This month Kolkata is all set to experience the distinct flavour of Welsh theatre, language and literature.
Four leading Welsh artists and arts organisations are preparing to share their work with the world when they fly to Kolkata, often referred to as the culture capital of India, to present their artistic works, in theatre, dance and literature.
The Welsh contingent features two companies – Light, Ladd and Emberton (LL&E) and Theatr Iolo — who will perform at the Kolkata Literary Meet, one of the most prestigious literary festivals in the country, and at other venues.
Wales in Kolkata, the season of Welsh arts activity and collaboration, is supported by the British Council and Wales Arts International. The festival is a result of the relationships and networks formed by the 2017-18 #IndiaWales season, a major programme of artistic collaboration between Wales and India.
Light, Ladd & Emberton (LL&E) partnering with the Kolkata-based Pickle Factory Dance Foundation will be performing their immersive dance production Caitlin. The acclaimed show, which will be staged at the Goethe Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan hall chronicles the popular Welsh poet Dylan Thomas’ tumultuous relationship with his wife Caitlin. The show is on Tuesday 22 and 24 January at 7pm, and Friday 25 January at 6pm/8pm. Tickets cost Rs. 500 and can be bought here.
Throughout the festival LL&E’s performers will also undertake workshops beginning with the students of Kala Bhavan in Santiniketan and then for theatre enthusiasts in Kolkata, where they will share their skills and creative knowledge. Eddie Ladd, one of Wales’ leading dance and performance artists, who performs in Caitlin will lead a panel discussion with Ayesha Jalal and Samantak Das on Troubled Geniuses: Dylan Thomas and Manto at the Kolkata Literary Meet, Victoria Memorial on the 26 January at 3.20pm.
Theatre Iolo, with their passion for delivering meaningful theatre for young audiences, is all set to enthral Kolkata with their production of Transporter, a spoken word odyssey, written and performed by Catherine Dyson, that captures the journey of a young girl called Maya. Partnering with Kolkata-based Think Arts, which works in arts with young audiences, they will hold workshops and performances at Birla Academy of Art and Culture and Modern High School for Girls. Theatr Iolo will be accompanied by their award-winning Artistic Director Lee Lyford and will present Transporter on 23 January at 6pm at the Junior Kolkata Literary Meet, Victoria Memorial Hall. The show will be open to the public, ages 16+ and will not be ticketed. However, people should register beforehand.
The Wales in Kolkata festival, along with performances includes lectures, readings and workshops for creative individuals, school students and media professionals.
Delivering the Dylan Thomas lecture at the British Council in Kolkata will be Prof. Daniel Williams of Swansea University. The session will also see a presentation by Dr Elaine Canning of the International Dylan Thomas Prize, enlightening the audience about the world’s largest literary prize for young writers. They will also undertake workshops and provide lectures surrounding the life and inspirations of Dylan Thomas at venues including the Kolkata Policy Library on 22 January at 4pm and South City International School. There will also be a lecture on Dylan Thomas and the similarities between Celtic and Indian work at the British Council library on 24 January at 7pm. Later, the two scholars will head to the world’s largest literature fair, the Jaipur Literature Festival to inform attendees about its world-leading literature prize.
Gary Raymond, novelist and renowned editor of Wales Arts Review, will also be part of the Wales in Kolkata delegation. He launches an anthology of short stories by Welsh writers ‘Renegade Wales: Revolutionary New Voices in Welsh Fiction’ in collaboration with Indian publishers BEE Books at the British Council and will also be present at the Kolkata Literature Festival at the Kolkata Book Fair on 2 February. Mr Raymond is a critically acclaimed novelist, author of the ‘brilliant and unnerving’ (Bookseller) The Golden Orphans, published by Welsh Publisher Parthian, and will also undertake creative writing and publishing workshops at venues such as the iLead Media and Management Institute on 21 January at 1.30pm and the Kolkata Press Club, 25 January at 1pm.
Dafydd Elis-Thomas AM, Deputy Minister for Culture, Sport & Tourism said: “I am pleased to see the cultural links between Wales and India continue to strengthen, particularly on the back of all the fantastic work that occurred as part of the Wales/India Season of 2017-18, and Wales being the featured nation at this year’s Kerala Literature Festival. Once again the best of Welsh culture will be on display for Indian audiences to experience, and I wish all participants a successful Festival.”
Debanjan Chakrabarti, Director British Council East and Northeast India commented: “Through our work in arts we aim to inspire and excite people and make sustainable connections in UK and India. The four organisations from Wales and their Indian partners have had the opportunity to work closely over the last two years with support from the British Council and Wales Arts International. In January 2019 we are delighted to welcome the Welsh contingent to Kolkata and hope they will make deeper and wider links in East and Northeast India.”
Rebecca Gould, Head of Arts British Council Wales, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to showcase some of the very best of Wales’s artistic and creative abilities in Kolkata. We are delighted that all four organisations have made deep connections with Kolkata thanks to their association with the #IndiaWales season 2017/18. The initiative, supported by the British Council and Wales Arts International, saw 15 Welsh arts organisations collaborate with Indian partners, several of which were based in Kolkata, to illustrate the value of investment into international arts collaborations, and support the internationalisation of the Welsh arts sector and its participation at major international festivals.”