Moving stories

Moving stories

The 38th Vikram Sarabhai International Arts Festival explores the idea of displacement — both in society and at a personal level

Mallika Sarabhai in a scene from the play
Mallika Sarabhai in a scene from the play

Located on the banks of Sabarmati in Ahmedabad, the Darpana Academy of Performing Arts saw nearly 35,000 people displaced from the area due to the ongoing riverfront development project. “People like you and I are unlikely to go through this kind of displacement. They have been subjected to the most deplorable conditions in the name of rehabilitation,” says director Mallika Sarabhai.
Wanting to initiate a dialogue on this issue, Sarabhai has dedicated this year’s Vikram Sarabhai International Arts Festival — an annual event organised by Darpana — to the theme of displacement.
The festival, however, looks to explore the subject at multiple levels. While displacement due to industrialisation and building of dams will be addressed in The Dammed, another piece — by Sarabhai herself — titled Unearthed, looks at an internal shift from self. “This displacement is intimate, it’s on a more personal level. We find ourselves falling prey to societal expectations, questions such as ‘who am I’, ‘what am I doing’ often plague our minds,” she explains.
Consequently, the forms of both the pieces differ. The Dammed, a play by London-based Dutch choreographer Naomi Deira, uses a visual motif throughout that is based on the Khandwa Jal Satyagraha, where farmers protested by standing in neck-deep water for days together. Sarabhai’s piece is based on a short story by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The theatre production makes use of masks and puppetry to tell the story of a castaway trapped in a foreign land. “Marquez’s writing uses magic realism, thus it was important to bring in those elements through physical theatre,” Sarabhai says.
A third production that is part of the festival, titled LDR, explores another facet of displacement caused by a long distance relationship. The performance by Revanta Sarabhai, looks at love and longing caused when a partner moves away for better job prospects.
The festival took place at the Nehru Centre.


All play this summer

Mumbai city’s favourite annual children’s theatre festival, Summertime, is back. Launched in 1991 by Prithvi Theatre with an aim to nurture and encourage a younger audience in theatre, this year’s edition will begin April 25 and spread across the months of May and June at the Juhu theatre hub.
The lineup for Summertime 2014 includes 24 productions for all ages including a three-day act by Rambo Circus following the World Circus Day celebrations along with many premiering plays. 14 exciting workshops for children between the ages 6-16, are also a part of the festival. Conducted by professionals from various fields of arts and theatre, these include sessions on three-pin juggling, mime and movement, acting for theatre, writing and imagination, storytelling with props and puppets, to having fun with language and science. Registrations opened recently. For details visit

Workshop Picks
* So You Want To Act? (Age 10-16): Sunil Shanbag
* Lose Your Mind, Use Your Body! (Age 10-12): Faezeh Jalali
* Imaginative Story Writing (Age 10-16 ): Makarand Deshpande
* Creative Movement Workshop (Age 8-12): Yuki Ellias
*Juggling (Age 10-16): Timira Gupta