13th International Theatre Festival of Kerala begins at Thrissur

10-day cultural extravaganza with ‘Humanity must Unite’ theme


February 6, 2023

/ By / New Delhi

13th International Theatre Festival of Kerala begins at Thrissur

13th edition of International Threatre Festival of Kerala returned after a two-year gap due to Covid-19 pandemic

Featuring 10 international and 14 Indian plays, the 13th International Theatre Festival of Kerala got off to a flying start in Thrissur in Kerala.

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The 13th edition of International Threatre Festival of Kerala returned after a two-year interruption due to Covid-19 pandemic. To start off the event was a performance by a percussion ensemble of 101 artists led by Sangeetha Nadaka Akademi chairman Mattannur Sankaran Kutty Marar. The 10-day festival is being organised under the theme Humanity must unite.

The opening day saw the presentation of the South African play Samson, which portrays a contemporary interpretation of the Biblical character Samson, in the international section. The play is directed by Brett Bailey.

Kerala Chief Minister

Pinarayi Vijayan

At the opening of festival, the government of Kerala announced that Thrissur will be the venue for a 15-day international festival of theatre, literature, music, dance and cinema from next year. ‘‘Thrissur is the cultural capital of the State and it is the best place to hold such a festival that will attract the attention of the world countries,’’ said Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan at the inauguration.

Theatre in Kerala has helped a new renaissance and many revolutions for the betterment of women and downtrodden, the Chief Minister said, and added his government had been extending every possible help to revive theatre and music. The artistes were being given financial help in time of need, he said. Such international theatre festivals will help revive a political will and social responsibility in the society, he added.

Cultural Affairs Minister Saji Cheriyan.

Saji Cheriyan

‘‘The Lalitha Kala Academy is playing the pivotal role in Organising the Theatre festival. We have Kerala Kalamandalam and Fine Arts College in Thrissur. So Thrissur is the right place to hold the International festival with putting together all under one umbrella,’’ says Cultural Affairs Minister Saji Cheriyan.

The organisers say that the festival’s curatorial theme “Humanity Must Unite” proclaiming the desire and need to embrace the human spirit after long solitary times. Anuradha Kapur, Deepan Sivaraman, and B Ananthakrishnan are the curators of the 13th edition.  According to a press statement, this reclamation edition features productions from masters of theatre like Peter Brook, Eugenio Barba, Romeo Castelucci and Brett Bailey. Colloquium, workshops, public lectures, and allied events like performance poetry and traditional art performances are the other highlights of this year’s festival.

Besides the 10 international plays, the festival also features four Malayalam plays, and 10 plays from the rest of India. The international plays are from a diverse mix of countries including Italy, Denmark, Palestine, Taiwan, France, South Africa, Lebanon and the UK. One of the highlights is the play Tempest project’ directed by Peter Brook and Marie-Helene Estienne, which will be staged in India for the first time. The director himself has stated that the play appears to be sentimental and pallid on stage. Eugenio Barba’s ‘Ave Maria’ is a play dedicated to Chilean actress Maria Cànepa, who passed in 2006. The whole play itself is like a liturgy and funeral dance in her honour. Another play to watch out for is ‘Samson’,  a work deeply invested in the socio-politics of South Africa, directed by Brett Bailey. Then there are plays by contemporary legends such as Romeo Castellucci from Italy, Eugenio Barba from Denmark and Palestinian playwright and director Bashar Markus. Of the 10 international productions, five are coming directly from the Festival d’ Avignon. There are two plays for children – Hero Beauty, an opera from Taiwan, and Maya Bazaar, staged by Telangana-based Surabhi. The grand finale will be Royston Abel’s Manganiyar Seduction, which has toured 33 countries.

The festival is enhanced by introducing a platform to discuss various issues of social importance. Professor of Philosophy Sundar Sarukkai, Theatre director Neelam Mansingh, Academic Shiv Viswanathan, Theatre activist Mangai and MK Rania will be presenting a series of talks that will focus on different aspects of theatre and its practice.

There will be also a public lecture session featuring Artist-poet Ghulam Mohammed Shiekh, Poet Satchidanandan, South African sociologist Ari Sitas, Actor Prakash Raj and Author Mukund Rao, GN Devy as some of their main speakers.

Artist-in-conversation session will focus on Directors and actors of the plays participating in interactive sessions with the public wherein they discuss the aesthetics of the play, theme and their performance.

ITFoK is also organising a Master class theatre workshop for women in association with the Kerala Institute of Local Administration and Kudumbashree at KILA.

The curatorial team of ITFoK will conduct a Theatre Pedagogy session to discuss the study of theatre, and its academic curriculum as an interaction with 15 leading theatre practitioners.



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