The Changing Order
When Loren McIntyre, a National Geographic photographer, went to shoot a little-known tribe in the deep Amazon rainforest in 1969, he did not expect a life-changing encounter that would bring the limits of human consciousness into startling focus. Theatre performer Simon McBurney presents McIntyre’s experiences in The Encounter, a solo show that incorporates innovative technology to give audiences — including those online— a perspective of the shifting world of sound.
Lost and Found
After houseful shows in several cities, Matthew Sharp brings the adventures of Tommy Foggo – Superhero to your laptop screen. Tommy’s story begins with waiting at a bus stop, just as his mum had asked him to — except that she never shows up. “It felt to Tommy like he’d been stuck there for a zillion years, even after he’d been taken to live in the children’s home. And then, one day, he runs away to the seaside, where he finds Destino, a talking cello with a mission,” says Sharp, ace actor, cellist and baritone. A multimedia story of a life saved by music, Tommy Foggo involves a terrifying Kraken of the Deep and the Queen of Lost Atlantis. Based on a true story, it has been written by Martin Riley, with music composed by Stephen Deazley.
Around the World
Olivier award-winning director Bijan Sheibani helms the Barber Shop Chronicles, poet-playwright Inua Ellams’ “smash-hit play about the places where banter can be barbed, and the truth always is telling”. The script takes the audience on a journey through a barber shop in Peckham, UK, to Johannesburg, Harare, Kampala, Lagos and Accra in one day. Critics have described this National Theatre production as heart-warming, hilarious and insightful.
Celebrating the Masters
A number of well-known stories are brought to life through a performance webinar, featuring artistes joining in from home to play their parts. Coming up are Manto’s celebrated works, Nangi Awazein on May 19 and Khol Do on May 20; and Gulzar’s Takseem on May 21 and Dhuaan on May 22. The performances are directed by Abhijeet Choudhary of Swatantra Theatre. On the Facebook page of Swatantra Theatre.
Lessons on Theatre
The National School of Drama in Delhi made the best of the lockdown by offering theatre lovers and practitioners a chance to update their knowledge of the art form. A webinar, curated by the school, ranges from theatre history and criticism to various training methodology. On May 19, 4 pm, Santanu Bose will conduct the webinar on the topic ‘World Drama’. Available recordings feature Abhilash Pillai talking about devised theatre and Abdul Latif Khatana on ‘Social Integration and Self Development of Children through Drama and Theatre’, while Hema Singh teaches the basics of speech. From S Manoharan, you get to hear about sound and video technology in theatre, while Suman Vaidya takes you through the finer points of festival management and Rajesh Tailang talks about the challenges of Hindi diction for those who speak the language and those who do not.
His Master’s Voice | New Delhi
British historian and “art detective” Bendor Grosvenor knows tough times call for radical measures. If our sleep cycles are an anxious mess during this pandemic, Grosvenor’s new podcast is meant to get listeners nodding off, with a nugget of art history in place of a lullaby. Art History at Bedtime, which launched a month ago, has 11 episodes so far. Each is dedicated to historical texts on the masters, such as Giotto, Leonardo da Vinci, Caravaggio and Botticelli. Grosvenor writes in his blog Art History News that the idea for his podcast “grew out of my bedtime story voice, which I have developed over the years of trying to get the Deputy Editor off to sleep”. The podcast thus centres on the self-isolating art historian’s steady narration, with little else to distract a somnambulant listener. And if the last thing you hear about in your day is about Botticelli’s Venus, then so be it. Art History at Bedtime is free and available on several podcast platforms.
