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Since 1st March, 1999
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Open up play space

If Kinu Kahar, the rural theatre company owner of Manoj Mitra’s eponymous play had heard of it, he would have loved to meet the finalists of British Council’s Young Creative Entrepreneur awards for performing arts, who were in Calcutta for an awareness tour on May 22 and 23.

But would he be able to communicate his delight to the UK team? Language unfortunately is bound to stand in the way of awards like the International Young Creative Entrepreneur award, which has just included performing arts. Winners from all the countries of the British Council’s international network will get to tour the UK for 10-14 days.

Sitting in one of the open-air niches of the Star terrace, the visiting British finalists, Richard Jordan, Paul Fitzpatrick, Alex Fleetwood, Eleanor Lloyd, Mark Puddle and Kate McGrath, said there was tremendous potential in the young theatre people they met here.

Given a permanent site for five or 10 years, any Calcutta theatre group can with ease come up with amazing performances, they said. They also spoke of the potential of old theatres like Star and Minerva.

None of these producers have a permanent theatre house as base. Working across countries in heritage sites, schools, state buildings, squares and disused basements, most feel the work defined the place and the audience.

If Puddle’s company The Lord Chamberlain’s Men does Shakespeare in large open-air amphitheatres, Fitzpatrick feels children prefer small, enclosed spaces for The Catherine Wheels Theatre Company productions. If flexibility can be worked into heritage theatres like the Star or the Minerva, a lot could be done, they felt.

Cruel intentions

For those who find the world too jaded and uneventful and need to be shocked into an awareness of life’s cruelty, Artaud style, Ogre may just be the thing.

The play, which seeks to link to the theatre of cruelty tradition, is the latest presentation by theatre group Night and Fog that will run at the Padatik Buildwell Theatre from June to August. Started in 2004, the group run by Avisek and Tejeswita Arora has a few interesting original works to its credit like Ragman, The Cage and Fire Walk With Me.

This time they have what they describe as an “extremely graphic and violent play… about a psychological and physical warfare between a bourgeois couple and two clowns until a ‘man without a face’ intervenes”.

The couple, Paul and Kate, are preparing for a weekend of leisure, booze, hash and maybe even an orgy, when the clowns barge in. Over-polite and yet sinister they unleash a “game” that many would find revolting. The adaptability of the Buildwell Theatre to such an experimental production was evident, but one hopes it attains more direction and depth in its final form.

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