Drama~Sutra Playwriting Project

Drama~Sutra is an initiative of Nautanki Theatre to contribute contemporary and socially relevant plays to Australian stage and literature.

The entire project runs for a years yielding a number of Australian plays about South Asian diaspora. Project is divided in to 4 phases i.e. ground work, play development, reading and producing. At the end of the year aim of the project is to come up with plays that Nautanki company would like to work further with the playwrights to develop the play with an aim to produce, if possible.

For the year one, Nautanki company will be running this playwriting program under the guidance of John Suter Linton to come up with Australian plays about South Asian Diaspora.

Bellow Australian playwrights from South Asian background will contribute to this program.

Dhananjaya Karunaratne: Playwright

Dhananjaya is a published playwright, director and designer working in both Sri Lanka
and Australia as an independent artist. From his early childhood, Dhananjaya showed an Dhana-Headshotinterest in both painting and drama. However, a deeper affinity with the theatre led him to explore this world through his unique theatre practice.

After moving to Australia, Dhananjaya completed his Master of Creative Arts – Theatre at the University of Wollongong in 2004. He is currently undertaking a Master of Creative Arts – Research.

Roanna Gonsalves: Playwright

Roanna came to Australia as an international student from Mumbai, India. She is the author of The Permanent Resident, an acclaimed collection of short fiction published by Roanna-HeadshotUWAP in November 2016. Her four-part series of radio documentaries, On the tip of a billion tongues, commissioned and broadcast by Earshot, ABC RN, is an acerbic socio-political portrayal of contemporary India through its multilingual writers. She is a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Australia Asia Endeavour Award, and is co-founder co-editor of Southern Crossings.

Roanna has a PhD from the University of New South Wales, and has been facilitating and teaching creative writing workshops for all ages within communities as well as at schools and in the university sector for many years.

Neel Banerjee: Program Co-ordinator

Neel Banerjee (Full name Bengali: ইন্দ্রনীল ব্যানার্জী) is an acclaimed Indian-Australian thespian, writer, producer and director, has been actively involved within the NeelAustralian-Indian theatre scene for more than a decade. He has formal training in both analytical and physical theatre, Tagore Song, Tabla, Indian folk instruments and Chhau Dance and has performed interstate and overseas. Neel’s theatre ambitions lie in the subject matter engaging abstract pleasure and spirituality. He founded Nautanki Theatre (www.nautanki.org.au) in 2012. Nautanki Theatre is a Western Sydney based independent company committed to provide a platform of cultural exchange between migrants from the South Asian Countries and mainstream Australian audiences. Nautanki Theatre’s productions maintain authenticity by showcasing relevant societal issues highlighting the dynamic and evolving culture that has become a trademark of Australia.

Neel is an engineer by profession, studied Bachelor of Engineering in India and later completed his Post Graduate Degree in Business IT from Sydney University.

John Suter Linton: The Guide
John Suter Linton is an author, scriptwriter, journalist, researcher and producer. He began his writing career in radio, then moved to print media and television, both storylining and scriptwriting for such dramas as Sons’and Daughters’, and Neighbours. In 1985 he was accepted into the first year of NIDA’s Playwrights’ Course which ran in conjunction with the Directors’ Course. Over the years John has written extensively for radio and television, both here and in the UK, and written articles, poems, and short-stories for various publications. More recently, John is a published author of six non-fiction books. Throughout his career, John has developed a good sense of storytelling, knowing how to capture the attention and take an audience on a journey with whatever media the story is told. While he admits to still being a student, learning from every writer he reads or whose work he sees, he does count Harold Pinter and Alex Buzo as his two favorite and influential playwrights.

Melodies for Art – About Musicians

Debjani Guha:
Debjani started learning Hawaiian guitar when she was 6 years old. Her mother wanted the daughter to play some musical instrument, though Debjani didn’t like the music and the teacher at her tender age. By age 9 she started picking up more familiar tunes on a tiny 1-octave toy. She got a keyboard from her parents. A year later, Debjani started learning keyboards from Late Amar Nath Laha – her guru/teacher. She struggled hitting the right note with her tender fingers on piano and her family couldn’t afford one. She kept learning music and keyboard but later at her life music took a backseat while Debjani graduated to become an IT professional. She keeps practicing music and humbly remembers her guru taught her -that music instrument bounds no language nor genre; just keep play anything and every style that one possibly can. Debjani’s inspirations have been Yanni, RD Burman, Robert Miles. She would love to run fingers like Ming Freeman someday. Looking back Debjani cherishes the teaching and memory of her first teacher who tuned her to the songs of Tagore that she plays when she is alone at home.

