Thiruvananthapuram to host a crowd-funded dance and theatre festival from March 10

The three-day festival will be held at The Art Infinite at Akkulam and will feature nine productions in addition to open mic events, stand-up comedy and slam poetry

March 03, 2023 11:13 am | Updated 11:34 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Scene from the play (A)Maya by Aravind TM and  Laia Campama.

Scene from the play (A)Maya by Aravind TM and  Laia Campama. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Theatre, dance, music, poetry, puppetry… There is a lot in store at a crowd-funded dance and theatre festival, which begins on March 10 at The Art Infinite, a space for art at Akkulam.

The three-day festival, FOK!T, has been conceptualised by six independent artistes — classical dancer and actor Devaki Rajendran, actor and musician Anoop Mohandas, classical dancer and teacher Sibi Sudarsan, and theatre practitioners Aravind T M, Prajith K Prasad and Laia Campama. Nine performances will be staged at the event in addition to music performances, stand-up comedy and slam poetry.

(From left) Anoop Mohandas, Aravind TM, Prajith K Prasad, Devaki Rajendran,  Sibi Sudarsan and Laia Campama, the independent artists behind the crowdfunded dance and theatre festival in Thiruvananthapuram.

(From left) Anoop Mohandas, Aravind TM, Prajith K Prasad, Devaki Rajendran, Sibi Sudarsan and Laia Campama, the independent artists behind the crowdfunded dance and theatre festival in Thiruvananthapuram. | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

“Getting a stage has always been a struggle for independent artistes. So we decided to create that platform ourselves,” says Devaki, who has acted in movies such as Sleeplessly Yours, Malik and Saudi Vellakka. “If a change has to come, we thought we have to do it and that’s how the festival was conceptualised. It will also be an opportunity for like-minded artistes and performers to interact with each other.”

According to Anoop, the main problem artistes face is the lack of infrastructure to stage a performance. “It is a struggle to get a space to even rehearse, let alone perform. As for the existing venues, we can’t afford to pay the rent,” he says.

The artists point out that it is the small groups and individual artistes who find it difficult to showcase their works. “The same artistes keep getting invited to the same event year after year. Even in the case of experimental productions, the preference is mostly given to established names or troupes. While young talent, especially classical dancers, get opportunities to perform in cities such as Bengaluru or Chennai, the scene is not that encouraging in Kerala,” Devaki says.


Pappisorai | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRAGEMENT

The number of theatre festivals have also come down with even some of the prestigious ones conducted in the State are leaving the stage. The curtain seems to have fallen on a theatre festival organised by the Department of Information and Public Relations, Government of Kerala, and one conducted by Abhinaya Theatre Research Centre, says Aravind, an alumnus of Moveo Physical Theatre and Corporeal Mime Centre, Spain.

Preethi Bharadwaj in her experimental production Me and My Trash 

Preethi Bharadwaj in her experimental production Me and My Trash  | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

“We have struggled on numerous occasions to find a space to hold rehearsals. And if at all we stage a production, good quality sound system, lighting and other aspects are hard to come by,” he says. He is presenting a production with Laia, a fellow student from Moveo. “We studied physical theatre and at the end of our course we have to come up with a production. We are presenting that at the event,” says Laia.

On the stage
The plays to be staged at the festival are Banerjee Babu, Udal, Pappisorai, Avishkaram, (A)Maya, and Pets of Anarchy.
Banerjee Babu is a light-hearted play about the simple joys of life presented by Space of Act, Kerala and Kissago Theatre, Hyderabad.
Udal, featuring Dileep Chilanka of Chilanka Theatre Lab, is about how people are discriminated on the basis of various factors.
Pappisorai is a production of Cognizance Puppet Theatre, Athlete Kayikanadakavedhi and Minnadam. The play directed by Aliyar Ali brings together theatre, shadow puppetry and music through the story of a real-life couple, of Malu and Momo. Pappisorai is a usage in the language of Irula tribe of Attappady.
While Avishkaram is the Malayalam adaptation of Vaclav Havel’s Audience created by am Theatre Collective, Pets of Anarchy, is an independent adaptation of Frank Pavloff’s Brown Morning, directed by Sam George.
(A)Maya, a production by Aravind and Laia, is about two characters who are on different journeys and their interactions.
Dance productions at the festival are ‘Manasikara’ by Devika Sajeevan and ‘Otta’ by Thudippu Dance Foundation.
Me and My Trash created by Chennai-based Preethi Bharadwaj connects art, trash and humanity as she brings together theatre, puppetry, poetry and story telling.

Prajith, who studied at Intercultural Theatre Institute in Singapore, observes that theatre is a space to forge friendships. “Six of us are together because of theatre. We want FOK!T to be a platform for creative minds to come together. Since we announced about the festival on social media, there has been an overwhelming response.”

Pets Of Anarchy

Pets Of Anarchy | Photo Credit: Bivin Lal

The Art Infinite, where the fete will be held, is run by Sibi, an alumnus of Kalakshetra, on his family property. He started it in 2018 in Vazhuthacaud as a space to bring together all forms of art and constructed the new space at Akkulam last year. “We hold classes, workshops and art-related events and it is also used as a rehearsal space. When we decided to hold a fete, we realised that several artistes have been waiting for such a stage. Some are ready to perform without any remuneration. There are enough performers to make it a week-long festival. But we wanted to take it ahead slowly, and decided to have it for three days,” says Sibi.

A scene from Banerjee Babu

A scene from Banerjee Babu | Photo Credit: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT

Crowd-funding was an ambitious idea, they all agree. “But there has been tremendous support from all quarters, including our families,” Anoop says. He adds that they want to change the perception that theatre is only for the intellectual crowd. “We want the young crowd to come in and that’s why there are realistic as well as experimental works at the festival,” he says.

Devika Sajeevan

Devika Sajeevan | Photo Credit: Bivin Lal

Tickets are available on Rate is ₹999 for the full festival and ₹499 for daily pass. For details, contact


March 10: Banerjee Babu, Udal, Pappisorai; March 11: Avishkaram, (A)Maya, Manasikara; March 12: Me and My Trash, Otta, Petsof Anarchy. Performances begin at 6pm on all days

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