ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival 2018 – Staging Literature

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Theatre, Dance and Performance Poetry at the 11th edition of the Festival

Jaipur: The ZEE Jaipur Literature Festival 2018 is set to explore the symbiosis of literature and the performing arts, enriched by the flavours of theatre, music, dance, and performance poetry in its eclectic bouquet of sessions.

Marking its worldwide premier as part of the 70-year celebration of India’s independence and the UK India Year of Culture, The Troth, presented by Akademi, the UK’s leading producer of Indian dance, is based on a 1915 short story, Usne Kaha Tha by Chandradhar Sharma Guleri. The Troth unfolds the tale of Sardar Lehna Singh’s sacrifice and unrequited love amid the horror of the trenches of Belgium while weaving together the integral part played by Indian soldiers in the Allied war effort.  Award-winning choreographer Gary Clarke unfolds the poignant narrative through contemporary dance, evocative music and archival film. An intense silent film experience, audiences travel from the repose of rural Punjab in late 1800s to the strife-torn bloodied Belgian trenches.

This is part of the Reimagine India programme supported by The Arts Council of England & the British Council. The Troth features some of the UK’s most exciting and versatile young dancers.

In The Real Thing, Sir Tom Stoppard is in conversation with well-known theatre personality Sanjna Kapoor. Stoppard, one of the greatest living playwrights who has written prolifically for the stage, TV and film, is the author of seminal works such as Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead, Travesties, Every Good Boy Deserves a Favor, Arcadia, Jumpers, The Real Thing and The Invention of Love. He is also the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Shakespeare in Love and The Russia House and recipient of as many as four Tony awards. Stoppard, who began his career as a journalist and a drama critic, has been a key playwright of the Royal National Theatre and one of the most internationally performed dramatists of his generation.

The artistic intensity and heady perfection of dance come alive at the Festival’s session, The Dancer and the Dance, where virtuoso danseuse Sonal Mansingh and biographer Sujata Prasad are in conversation. In A Life Like No Other, Mansingh speaks of the legacy of three dance forms—Bharatanatyam, Odissi and Chhau—as well as the evolution of the classical arts in post-Independence India and her kaleidoscopic life which she continues to live with keenness and unparalleled creativity.

In On Page, On Stage and On Screen, Julia Donaldson, author of the bestselling children’s book The Gruffalo, actor Daryl Shute and Julia’s husband and pediatrician Malcolm Donaldson are in conversation with Nupur Paiva on the vibrant and exuberant parallel world for young readers that The Gruffalo has created. In a joyous session of storytelling, performance and recitation, Donaldson speaks of writing for children, the strong performative element in her work and the process of transforming The Gruffalo and other books into film by Magic Light Pictures.

The Festival programme also pays tribute to the drama of the stage and the legacy of the playwright. Globe to Globe: Why Shakespeare Works in Every Country of the World is a wildly exciting session where former artistic director of the historic Globe Theatre, Dominic Dromgoole unfolds an incredible journey. For the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare’s birth, the Globe Theatre in London undertook an unparalleled journey to share Hamlet with the entire world. A brainchild of Dromgoole, ‘Hamlet Globe to Globe’ is a tour and an unprecedented experience which in two years has covered 190,000 miles in 197 countries. From performing in sweltering deserts, capital and remote cities, heaving marketplaces and on Pacific islands, despite food poisoning in Mexico, the threat of ambush in Somaliland, an Ebola epidemic in West Africa and political upheaval in Ukraine, the Globe’s players tirelessly pushed on, carrying their own props, instruments and costumes throughout and constructing entire sets in less than two hours. At the Festival, Dromgoole will introduce his sturdy and impressive cast, recount the highs and lows of their tour and through the lens of this epic theatrical journey, discuss why Hamlet, and Shakespeare in general, has such fascinating universal appeal transcending barriers both temporal and geographical, and glean new insight into Shakespeare’s masterpiece, exploring the play’s history, its meaning, and its pleasures, and offering a dramatic and heartfelt testament to Shakespeare’s enduring presence on the modern stage.

Performance poetry is a focus at the Festival with Girls Are Coming Out of the Woods, which promises to be a remarkable showcase—half dance, half reading—by one of India’s most acclaimed and talented young poets. In the fascinating session milk and honey, Instapoet and the toast of the internet generation, Rupi Kaur performs for audiences and demonstrates what makes her an unprecedented phenomenon. And then there’s Performance with Janice Pariat, Jeet Thayil, Jovan Mays, Melizarani T. Selva and Nathalie Handal, introduced by John Freeman, where six of the most dazzling performance poets are let loose on the Charbagh stage. Fireworks are certainly expected!

So, tighten your seatbelts and get ready to witness of the best of stories in motion!