Ganakrishti: A Beacon for the Group Theater Movement in Kolkata

Jhara Samayer Kavya Ganakrishti, a leading theater group of Kolkata, has just completed twenty-five years of its journey that began in 1981 by a handful of theater enthusiasts. Over these years the group has grown both in size and stature to one of those very few organizations that can help guide the group theater movement in Kolkata through the troubled socio-economic waters. It was one of those groups who did not feel that producing plays is the only activity they should concentrate on. Ganakrishti wanted to be inclusive, wanted to do theater with everybody. They were not one of those elitist groups that bask on the glory of a limited few “stars”. They started to build ground up, bringing together all the like minded people, train the young through workshops and through stage productions where everybody can be a part of, on-stage or off-stage.

I have been fortunate enough to see three productions of Ganakrishti. “Sateroi July” (July the 17th), a play written and directed by Bratya Basu, was an intensely gripping drama with a huge cast. “Megh Manabi”, a musical developed though the workshop process of Ganakrishti (directed by Jahar Das) is a kind of production that is very difficult to find in any Kolkata stage. The play involved the youngest of the group members who have been groomed through the annual workshop process conducted by the senior performers. “Tashkar Brittanto”, one of the recent productions, is a hilarious satirical drama directed by Amitava Dutta and wonderfully acted by the more experienced members of the group.

Ganakrishti’s latest production, “Jhora Somoyer Kabya” (Verse of Whithering Time), is winning great critical acclaim as well as audience appreciation. The play chronicles the life of Mirza Asad-ul-llah khan Ghalib, who was not only a poet and musician, but also a great philosopher. The play depicts, through the eyes of Ghalib, a changing time of Indian history when the people started to feel the growing power of the British empire gradually spreading its wings of oppression across India. This is a must see play in Kolkata at this moment. So next time you are in Kolkata, do not miss this play.

Ganakrishti’s annual theater festival is another unique event that demonstrates their inclusiveness, their eagerness to do theater with everybody who loves to do theater. It was an honor for us to be a part of Ganakrishti’s annual theater festival in 2006 with our play “Ron“. The festival did not have the pomp and grandeur of some of the other famous festivals and fairs of Kolkata, but it had that magic that creates a bond of friendship and camaraderie that is the key objective of any festival of this nature. The festival invites theater groups from all over India and abroad. One of the key features of this festival is a special segment of children’s plays. Besides plays, the festival also features exhibitions, seminars, as well as felicitation of artists, writers and performers. A festival of this magnitude demands lot of dedication, hard work and funds. Government grants alone cannot bear the expenses. Private and corporate contributions constitute a significant portion of the budget. I hope that the patrons and donors of this wonderful festival continue to sponsor this event in the coming years too and make it a major monsoon festival of Kolkata. I’d also like to request my expatriate Bengali friends who visit Kolkata during the summer moths (July/August) to make it a point to attend this festival and be a part of this wonderful cultural experience.

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    The Theatre Scheme of Leonidas Loizides tours staging “BACCHAE” of Euripides, in a version of the dean and professor of the University of Athens, Marika Thomadaki and in direction of the pioneer and innovating director Leonidas Loizides, who has a 20-year active career in the theatre stardom, always serving the quality theatre, and with artistic successes, the destiny of which had been to travel abroad and make a tour in Europe and America, as we are ambitious for our new oncoming production too. The play is presented in the Greek language with English hyper-titles. Its ingenuity lies in the fact that it is performed only by a female cast, that totally consists of eight women, selected professional actresses. It is about a pioneer idea of Leonidas Loizides that aims at the promotion of the role and the power of the woman, in the past as well as in the present time and the future. We also point out that in this attempt of ours we have the support of the Greek and Cypriot state and the honour, this theatrical production to be under the auspices of the Greek Ministries of Foreign affairs, Tourist Development, Transportation and Communications, the Organization for the Promotion of the Greek Culture of the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Education and Culture of the Cypriot Republicas well as ???? (Cultural Organization of the Municipality of Athens) and UNESCO.Our Communication Sponsors are: ERT WORLD, ????, «Apogevmatini”, “City Press”, “Athens Voice”, “Athens 984, GoCulture,while our Sponsor is the “BANK OF CYPRUS”All the above factors render the as above performance perfect from the artistic point of view, at a level that it can satisfy even the most demanding audience. The theatre company consists of 8 members and along with the director, the technician (operator of lights and sound) and the production organizer, constitutes the eleven-member team that will travel for the materialization of this inspired project.The specific production spread its wings beyond the Greek horizons in September of 2008 with a 40-day tourney in America, in 18 states of the USA, under the auspices of the World Council of Hellenes Abroad, SAE USA Region and the Organization under the name “PEDIA” (meaning EDUCATION in the English Language), and we hope that its journey will be as far and long, from the time point of view, as possible. Our tourney in America had an extremely warm reception from the audience and the press, winning many distinctions by local entities, with the awarding of prizes by the Municipality of New York and the American Congress being the high spot. Our following destination is Europe, with already scheduled performances in Germany, London, Cyprus and Paris for January and February 2009, while we are already preparing our new theatrical production “Troades” of Euripides, which will start its tour in Greece and abroad from August of 2009. Our ulterior objective is not to gain any profit, but the spreading of the Greek culture and theatre as well as the teaching of the classical and always timely, for any society, tragedies of one of our greatest tragic poets, to Greeks of the same descent that live abroad and to foreigners. Furthermore, an aim of our specific attempt is to find people and states which are friendly to Greece and our culture, aiming at their promotion and the beginning of a professional and artistic opening of the Greek theatre. The realization of this dream of ours lies in your contribution We would be interested in being in contact with acknowledged or valid theatrical Festivals, local or not, theatrical organizations, Cultural Organizations, Municipal authorities, acknowledged Theatres or Theatre Companies of abroad, aiming at the inclusion of our production in their artistic agenda for the season of 2009-2010. We also think that it would be useful for us to get in touch with universities of the country, in which theoretical arts are taught, in case they were interested in accommodating our theatre performance aiming at the teaching and education of their students.Finally, some performances could be staged under the auspices of local or national benevolent institutes and the returns of which could be disposed for charity purposes, thus promoting the social character of our country as well.We are open to any other proposal or idea you may have, which could help to the materialization of the specific theatrical production abroad, and of course we would be very glad, if your entity itself was interested in accommodating our production and supporting us financially, as well as in publicizing and promoting our proposal.We hope to realize in your turn, the specialness and substantialness of this attempt of ours for an international tourney of the tragedies “BACCHAE” and “TROADES” of Euripides, for the Greek theatre, as well as for the spreading of our culture beyond our national frontiers and to be a fellow traveler in our cultural journey.
    Director, Leonidas Loizidis Tel: 0030 6945608103, 6955172106
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