The unbeatable lightness of stage

From plays and talks to games and musical performances, Ranga Shankara Theatre Festival 2019 brings artistic talents from across the country

The ongoing Ranga Shankara’s Theatre Festival 2019 is centred on the theme of Milan Kundera’s novel: The Book of Laughter and Forgetting. “We have borrowed the title of the book and renamed the theme as The Festival of Laughter and Forgetting,” says Nimi Ravindran, co-founder of Sandbox Collective, an-all woman led artistic collective, which will be curating the festival this year. “It took us six months to put the festival together. We received 170 entrants, out of which we selected the plays,” says Nimi. She adds: “We chose this theme as we wondered as artistes what should be our response to the state of the country?” Kundera’s novel is a collection of seven vignettes revolving around characters in Europe during the era of Russian occupation. “Even though the novel was written in the 1970s, its universal and is relevant even today,” says Nimi.

The Festival this year has a medley of artistic expressions, besides plays.


Rihla, directed by Neel Chaudhuri, presented by Aagaaz Theatre Trust will be staged on November 6. Rihla is an adaptation of Andreas Flourakis’ award-winning play I Want a Country . A crisis leads to a group of young people charting out the course for a new country.

On November 7, Hello Farmaaish, directed by Yuki Ellias and presented by Dur Se Brothers, will be staged. The play is inspired by the intrepid Kalpana Chawla, a group of enterprising women embark on a whimsical adventure from a small Haryanvi settlement into Outer Space, and back again.

On November 8, Sangeet Bari, directed by Savitri Medhatul and presented by Kali Billi Productions, will be staged in Hindi and Marathi. Sangeet Bari is a documentary style theatre production that aims to let the Lavani woman take center stage, to sing, dance, enthrall and entice as she shares with us her fascinating story.

On November 9, The Hunger Artist by Aum Yash Kendra, will be staged in Marathi, Hindi and English. The play is inspired by Kafka’s A Hunger Artist and Namdeo Dhasal’s Bhook. Inside a steel cage, the hunger artist makes a living by fasting. Outside, we, the well-fed, watch on. This is the story of cotton pickers, the story of the great fast, and the story of anonymous childhoods.

On November 10, Abhishek Majumdar’s Eidgah Ke Jinnat, directed by Abhishek Majumdar and presented by Bhasha Centre, will be staged in Hindi and Urdu. Interweaving true stories and testimonies with Islamic storytelling, the play paints a magical portrait of a generation of radicalised kids, and a beautiful landscape lost to conflict.

Anju’s cafe

Will create dish of the day based on the performance of the day and the region of origin, apart from her regular snacks and beverages.


Nimi talks about the three talks that will be delivered by Justice Nagamohan Das, Aarthi Parthasarathy and Jahnvi Phalkey. Nimi says: “Justice Nagamohan Das been rooting for social reforms keeping the common man in mind and he is also a great advocate of the Constitution, it is the first thing everyone should read. Aarthi will be giving a talk on the subversive nature of comics and zines and how the comic industry has shaped and given voice to people who haven’t been given a voice. The talk by Jahnavi, founding director of Science Gallery Bengaluru, on women who shaped science and technology, and how and why their contribution always go unnoticed.”


An interactive and participatory game ‘Made to Order’ by Fields of View, a Bengaluru-based non-profit research organisation, which uses games and simulations to help make better policies.


There will be on display a bioscope music installation by Indian Music Experience, based on films songs that reference ‘laughter’.

Art works

On display will be an art installation by The Aravani Art Project. “It is a mural based on the transgender ‘clap’ and through the art work they aim to subvert the stereotype of it,” says Nimi. Also on view is Declaration of Empathy, artist Sandeep TK. Then there is Around the World, which is artwork from across the globe based on the theme of ‘Laughter and Forgetting’.

Shankar Nag Award for Young Theatre Worker – 2019

Ranga Shankara’s The Shankar Nag Theatre Award is an annual national prize for a theatre all-rounder below the age of 40. Someone who embodies the spirit of service to the larger vision of theatre in India, besides being a joyous theatre-maker. Instituted in 2014, the award carries a citation and a purse of ₹ 1 lakh. This year the award goes to theatre director from Kerala, Sankar Venkateswaran.

The festival will be held till November 10. The play will be held at 7.30 pm every day. There will only be one show of each performance. However, the evening’s activities will be held from 6.30 pm. Tickets are priced ₹ 200 and are available at the Ranga Shankara Box Office and

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