In the last few years, the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), Mumbai, India's premiere art and culture institution, has initiated and sustained a cultural movement, by encouraging quality indigenous and regional theatre, expanding the scope of its reach and providing a springboard to reach diverse audiences. Principal among these has been NCPA Pratibimb Marathi Natya Utsav, NCPA Ananda Hindi Theatre Festival, NCPA Cheer! Comedy Festival, NCPA Centrestage Theatre Festival for premiering plays and Vasant: Gujarati Natya Utsav.
Now in its third year, Vasant: Gujarati Natya Utsav, has developed its own character, as a space for offbeat, eclectic Gujarati theatre that goes beyond the mainstream. After successfully showcasing premiering plays for two editions, the NCPA is back with three new offbeat plays from Mumbai and Ahmedabad from March 22 - 24, 2013. From Karl Marx to Krishna to Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, this year's Vasant from is an interesting concoction: from political humour to historical reinterpretation to mythological retelling.
Deepa Gahlot, Head-Programming (Theatre and Film), NCPA says, "The idea was to have mini festivals of plays in the main four languages and then have a big multi-lingual theatre festival at the end of the year. As a viewer and theatre columnist, one complaint I often heard was there is no experimental theatre in Gujarati. Audiences said they craved novelty; theatre practitioners said they wanted to attempt new themes, but the commercial set-up gave them no opportunities. So we decided to give experimental theatre in Gujarati a space at the NCPA and that triggered off new writing and new ways of staging these plays. This was both at Vasant and Centrestage."
Deepa Gahlot though, sees a different challenge for Gujarati theatre. "It may be too big a hope, but it would feel good if a lot more young Gujaratis would find it worthwhile - at least creatively, if not financially - to do theatre in their language."
Karl Marx In Kalbadevi
Friday, 22nd - 6.30 pm (75 mins)
This quirkily titled play combines hard hitting information with humor, sharp politics and sheer delight, with the Gujarati manifesto of economics.
Karl Marx makes a comeback to clear his name, which he feels has been wrongfully maligned. It has come to his knowledge that Socialism and Communism, two words fathered by him, have become dirty words. He wants to tell the word this is not what he meant by them, before the world starts the celebration of his 200th birth anniversary. For some odd reason, he lands up in India, in Mumbai, in Kalbadevi. He waits endlessly for a chance to speak his mind - but in Mumbai no one has the time or inclination to listen to a lecture on economics, politics and philosophy. At last however, he gets this chance through a comic mix up, and he talks about his family and friends, Das Capital and the boil on his butt, as well as the enormous thali he had at Bhagat Tarachand!
Written by Uttam Gada
Directed by Manoj Shah
Cast: Satchit Puranik
An Ideas Unlimited Production
Bahot Nachyo Gopal
Saturday, 23rd - 7.30 pm (120 mins)
This play is made up of a series of seven monologues from the Mahabharata throwing light on the characters and circumstances of Devki, Radha, Rukamani, Sudama, Arjun, Draupadi and Krishna.
Written by Mihir Bhuta
Directed by Darshan Jariwala, Kamlesh Mota and Pratik Gandhi.
Music by Uday Mazumdar
Choreography by Trupti Thakkar
Cast: Mansi Parekh, Bhakti Rathod, Bhamini Oza, Amrita Chowksi, Kamlesh Mota and Pratik Gandhi
A Manhar Gadhia Production
Hu Chhu Mohandas
Sunday, 24th - 6.30 pm (100 mins)
This play looks back at India's history and the days leading up to Independence. It was during this time that Mahatma Gandhi is consistently being criticized by the Hindutva organization for being anti Hindu. He is then killed by Nathuram Godse whose source of inspiration was the Bhagwad Geeta. Surprisingly Gandhi was also a staunch follower of the Geeta. Then why and how did a situation arise where one follower thought it right to kill another?