John Napier:
John began his performing life as a virtuoso boy singer, before taking up the cello and studying at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. After graduating and winning that institution’s Medal for Excellence, he became principal cellist of the Queensland Theatre Orchestra. He subsequently moved to Sydney to explore a wider range of music making, eventually taking training in North Indian music with late Pandit Ashok Roy, and working frequently with Sumathi Krishnan. He has performed around Australia, India, New Zealand, UK, Germany, Italy, Japan, China, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Jamaica, the Philippines, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Fiji. He completed a doctorate on accompaniment in North Indian music in 2001, and teaches music history and performance at the University of New South Wales. In 2013 his study of Jogi musicians in Rajasthan, They Sing the Wedding of God, was published, and he is currently working on a study of the music of the Kodava (Coorgs). His most recent major musical works have been as a composer and performer for the Taikoz-Lingalayam production Chi Udaka and the advocacy band Asylum. He appears courtesy of UNSW Australia.

Venkhatesh Sritharan:
Venkhatesh was born into a family blessed with music. His mother Sangeetha Vidwan Varalakshmi Sritharan, a well-known Veena artist in Sri Lanka and Australia. Venkhatesh began to learn flute at the tender age of five under the tutelage of Sri Suthanthiraraj. While continuing to be his student, Venkhatesh was fortunate to have the opportunity to refine his skills under flute maestro Ramani Thiagarajan in Chennai. Venkhatesh also completed his Arangetram – Graduation; along with his sister Saumya Sritharan on Veena. As a promising artiste Venkhatesh has learnt tabla, piano, veena as well as classical vocal and has performed for dance ballets, Arangetrams and has accompanied various light performances. He has just completed his Bachelor of Medical Science degree and hope to balance his career with music.

Abhijit Dan:
Abhijit is a young talented tabla player who started his journey at an early age of 5 years. Tabla, the instrument craved his attention and plunged him into the music world. Abhijit started his first tabla lessons from Shri Harihar Das of Lukhnow Gharana under Prachin Kala Kendra, Chandigarh. Since 1994 Abhijit began his Tabla training from Tabla maestro Pandit Swapan Choudhury of Lukhnow Gharana. Abhijit is a regular Radio and Television artist in India. Besides a tabla player he has also been a good composer and arranger and has launched several albums in India and also performed with good numbers of great musicians from all over the world. Presently he lives in Sydney and is known as one of the best tabla players in Australia.

SADIQ REHMANI
Sadiq is a self-taught musician and singer and started singing and playing guitar during his school days in community and religious functions. Today he is one of the most sought-after guitarists in Sydney. Sadiq’s entire education in music is by the virtue of playing with other musicians and singers, backed up with his perseverance. Professionally, he did his medicine in Pakistan and currently works as an allied health professional in Sydney.

Musicians

2016 an eventful year for Nautanki Theatre

The year didn’t start in January 2016 for Nautanki Theatre Company. I have to go back a few months back in 2015. In fact, for an Independent Theatre Company like Nautanki the calendar is from November to November, almost.

January in 2016 saw the entire production running around in a dying urge of creation. Actors busy doing their lines, creative team designing set, prop and lighting. Lenore Robertson calmly directing the entire ensemble which in later half of January presented 3 successful shows of The Last Dance at Dum Dum by Ayub Khan-Din at Lennox Theatre in Parramatta.

Nautanki company had two successful venture with School kids this year as well. A dance and mask making workshop in April and another workshop in June on Learning Theatre through Games was two great opportunities to work with children and young kids.

