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10 Festive things to look forward to

Ganesh Chaturthi and Eid mark the beginnings of the Festive Season. Though in theatre terms, the Festive season starts with Navroze, given the number of plays that are created and staged for the Parsee New Year. Whatever your denomination, the theatre season kicks off BIG time post the rains. This year for the second time in a row, there is no Prithvi Festival. But even then there is a hellavalot of activity happening in the ‘season’. So here are a list of festivals, and festivities to look forward in the coming months.

1) Nehru Centre Theatre Festival: 19th September to 26th September. Nehru Centre, Worli.
This is probably the worst marketed festival in the city. The schedule is STILL not public knowledge. However, it is a well funded festival, so the scale of productions that is invited from all over India is often quite large. What’s more is the festival is free…as in no tickets. You have to collect your passes a week before the festival though, and this often means that people pick up passes but don’t actually show up, leading to a lot of empty seats. But if you really want to see the big guys of theatre, then this is the festival to catch.

2) IIT Theatre Festival: 30th September to 2nd October. IIT Campus, Powai.
This is one of those festivals that has just grown and grown. It started when Ramu Ramanathan the catalyst among theatre wallahs convinced a group of IIT students that since they have the space and the interest they should host a theatre festival. It started as a humble enough enterprise but in the last few years has become one of the festivals that Bombay theatre groups really look forward to. Powai is generally a culturally barren place when it comes to theatre. Although a wonderfully active suburb, the lack of a good performance venue makes it hard for audiences there to access plays that happen in other parts of the city. The IIT festival is a good remedy for such inequities. This year the line up is still being formed, but it promises to be fun.

3) Short & Sweet: 2nd to 9th October. NCPA, Nariman Point.
A new entry on the calendar this year. After three workshops in acting, directing and writing, and 3 grueling days of auditions, Short & Sweet Mumbai is finally making it's appearance. Plays of only 10 minutes in length, and it is sure to throw up lots of new writing and acting talent. A new experiments and should be quite fun, for audience and practitioner alike.

4) Literature Live: 4th to 6th November. NCPA, Nariman Point.
Why the hell is a literature festival part of this list. Because unlike other Lit Fests this one has a whole section demarcated for performances. Last year saw Elkunchwar’s Necropolis, a one man performance of the Kite Runner and the festival highlight Matthew Sharp’s Johnny’s Midnight Goggles. This year promises to be as exciting. Vijay Tendulkar’s Ramprahar is set to make a come back to Bombay, and so is Matthew Sharp with the sequel to JMG – Finkelstein’s Castle. Should be some exciting performances during the fest, so watch out for the full schedule when it is announced sometime in October.

5) Celebrate Bandra: 15th to 28th November, Bandra.
It happens every two years. And each time it grows bigger and better. It is easily the closest thing that the city has to a community festival. Last times highlights included a huge ‘waterfall’ of plastic bottles and a ball of plastic bags on the bandstand rocks. The theatre events took part in the beautiful and not well known HUL garden. This year too should throw up some interesting and exciting performances.

6) Centrestage: 18th to 28th November, NCPA, Nariman Point.
Last year the NCPA finally debuted their own theatre festival. Commissioning new work to be staged across the ten day extravaganza. While the audiences didn’t quite flock to the festival, the productions premiered there have gone on to gain strong reputations all over the country. Aaj Rang Hai, Chakra, Interview, all premiered at Centrestage 2010. This year’s edition promises new productions by an exciting bunch of directors. Nipun Dharamadhikari returns, so does Akarsh Khurana with Baghdad Wedding and rumour has it that Naseeruddin Shah is also coming to the party with a new project. The festival opens with Mindwalking, a British aerial production about a Parsee man who moved to the UK in the 50s.

7) Thespo 13: 13th December to 18th December. NCPA & Prithvi.
December means Thespo. The festival turns teenager, and along with pimples and armpit hair there should be some excellent theatre. The line up is still not announced, but the workshops are already quite exciting. Ronald Rand from New York and Kipper Tie theatre company from the UK. This promises to be the most exciting Thespo yet.

8) Mumbai International Arts Festival – January, various venues
The brain child of Alan Tweedy, this festival promises to be among the largest and most diverse arts festivals the city has ever seen. With venues spread out across the city, the festival will embrace a variety of disciplines – music, art and theatre. Look out for being surprised by performance when you least expect it, and a great line up of international performers.

9) Writer’s Bloc: 8th January onwards. NCPA & Prithvi.
The grand daddy of all writing initiatives is back for version 3.0. After two very successful festivals in 2004 and 2007, the RAGE-Royal Court Theatre workshop cum festival is back. Word on the street is that this year’s line up of plays promises to be the best yet. Some stalwarts like Purva Naresh are joined by newbies like Aakash Mohimen. And new found writing stars like Neil Chaudhary and Sid Kumar are also part of the gang. And then there is the tsunamis from Pune – Sagar Deshmukh and co. So it should be an exciting festival to watch, participate in and just hang out at.
 110) Kala Ghoda Arts Festival – February 2012, Kala Ghoda.
For many years KGAF was a festival where ‘a few performances happened’. Last year however they stepped it up a notch. While losing the Horniman Circle Gardens as a venue they bounced back with two spaces. Madam Cama Hall and National Gallery of Modern Art. The theatre section of the festival became extremely vibrant, and the crowd at each show is testament to the success of the idea. Hopefully the same will be repeated this year. And the south side of the city can look forward to another exciting theatre event.

That’s the ten. There might be others that kick up over the next few weeks. All said and done some festivals might be better than others, but there is no denying that it looks like an exciting coming few months.