Into Lalique’s World
French designer René Lalique (1860-1945) was famed for his contributions to the Art Nouveau movement, creating intricate jewellery that brought together the natural and the fantastical. The designer was also known for his mastery over glass, and created automobile mascots for leading companies. Get to know more about the wonderful world of Lalique in a webinar hosted by auction house Saffronart. Gemmologist Rui Galopim de Carvalho will take the audience through a visual and virtual journey through the vast Lalique collection in Lisbon and also discuss the designer’s signature jewellery masterpieces. The session will be moderated by Minal Vazirani, co-founder of Saffronart. ‘René Lalique: A Gemmologist’s Perspective’ will be held on May 20 at 6.30 pm. To register, click here.
Passing it On
A growing, democratic network of art sales has emerged on social media through the efforts of Art Chain India. Artists Ayesha Singh and Purvai Rai, with Pranati Kapur and Natasha Jeyasingh as advisors, have started this peer-support movement, which hopes to relieve some of the financial pressures that artists may be in today because of the pandemic crisis. In this initiative, artists share their work priced at or under Rs 10,000 on their respective social media platforms, using the pledge hashtag #ArtChainIndia. Once they reach a goal of selling worth Rs 50,000, they use at least 20 per cent of that money to buy the work of another artist who has pledged work under the same hashtag. The initiative is a nod to the Artist Support Pledge movement in multiple countries.
The pledge has more than 1,000 works till date, spanning a variety of media, and is open to the public. There is no curation, no gallery representation and no commissions, with purchases handled directly between buyers and artists. Guidelines for artists interested in joining the pledge are available on Art Chain India’s website and on Instagram @artchainindia. Pledged works can be viewed under the hashtag #ArtChainIndia on social media.
In Their Studios
The series #ArtForHope is taking art connoisseurs into the studios and homes of artists. Initiated by Delhi-based Art Alive Gallery on its Instagram page, it has artists talking about working during the lockdown and the present times. There is Anjolie Ela Menon in her living room converted into a makeshift studio, sharing how she only has a small empty canvas left, and Jogen Chowdhury in Kolkata sharing drawings that “depict a fierce fight between the human kind and the virus”. Usually spending summer in his studio in Anthe, south of France, Sakti Burman is in Delhi due to the lockdown this year — he is dividing his time between reading and painting. Jayasri Burman, meanwhile, is seen on her work desk, painting the watercolour My Universe. “In these disturbing times, harmony is extremely important. We should not leave hope to lead a healthy life. My work is about Dharitri, the Universe, which has been suffering and we must take care of her,” she notes. For more information, click here.
Kolkata-based Emami Art and Kolkata Centre of Creativity (KCC) are hosting ‘Extend A Hand’, a series of online exhibitions. Featuring 120 artworks by 36 established and up-and-coming artists, a percentage from the proceeds from the sale will be directed “towards rehabilitating communities that are suffering due to the outbreak of COVID-19”. The showcase includes paintings, sculptures and installations priced between Rs 10,000 to 2 lakh. Among others is Arpana Caur’s 1995 etching Boundaries for Rs 45,000, Jayashree Chakravarty’s untitled acrylic and ink on paper for Rs 80,000 and Somnath Hore’s 1995 ink and wash on paper, Kirtan, priced Rs 55,000. Two of Jogen Chowdhury’s 2019 mixed media on paper are priced Rs 85,000 each. For more details, click here.
For the Artist in You
The Kiran Nadar Museum of Art has launched several online initiatives to educate and engage the audience at home. While DIY worksheets have sketches of masterpieces that can be coloured, DIY Saturday workshops are largely based on craft activities. Regular webinars are also being organised, as are interactive storytelling session. Budding artists up to the age of 18 can participate in “Mask-a-thon”, a drawing competition where art by the winners will be printed on masks and distributed. Log in here.
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As we cook our way through the COVID-19 lockdown, social media timelines are flooded with photos of food. If you’ve recently discovered how much you enjoy making and photographing food, or even if only the latter, sign up for Mumbai-based blogger and food photographer Vinayak Grover’s e-workshop, which is designed for beginners. The fee for the workshop (on May 23) is Rs 1,500. For further details, send a direct message to Grover on his Instagram account @lost.and.hungry.