While company had a less successful year securing grants but our vision that was set a year ago, was firm. We worked with available resources, planned smartly and decided to concentrate more on our niche audience rather sucking up to the grant officers who are clueless about South Asian Diasporic Theatre. A grant officer while giving me feedback on company’s unsuccessful application suggested that our application could have been better with a community support letter from an Indian organisation. If I were 5-year younger I would call this grant officer a moron and tell him to bugger off but with age my tolerance has grown I suppose. I corrected him not to attached a tag ‘Indian’ with the company and asked whether he would look for a supporting letter from Greek community when some other company decides to present Antigone? I did cut short the conversation after that. I could tell you that grant officer was not embarrassed, he just didn’t understand what I was meaning or where did he stand!

Despite all hardships, we managed to get some support and carried on with 1st South Asian in language Theatre Festival. Two nights of successful presentation of 3 short plays was more than an experience. South Asian community backed the festival well and took the opportunity of seeing 3 plays in language free of charge. The audience failed to understand Pay-As-You-Think concept introduced by Nautanki company however we were able to create a theatre awareness within them. Our community connectors did a fantastic job directing audience to Rafferty’s Theatre for two consecutive shows.

Reema Gillani and Sunny Singh joined in Production and Marketing units of the company in 2016. Avijit Sarkar’s advices on organisation and projects from time to time is greatly appreciated. Manisha Jolie Amin as Executive Director of Nautanki Company still takes my phone calls and answers my questions, she promises to continue doing.

2017 is just around the corner. For Nautanki Theatre Company coming year will be even bigger. We are staring year 2017 by presenting a 10 minutes’ play in Short+Sweet Theatre Festival in 1st week of February followed by playwriting program. Company will have its annual production in August, South Asian Theatre Festival in November, workshops and discussion forums from time to time.

On behalf of Nautanki Theatre Company I wish everyone a happy and safe new year.

~ Neel Banerjee | Artistic Concept Designer, Nautanki Theatre
rehearsal From the rehearsal room of play Still Alive

SATF Introduces the Marathi Play –Ukirda

Nautanki: Could you tell us a little about you and your Theatre group?

Napoleon: I was born in Bombay, in a catholic family. My father was a teacher in Marathi school. He always encouraged us to read books. Somehow I started reading books about dramas and plays. I found it very interesting. In my young age I started acting on stage. When I realised this field is not as easy as I thought, I decided to study more about acting and attended some workshops. I have also participated in one- act-play competitions and once won acting awards on state level. I have also written one- act- plays and won best playwright award.
I migrated to Australia in 1990. I never thought that I will get an opportunity to act and direct plays in Australia, but if you have a will then there is a way and your talent can be used anywhere in the world. I was very happy to hear about Sydney Marathi Association (MASI). They had been presenting a lot of cultural programs including Marathi plays. I joined MASI in 1992. Since then I have performed and directed many plays including some one acts.

Nautanki: How did you get involved with South Asian Theatre Festival 2016?

NapoleonOne day the phone rings “…this is Neel Banerjee speaking”. He introduced himself and told me about Nautanki and what his plans were. I could not believe that Nautanki theatre was giving me an opportunity to perform in their SATF 2016. I said YES to him straightaway without thinking even though I had already one big project in my hand.

Nautanki: How many cast members are there in your play ?

NapoleonWe have 8 cast members in this one act Marathi play. Marathi people are from Maharashtra state of India and they are very proud of cultural plays. Marathi people took their dramatic art all around the world. Marathi plays are more popular in Maharashtra. Casts in this play are very talented and enthusiastic. They are ready to sacrifice anything they can for this art-form.

Nautanki: Why People should come and see Ukirda?

NapoleonRamesh Pawar is a famous playwright in India who writes in Marathi language. In this one act play titled “Ukirda” (Rubbish) he has chosen a very emotional topic about cast-ism in India. How the low caste people get treated by high caste, and how they have to fight for their rights. Why do we ignore God’s creation and follow man made selfish rules. There is a great message to take away for all of us from this play. This play is very cleverly and powerfully presented without using any props on the stage.

nap

Napoleon Almeida is the director of the play Ukirda.

SATF Introduces the Tamil Play –Nettandu

Nautanki: Could you tell us little about you and your Theatre group?

