The annual South Asian Theatre Festival (SATF) 2022 is back, now in its 7th year running! With the theme of ‘South Asian Women Speak’, two plays will be performed, each making powerful, inspiring statements.
Mela is an initiative of The Nautanki Theatre Company. The first festival was held in 2016.
It will be a two-day celebration (“Mela”) of South Asian theatre, presenting two short plays, with a 15 minutes interval in between. The ‘Mela’ re-envisions Nautanki’s South Asian Theatre Festival, a significant grassroots outreach allowing discovery of artists and creatives. Works are bilingual, original or adaptations and may include music and dance.
Reema Gillani ~ Production Manager, Nautanki Theatre, told NRI Affairs, “This year the theme of the festival is Women Empowerment. We at Nautanki not only wanted to hear the voices and see the creative approach of Indian/Australian women directors but also commissioned 2 original 1 hour plays specifically for this festival that are also written by women playwrights.
“Both plays have a wonderful cast of amazing female actors.
“Each with their unique narrative detail the journey, life stories, struggles and trials of these female protagonists that find salvation within themselves at the end.
“The stories are diasporic and beautifully presented in the two plays that are being presented this year. I think these festivals/melas are important for our diasporic audience as we are poignant and thought provoking in our approach. They should support the arts and make more of an effort to attend this breed of theatre”
This year the mela champions the voice of South Asian Women. Jyotsna Jyoti and Suparna Bobby Mallick will direct the plays.
YOUR CHOICE is a story of a narcissistic man Ajay, and his wife Meera. Ajay persuaded Meera to marry him. He has strong patriarchal values along with aggression and insecurities whereas Meera, although educated and talented, is a naïve woman who in fear of social pressures, keeps trying to make her marriage work. Then comes a point when Meera realises that nothing she will do will make Ajay happy because she is not the problem.
The story goes along a time lapse from the 90s to present day. It starts in the present in Sydney, then goes into flashback to the 90’s in New Delhi, back again 6 years ago in Sydney. There are 3 supporting actors who play multiple roles. Meera’s parents display traditional Indian values whereas her friends, living in Sydney, show moderate but a supportive attitude.
The play is one hour long. Writer and director Jyotsna Jyoti is using music based on Indian ragas and bandishes. Some original scores have been composed for this play by the very talented Avijit Sarkar.
CHAINS OF FREEDOM is a story of five women who each have unresolved issues within them. The chains that tie the five of them together somehow lead them to address issues they need to free themselves from.
On a night when there is a power outage in their building the five women are forced to address their internal upheaval. While they try to search for their security guard to help restore the electricity, the guard metaphorically helps them find their own light within.
“…From 2022, SATF will be branded as South Asian Theatre Mela. ‘Mela’ is derived from the Indo-Persian word ‘milap’, which means inclusion. SATF was created to offer South Asian artists and actors an opportunity to showcase their talent. Over the years, SATF has championed unique productions, inspiring narratives and continues to build a strong foundation for South Asian talent with increased support from the diaspora. It has been a challenging journey but in the 7th year of this annual festival, I’m very excited about the future of the festival and will continue to mentor our increasing portfolio of talent. We have designed and programmed this event with the community spirit at least so far, translating our experiences into the South Asian diaspora that is quite new in this country. The process has been a top up approach, by forming a base of actors, writers and most importantly an audience who have an appetite for such work and empowering this cohort to pursue arts. Every year we reach out to 500 people directly, and almost 20,000 through socials and indirectly. In 2019, this festival was a topic of research and Dr. Ahmed Abid Khan from the Western Sydney University presented a paper called “Nautanki Theatre in the Urban Quarter” to the 3rd Advancing Community Cohesion Conference in Parramatta. We also have students from Macquarie University doing projects regularly, which is a testimony of growing academic interest in Nautanki’s work.” – Neel Banerjee, Festival Director told NRI Affairs.
Nautanki Theatre Company is a Western Sydney based organisation that works for cultural development, community engagement, education and training through live performing theatre.
Nautanki’s aim is to produce creative opportunities with a true representation of contemporary Australia and provide equal access to everyone. Our objective is to work with the CaLD (Culturally and Linguistically Diverse) community, refugee or migrant people facilitating social inclusion, creating a voice to vanguard their cultural identity.
Nautanki Theatre provides artistic platforms for emerging talents with ethnic backgrounds, telling alternate and new stories from CaLD communities.Currently the company’s artistic focus lies in storytelling that connects contemporary Australian society to South Asian diaspora.
Dates & Venue: 3rd & 4th November, 2022 | 7.45 pm | Riverside Theatre, Parramatta
Details and tickets are available from the Riverside Parramatta website.