Food writer Rushina Munshaw Ghildiyal is hosting a series of educational talks about food on her Instagram account all through this week. These include one on spices in Ayurveda by blogger and stylist Amrita Rana on May 19, one on masala trails around the world by actor and food writer Kunal Vijayakar on May 20, and one by Ghildiyal herself on the evolution of masalas from artisanal to packaged commodities on May 20. The full schedule with details is available on her Instagram page @rushinamg.
There’s no shortage of illuminating content online right now. Shubhra Chatterji, culinary researcher and writer, has been running a series of food history talks called ‘History on a Plate’ on her Instagram account for the last one month. This week’s talks include chef Jyoti Vishnani on pickles on May 20 and blogger Shanti Petiwala on Bohri cuisine on May 22. The full schedule with details is available on the @historywali Instagram page.
Hungama hai kyon barpa, thodi si jo pee li hai
Daakaa toh nahin daalaa chori toh nahi ki hai
When popular poet Akbar Allahabadi wrote this ghazal, many thought it was about alcohol and how a Muslim man’s attempt at drinking had created a furore. It wasn’t. The composition in raag Darbari Kanhada, made popular by Pakistani ghazal maestro Ghulam Ali, was actually written as a political piece describing the social context. Allahabadi didn’t want the Partition and was aiming at Hindu-Muslim unity. He wrote this ghazal as a reference to members of the Muslim League approaching the British against the wishes of the Congress and that causing a ruckus. The piece, with its undertones and references, was a repartee. The famous ghazal will be showcased alongside other exclusive recordings of Ali’s ghazals in an online concert. These previously unreleased videos will be shown for the first time, and all the proceeds will be used to sanitise public places and hospitals. Titled ‘Ek Ehsaas with Ghulam Ali’, the concert will stream on May 24 at 7 pm. Ticket price: Rs 354. For details log onto bookmyshow.com.
Online Music Baithaks
A slew of Indian classical artistes will feature this week in an initiative by HCL Baithak, which has taken the onus of doing regular online concerts. On May 20, Indo-American flautist Rasika Shekhar will take centre stage. Trained in Carnatic and Hindustani classical, Shekhar had found attention when she toured with Ut Ghulam Ali as a vocalist in 2011. She then went on to becoming a playback singer in Bollywood and worked with Shankar Ehsaan Loy for a while before taking up flute full-time.
On May 22, Hindustani classical vocalist Shubha Mudgal will take the mantle of taking the audience through her world of khayal and some lilting thumris. Her training rooted in a diverse background — she learned under the tutelage of Pandit Ramashreya Jha, Professor Vinay Chandra Maudgalya, Pandit Vasant Thakar and stalwarts like Pandit Kumar Gandharva, Pandit Jitendra Abhisheki and Vidushi Naina Devi — has always allowed her to dwell on a variety of musical styles. On May 25, Nirali Karthik of the music duo Maati Baani, who usually fuses classical music with an array of sounds from around the globe, will take those tuning in, into an interesting world of ragas and riyaaz. The concerts will be live on Facebook on the page ‘HCL Digital Concerts’ and are free.
Bollywood playback singer Sonu Nigam will do his second virtual concert from Dubai, where he is stationed right now. The 47-year-old singer, who began his career by accompanying his singer father at weddings and parties, later trained under Ustad Gulam Mustafa Khan and has sung some of the most popular songs of Bollywood in the past two decades. He will be singing a variety of his own songs and like most of his concerts, is likely to pay a tribute to the golden era. The concert will be live on May 23 at 7 pm. Tickets are priced at Rs 470. More details on bookmyshow.com.
