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Season of Bangla Drama returns to Queen Mary

Friday 31 October 2014

Identity, love and migration are amongst the themes that will be explored by the 12th Season of Bangla Drama festival, which returns to Queen Mary this November. Organised as a collaboration between the Drama Department and Tower Hamlets Council, the festival will showcase the best of Bangladeshi performance culture; marrying traditional techniques with challenging contemporary interpretations.

Highlights of the 2014 programme include Bangla interpretations of well-known classics like Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, and George Orwell’s Animal Farm. The festival also includes a range of original poetry readings, dance and dramatic performances, and stories of migration, home, loss, and belonging.

Ali Campbell, co-curator and Reader in Applied Performance at QMUL’s Drama Department, described the festival as “an increasingly vital part of the cultural fabric of East London.”
“The scale of this year’s festival is something that we’re incredibly proud of: 15 performances over 17 nights in five QMUL and community venues. For Queen Mary, the diversity of the programme is a noisy, provocative and bold affirmation of who we are: a complex and multi-ethnic community in the beating heart of historic East London,” said Ali.

Theatrical productions will be held alongside a series of exhibitions, talks and panel discussions. The festival will explore a diverse range of themes and topics including: theatre in conflict and the challenges of creating ‘issue led’ Asian Drama in Britain.

One of the issues that the festival seeks to explore is the meaning of the term Bangla. For many, it is a contested term.

“Ask ten people what Bangla means to them and you’ll get ten different interpretations. That is what we are about as a festival. We help to identify these contested spaces, and instead of trying to break them down, we light them up and mark them out as a stage on which to celebrate, engage and perform,” said Ali.

The 2014 event will include, for the first time in the festival’s history, a continual professional development programme to support and develop skills amongst participating artists and performers.

Rose Sharp, an experienced independent producer, will manage a mentorship scheme whereby artists and performers will gain the tools and experience to sustain and expand their work beyond the festival itself. Mentors will be drawn from the QMUL AiR Supply network, a training and employability scheme for graduates of creative arts.  

The festival is rooted in East London, and the programme takes place across a number of local venues including the Space, the Kobi Nazrul Centre, Rich Mix, the Pinter Studio and the Brady Arts Centre.

Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Lutfur Rahman said: “This year’s festival continues to shine a spotlight on our talented writers and performers. A Season of Bangla Drama provides a diverse programme incorporating comedy, hard-hitting contemporary issues and a blend of literary traditions from east and west told with a modern British voice.”

Full details of the festival, the programme and online booking are available here. You can follow the festival’s progress on Twitter and Facebook.

A Season of Bangla Drama is supported by Arts Council England, Queen Mary University of London, Canary Wharf Group PLC, and Tower Hamlets Council.

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