Srini: Sydney Nadaga Priya (SNP) was founded in 2008 by a group of like-minded Tamil drama enthusiasts with the aim of bringing quality Tamil theatre to the Tamil-speaking community in Sydney. While other forms of South Asian performing arts such as classical and contemporary music and dance have enjoyed growing patronage and exposure in Sydney for many years now, there was seen to be a clear dearth of Tamil drama in Sydney and other Australian cities. SNP was formed in part to fill this niche and to showcase contemporary Tamil societal themes and challenges using only local talent.

Nautanki: How did you get involved with South Asian Theatre Festival (SATF) 2016?

Srini: Mr. Neel Banerjee of Nautanki Theatre reached out to SNP early this year with the concept of bringing multiple regional languages under one umbrella and this concept appealed SNP instantly.  We are happy and honoured to be part of this maiden venture.

Nautanki:  How many cast are in your play?

Srini: There are total 5 characters in the play.  A middle aged couple, a Lord and his two ministers.

Nautanki: Why people should come and see Nettandu, The Leap Year?

Srini: Making adjustments/alterations to system and process in something we evidence many do in our daily lives…. What happens in Devalok…the celestial space? A fantasy tale on the concept of leap year is what people can expect to watch.

srini

NK Srini is the playwright and director of the play Nettandu.

SATF Introduces the Bangla Play – A Time Machine

Nautanki: Could you tells us little about your Theatre group?

Asim: Well, our theatre group is really an informal one. We group together with interested participants from the Sydney Bengali community as and when a particular project demands. We’ve been performing Bengali plays at the annual drama festival in Sydney organised by Bengali Association of NSW for the past nine years. We have also performed ten minute English plays at the Short+Sweet Sydney Theatre festival for the last five years. This year we were successful to win our group stage and get into the finals (as top 10 out of 160 plays) at this festival.

Nautanki : How did you get involved with South Asian Theatre Festival (SATF) 2016?

Asim: Neel Banerjee, the founder and artistic director of Nautanki Theatre, asked me earlier this year if I’ll be interested to participate in SATF 2016. The concept of presenting a number of plays in different languages to the audience with a common cultural thread appeared to me a very innovative idea well worth giving a try. My cast members were equally enthusiastic.

Nautanki: How many cast are in your play?

Asim: The play has four cast comprising an elderly couple and a younger couple.

Nautanki: Why people should come and see A Time Machine?

Asim: The play is written by Mr. Bratya Basu, a well-known playwright of contemporary Bengali plays. The play deals with our age old desire to be able to look at our past as well as future at the press of a button if only we had a perfect time machine. However, as the play reveals, how you deal with the reality of our lives at the present.

This will be the very first staging of this play in Sydney. The ten minute English version (done by myself) of this play has also been selected to be performed in the Short+Sweet Sydney Theatre festival in 2017.

asim_satf

Asim Das is a man of many talents and this time he will take you on journey to future.

Big Bang Season End for 2016

2016-10-11-20-53-42Now this year has gone so fast and everyone agrees with it. We at Nautanki have been working on this exciting project for quite some time now. A cross culture experience to wider audience is our goal and that’s when South Asian Theatre Festival (SATF as we like to call it) idea was conceived.

This is the first year for SATF and we hope we will continue on this journey, we will showcase three or more short plays in its native tongue. For audience it a one of kind experience to see something different in 90 minutes and all under one roof.

I have to give you couple of reasons why should you attend.  A) This is event bringing something new to our community, we are introducing the concept Pay – as- you- think, where you will evaluate the performances and pay what you like. B) Is for theatre lovers who will see and will receive a charming experience and to watch something extra-ordinary without the language they are familiar with.

Let me tell you what’s in our basket. A Bangla play directed by Asim Das will represent Bengalis from India and Bangladesh, a Tamil play directed by N.K. Srini that will find common lingual identity of migrants from South India and Sri Lanka and a Marathi play directed by Napoleon Almeida who has Goan background. This festival is hopes to bring community together and appreciate each other’s art form

Thanks to Riverside Theatre in Parramatta who will be hosting this year festival. This 2 days festival will be held from Thursday 24th and Friday 25th November 2016 at 7.30 pm.

 

Collect Entry Tickets on 02-8839 3399

http://www.riversideparramatta.com.au

Media: for more information, interviews, artist details, images

Contact: Sunny Singh | E-mail: media@nautanki.org.au | Ph. 0449 616 227