The writer experiences urbanism in all its chaotic artistry at The Park’s New Festival.
All things urban — existence and identity, chaos and culture, sound and scape — were among the prime explorations in this edition of The Park’s New Festival. The festival is now travelling to five cities from its home-ground in Chennai.
Under a dim blue light, a five-piece band, whose nucleus is a voice that sings as well as tells a story, was staging the final act this year. A Moment of Mishearing by the Amit Chaudhuri Band unravelled as an honest and unfussy narrative that used the audio-visual medium to intersperse each song with a story, allowing viewers to connect a visual landscape to the text and texture of each piece.
Eclectic in form and experimental in technique, the four acts — a set of eight short plays by Chennai-based StrayFactory, a dancelogue by the Attakalari Repertory Company, a contemporary dance performance by The Kha Foundation and a mixed media musical essay by the Amit Chaudhuri Band — resonated with a common strain. The heart of their matter was urban-ism and its many facets.
Two Thursdays ago, at a warehouse in Thoraipakkam, on Chennai’s IT Corridor, a surprisingly large group of people gathered to watch AadhaaraChakra, a dialogue in dance that freely merges past and present and rural and urban scapes through movements, music and multimedia. It captured the chaos and confusion of the metropolis, equally inhabited by architecture, automobiles and cows, along with human traffic. As an attempt to also create a “mental landscape and articulate the story of a location, a few characters, their experiences and memories,” AadhaaraChakra worked primarily also because of its setting. Outside, people jostled and aggressively manoeuvred their way through the rush-hour traffic while people at the show, sweating under the heat of the asbestos roof, watched a group of trained dancers physicalise that struggle for existence.
Two days later, the boys from Bangalore — Deepak Kurki along with two dancers from the Kha Foundation — took the stage at the Museum Theatre to present a work that has been in the making for over 18 months.
Presented last year at the same spot, where a small crowd watched NH7 as a work-in-progress, Deepak and his team won the PECDA award. In its attempt to physicalise the rapidity of urban migration and highlighting the reality of city life and its constant need to re-build and refurbish, NH7 scores for its idea, earthiness and slice-of-life treatment. Unfortunately, though, like the evolving landscape it attempts to depict, the work seems to have lost the original, honest sparkle that won it an award and abundant praise.
The opening act was a series of short acts — five, to be exact —telling many a story; from political satire to the lure and magic of cinema. Conceived and presented by StrayFactory, these short acts that freely mix Tamil and English are also representative of the Glo-Cal Culture that’s the current buzzword now.
Like research and identity stories that are rooted in the local culture but treat and narrate them in a way they can appeal, across the globe.
Romba Cool, indeed!