By Rebecca Gould, Head of Arts, British Council Wales

18 February 2021 - 09:00

Man holding pencil in hand and sitting down next to a pile of books
Living Pictures - Diary of a Madman. Performer Robert Bowman and Producer Kate Perridge ©

Sinéad Rushe

Rebecca Gould, Head of Arts at British Council Wales, reviews collaborations in theatre and dance, the final event of our India-Wales digital festival: connections through culture.

The event brought together theatre personalities from India and Wales to discuss the value and importance of collaboration. The participants also shared their personal accounts of past and current collaborations and connections. 

The event was introduced by Gary Raymond, author, broadcaster and editor of Wales Arts Review and chaired by me Rebecca Gould. I’ve been fortunate to have had a long association with theatre in India. The panel included Quasar Thakore Padamsee, artistic director QTP; Sarah Argent, an award-winning freelance theatre maker; Vaishali Bisht, artistic director at Hyderabad Children’s Theatre Festival; and Lee Lyford, artistic director at Theatr Iolo. 

Sarah Argent read a verse from a beautiful Bengali song and went on to chronicle her journey through the Shishu Baban project (theatre for babies), a collaboration between Theatr Iolo based in Wales and Think Arts based in India. Listening to her talk so passionately about the project and the montage of photos she presented, made us want to relive every moment of that project with all the artists and babies involved!

Quasar described the production of Diary of a Madman, how he brought the show from Wales to India. He emphasised how essential such collaborations are and how important a role trust plays in the same. 

Lee Lyford shared his experience of presenting ‘Transporter’ in India as part of #WalesInKolkata. Transporter is described as a transformative monologue about human displacement from a teenage perspective. In addition to the performances, writing workshops for young people were organised, offering them the chance to write their own monologues, which they performed at Junior Kolkata Literary Meet in January 2019. Lee felt that experiencing Transporter against the backdrop of the controlled chaos of India led to him experiencing the piece in a completely different light, opening up new interpretations - such, he feels, is the beauty of collaborations. 

Vaishali Bisht talked about the foundation of Hyderabad Children’s Theatre Festival. Despite the challenges posed by Covid-19, she expressed how grateful she was for the collaborations and the connections formed as part of the India-Wales programme. She went on to describe how Lee Lyford has been remotely mentoring three local theatre practitioners from India. As part of Vaishali’s talk, she played an excerpt of a conversation with one of them, Santosh. It was truly heart-warming to hear a man who has practiced theatre since childhood be inspired to seek new avenues because of such collaborations. The other mentees include Pallavi and Shayontoni. 

With the collaborations in theatre and dance event, the India-Wales digital festival: connections through culture festival drew to a close, leaving us with the belief that such collaborations would keep resulting in great works of art being produced, to immerse us, illuminate us and inspire us. 

You can watch the full event here 

India-Wales digital festival: connections through culture was a series of online events, in partnership with British Council India, Wales Arts International and Welsh Government’s digital Diwali celebrations. The event lasted ten days, during November 2020, over the course of which we explored the past and current cultural work, of artists and cultural leaders in literature, theatre, music, dance, visual arts and craft. And it was through their work that we celebrated the connections and the ever-growing friendship between India and Wales. Through this event we aimed to further strengthen and enable creative collaboration between both nations in these difficult times. The event showcased and celebrated the work of artists from India and Wales who have been involved since 2017, or who were recently awarded in the 2019/20 Connections Through Culture: India-Wales grants programme. The event was a great success with an audience of thousands watching on platforms including Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. 

Rebecca Gould

Rebecca Gould

Head of Arts, British Council Wales