The Young and the Rousing
About 18 musicians have come together for Raag Mantra Music Foundation’s online live concerts. Sitarist Anupama Bhagwat (May 24), violinists Danish Ali (May 24) and Suhail Ali Khan (May 29), among others, will be live streaming their concerts, 6 pm onwards. While Bhagwat trained under Bimalendu Mukherjee (Pt Buddhadev Mukherjee’s father) of the Imdadkhani gharana and attempts the ‘Vilayatkhani baaj’ on the sitar, her playing combines a rare combination of technical mastery and evocative lyricality. Danish Ali is from Delhi gharana and is the grandson of Ut Mohammad Ali Khan, known for his expertise in sursagar and sarangi. He learned violin from his uncle Ut Aleem Khan. Suhail, the sarangi player in the list, also comes from a distinguished lineage. He is the grandson of sarangi maestro Ut Sabri Khan and spent many years playing for Delhi-based band Advaita. Details on bookmyshow.com.
From the Archives
Due to the lockdown, most of the national archives of music and dance have been opened for public viewing. Mumbai-based National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) is regularly curating various concerts and announcing them at the beginning of every week. The upcoming streams, which can all be viewed free of cost, include a performance by Yuval Cohen Sextet on May 21, which a part of NCPA International Jazz Festival 2019. The six-piece group from Israel, combines western Romantic music with traditional jazz and sounds from Israel, and is known for its unique instrumentation. On May 22, you can listen to the director, poet and lyricist Gulzar recite his translations of Rabindranath Tagore’s poetry. On May 23, watch Symphony Orchestra of India present Russian composer Igor Stravinsky’s orchestral concert work Petrushka, which is also presented as a ballet otherwise. The performance was recorded in September 2019 at the NCPA. On May 24, legendary Kathak dancer Kumudini Lakhia’s dance company Kadamb can be seen performing the piece Designs of Space of Time. This was recorded in October 2019. For details, click here.
Into the Magic Land
Accompany James and enter a giant, magical peach along with actors Chris and Liam Hemsworth, Ryan Reynolds, Meryl Streep and Benedict Cumberbatch, among others, who are part of a group reading of Roald Dahl’s beloved classic James and the Giant Peach, from their homes. Oscar-winning filmmaker Taika Waititi is teaming up with the Roald Dahl Story Company to recreate the story in 10 installments. In the first episode, the Hemsworth brothers play Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker, while Streep and Cumberbatch take on the roles of the evil aunts in the second. The episodes are available to view on the Roald Dahl YouTube channel, with remaining installments to be released every Monday, Wednesday and Friday.
After two successful online workshops, on how to write a book manuscript, indie publisher Yoda Press has announced two more. To be conducted on June 12 and 19, in these, founder editor Arpita Das will guide one on how to convert and restructure their PhD thesis into a publishable manuscript. Those interested can write to email@example.com with your PhD abstract in order to apply.
Pakistani-Canadian writer and speaker Samra Zafar, known for her book A Good Wife, a memoir on her early marriage and domestic abuse, will speak on the rise of domestic violence cases during the lockdown, as part of Penguin Random House India’s #SpeakUp initiative. The month-old series, which highlights issues faced by women across the globe heightened during the pandemic, will end on May 25, with this conversation at 9 pm, on Penguin India’s Facebook page.
Nature and Nonsense
Taking Cub’s online literature series for children #FUNtasticBookWeekends, in collaboration with Storyteller Bookstore and LBB India, is coming to an end this week. On May 23, Prerna Bindra will talk about conservation and tigers and read from her book When I Grow Up I Want to be a Tiger, and on May 24, translator Arunava Sinha will talk about nonsense poems and stories, Sukumar Ray’s writings, and read from the forthcoming book Habber-Jabber-Law, which will be released later this month.
This week’s #TranslationThursdays session will be with author and translator Lawrence Schimel. He writes in both Spanish and English and has published over 120 books, including fiction, poetry, graphic novels and children’s literature. The award-winning writer’s translations in Spanish include graphic novel They Called us Enemy by George Takei, rhyming board book Tú eres tú by Richard van Camp and Julie Flett, among others. On May 21, 7 pm, register here.
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