I used to win prizes for solo mime and my ambition in life was to study under Marcel Marceau. However, that did not come to pass, but I did meet him in the early 80s. I started doing amateur acting on stage as well as producing small plays when I moved to Chennai in the early 80s. I got busy with work, and it became difficult to find time for acting and rehearsals and hence I got involved with presenting. I ideated and co-curated the Other Festival with Anita Ratnam for 9 years. With Chandraleka, I was just deeply inspired by her and had a chance to watch some of her productions. She was also very gracious and allowed me to do my first theatre production of A.K.Ramanujam’s – “The Interior Landscape” at her place in 1984. I also worked with her on one show called Bhinna Pravah which was about confluence and I helped her with costumes.
DP: What led you to form the Prakriti foundation?
RS: For the longest time ever I had a dream that I wanted to start an Arts group or an Arts organisation. 15 years ago, my driver had a sudden cardiac arrest and died. He was about the same age as me. I realized I could not do anything to help him or save his life. You have to go when you have to go. That is when I decided I would not wait till I retire to start a Foundation, even though I had little money to do the things. For the first year we started with a friend giving a lecture at my house, in the second year we also had a lecture in an Art Gallery of a friend. Today we do eight annual festivals, have organised over 150 events with lectures, book launches, etc. We do some publishing too. I think one has to believe in the maximum, and as they say, “find a purpose, the means will follow.”
DP: What was the vision behind the Park’s New festival?
RS: We want to show new India the new kind of cultural engagements we are in the process of making, and extending from music, dance, theatre to the visual arts. We are finding creative new ways to express the context of our times. Art is inspired mostly by the times in which it is created, but it is also inspired by the past and looks ahead into the future. This is the dream of my curatorial narrative for the Park’s New Festival.
DP: Along with the Park’s New Festival, the Prakriti foundation is involved with a number of other activities and events, which have gained prominence too. What is your single, defining masterwork among all of these?
RS: I can’t say that I have one single defining moment.It is like having many children and each one is special and each one has its own unique talent. All our eight festivals are differently themed, and reach out to different areas in the Arts. For instance, The Festival of Sacred Music at Thiruvaiyaru on the banks of River Cauvery wishes to expose people to the various forms of music, help local artisans find more outlets to increase revenues and get local musicians to perform more often so that the town can become a destination for tourists, and for people who once hailed from this area to come by more often and for artistes to find their own space. We have plans to bring musicians performing sacred music from all parts of India and abroad.
DP: How has the Park’s New festival grown over the years?
RS: The Park’s New Festival started from being only presented in Chennai, then we went for two years to Delhi; from year 4, we have gone national by going to 4 cities and last year we have done a six city circuit which is now set for the next few years. I curate all the performances myself because it is important that there is a certain link. This year we are presenting three performers who will represent how they are engaged with India even though they are living elsewhere. Shankar Tucker creates new music with Indian musicians and he is a clarinetist trained with Hariprasad Chaurasia. D’ Lo talks about dealing with alternative sexuality which is something that is slowly being talked about in India, and Akram Khan reinvents Kathak for us, to show us what can be done with tradition and contemporary work when they met at the crossroads of inspiration.
DP: You’re an idealist, in spite of being a Shah. How do you source your funds devoted to the cause of the Arts?
RS: Yes, I am a complete romantic idealist. I believe that one’s life has been given for a higher purpose and if one has the privilege to do so, one must constantly challenge one’s self to seek out those transitory moments of beauty and truth. For the last 15 years I have been supported by few close friends and family and I put in my funds to fill the gap. Those were huge gaps. Slowly with more people knowing about the Foundation and its activities, the gap reduces. For several festivals we are getting help from the Govt. and the Ministry of Culture. So, all this talk in the Art world that we have about the Govt. not helping, is not true. One has to know how to apply for funds and run a legitimate organisation to access them.
DP: At a time when the future of theatre festivals all over the world is tormented and unpredictable, what is the future of privately funded art?
RS: I don’t think festivals all over the world are going through a difficult phase. The truth is that the world is going through a recessionary cycle and as always culture is last on the priority list of funding. The only way we will pull through this is by having enough people in Govt., and in Corporate who are visionaries and understand that the role of culture defines the future of a community and society. From the mother source of all cultures, comes inspiration and alternative thinking and from that new ideas emerge. It is only through new ideas that civilization achieves progress and finally, peace.
DP: Your finest moment at your own festival?
RS: There are many moments at every festival and I will share some of them with you. Standing ovation for all of Maya Krishna Rao’s shows last year in all six cities. Desi hip-hop across all cities being completely lapped up by young people. Standing ovation for Aruna Sairam and Dominique Vellard when they sang songs from Soundarya Lahari and Gregorian chants. Mallika Sarabhai opening the New Festival at the Museum Theatre where her mother performed at the age of 4 in a school play. The fact that Akram Khan remembered me from his trip in 2002 and decided to tour India once more with us after having reached the top of his career.
DP: Any cautionary tales that a festival director must keep in mind?
RS: The only thing that I need constantly reminding of and this is something that all festival directors need to keep in mind is that, it is very easy to be indulgent, patronizing and superior. One has to be open, listen to one’s audience and the performers and also be able to receive criticism. I see the positives in all these and that has allowed me to be grounded. One must always remember that it is the festival where you provide a crucible for the magical alchemy to take place between the performer and the audience. My role or that of any festival director is to be that catalyst and enabler.
(as published on Mumbai Theatre Guide)
The Park’s New Festival will be starting in Chennai before it starts on its tour of the country. The festival features Shankar Tucker the creator of Shrutibox on YouTube who has taken the world by storm, D’Lo a queer stand up comedian will be giving an intimate theatre performance of her life and how she dealt with it, last but certainly not the least we have Akram Khan who opened the London Olympics this year.
In Chennai we have a special treat as we have two theatre performances by Hayavadana and Chinese coffee
Have you gotten your tickets from http://indianstage.in?