The Friday List: From Thespo’s youth theatre festival to a poetry reading by Ranjit Hoskote, your weekly calendar of virtual events


Every Friday, we’ll bring you a curated list of online experiences — performances, talks, tours, screenings — to mark on your weekly calendar.

Compiled by Aishwarya Sahasrabudhe

The year 2020 has been quite eventful, what with the coronavirus crisis completely changing the way we approach our daily lives, our work and our friends and family. With vaccines being developed across the world and some countries even making it to the stage of mass immunisation, there is perhaps reason to hope that this pandemic might just be behind us soon. Yet, a number of restrictions continue to be in place to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus making our collective leisure time a largely virtual experience. So, no matter the success of the vaccines or the easing up of certain stringent rules, the landscape of our engagements and weekly dosages of entertainment will continue to be moderated digitally, through the screen.

Every Friday, we’ll bring you a curated list of online experiences — performances, talks, tours, screenings — to mark on your weekly calendar. On this week’s #FridayList: Thespo’s virtual theatre festival for the youth, a poetry reading by Ranjit Hoskote and Netflix’s Meryl Streep starrer, The Prom.

— Attend an opera

When the first lockdown was brought into effect in March 2020 owing to the coronavirus crisis, several opera houses opened up their digital archives to viewers who could enjoy the beauty and thrill of the opera right from the safety of their couch. Now, some nine months later, the situation has changed but barely because the experience of watching a live performance in a packed theatre continues to elude audiences. Royal Opera House, Mumbai is then bringing an opera to its audience through the screen in this weekend’s recital, The Opera Gala by Neemrana Music Foundation. The event will showcase the 10th anniversary celebration of the music foundation which pays tribute to its founder Francis Wacziarg and showcase the journey of the opera to India through excerpts from nine operas that the Neemrana foundation has staged through the years. Featuring the works of Mozart, Giuseppe Verdi and Georges Bizet, the performance will include along with a choir, 10 soloists and dancers of three different styles, Kathak, modern ballet and Kalaripayattu. This recital is definitely a can’t miss for fans of the opera.

When: 12 December

Where: Royal Opera House, Mumbai’s YouTube channel

— Talks and panel discussions

A panel discussion coming up next week will be the second in a two-part series that revolves around the topic, Art and Science of Heritage Conservation: Finding the Right Balance, brought forth by the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya (CSMVS) along with Harvard University and Laxmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute. While the first talk focused on scientific advancements and their application in art conservation, part two will explore the status of art conservation science in South Asia today and how a leading programme can be developed for preserving artworks in the region. In a session moderated by CSMVS’ Head of Conservation Anupam Sah, panelists like the archaeologist Anusha Kasthuriarachchi and professor of Indian and South Asian Art at Harvard, Jinah Kim, will discuss the history of conservation research and the material knowledge available coupled with scientific studies that inform cultural conservation.

When: 17 December (7.30 pm)

Where: Zoom Meeting

This Saturday, AVID Learning will be hosting a discussion which casts a spotlight on multiple facets of Indian culture that go beyond the realm of cultural tourism to focus on the complexity and shifts in art forms occurring through the years. Investigative journalist Perry Garfinkel and Adventures in Art‘s Karen Stone Talwar will discuss their lived experiences with moderator Varud Gupta, shedding light on several issues like cultural appropriation and the indelible influence of Indian culture across the globe. From the Outside Looking In: The Western Perspective on India’s Captivating Culture promises to be a very enriching and fascinating talk about an outsider’s interpretation of the country’s vast heritage, philosophy, languages and art through decades of study. For culture enthusiasts and Indophiles, this session is surely a must attend.

To know more and register, click here.

When: 12 December (5 pm)

African Rulers and Generals in India is an insightful discussion organised by the Bangalore International Centre in which historian Omar H Ali and researcher Anirudh Kanisetti will be conversing about the sailors, merchants and soldiers who crossed the Indian Ocean from the African continent and arrived in the Deccan leading to the creation of an Afro-South Asian identity. Through figures that rose to power and prominence here like Malik Ambar, Begum Hazrat Mahal and General Hoshu Mohammad Sheedi the historian will trace how this mixed culture became an integral part of the global African diaspora and how the descendants of those who first arrived in India went on to command positions of power, becoming generals, viziers, regent ministers, even clerks and artists in Indian courts. For history buffs and academicians, this talk is definitely the place to be.

To know more and register, click here.

When: 11 December (6.30 pm)

— Online workshops

The Indian Photo Festival Hyderabad will draw to a close this weekend but there still remain a bunch of talks and workshops that photographers and students can participate in to know more about the craft. Photographer Donald Weber will be hosting one such class on 12 December titled Grant Writing Workshop on the fundamentals of writing while applying for grants and fellowships. Drawing from successful applications and his own experience of having applied for and received the Guggenheim Fellowship among other achievements, the photographer will explain how to write with clarity and vision and share some successful tactics and strategies that can be used for applications. For those photographers desirous of undertaking a long-term project and having a body of work that is complete or close to completion, this workshop promises to be very useful.

To know more and register, click here.

When: 12 December (3.30 pm)

The Friday List From Thespos youth theatre festival to a poetry reading by Ranjit Hoskote your weekly calendar of virtual events

From AppleTV+’s Wolfwalkers to the Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman feature The Prom and the screening of an opera by the Royal Opera House, Mumbai, a list of virtual engagements for this week. (Bottom right) Image via Facebook/ Neemrana Music Foundation

— Virtual theatre festival

Thespo 22: Double the Dramagiri! is an international virtual theatre festival flagging off this week, an event organised especially for and by a young community of artists to celebrate youth theatre and storytelling. Through virtual theatre, play readings, live conversations, workshops and international collaborations, the festival is a shout out to young artists and emerging talent across the world. From a musical about youth and identity presented by the Miah-Boy Diaries to a dramatic reading of Paperwalls and the journey of a therapy group untangling their past in the session Healing With Counsellor K, there is a lot on offer at this five-day long theatre festival. A special point of attraction is the event set up for the last day, The Ministry of Mundane Mysteries, an improvisation of the traditional mystery that takes place entirely over the phone. For theatre artists and others simply looking to immerse themselves in drama and culture, this festival is something to keep an eye on.

To read more about each event and get your ticket, click here. To get a festival pass for the entire event, click here.

When: 16 December to 21 December

— Virtual poetry reading

For the first three Saturdays of every month, Poetry with Prakriti will engage listeners in the verses produced by some of the most prolific poets of our time. In a session moderated by Arshia Sattar, this weekend will have Ranjit Hoskote, the poet and cultural theorist, conversing with audiences and reciting some of his works. Hoskote has seven volumes of poetry to his name which have been translated into several languages and has most recently published The Atlas of Lost Beliefs (2020). Partake in the poetry reading session this weekend brought about by Prakriti Foundation to enjoy the insightful and thought-provoking poems produced by this scholar.

To register for the event, click here.

When: 12 December (7 pm)

— Streaming this week

Arriving on Amazon Prime Video this Friday is the chilling horror, Durgamati, featuring Bhumi Pednekar and Arshad Warsi. When Ishwar Prasad (Warsi), a politician and a good man refuses to be corrupted, rivals try to pin the blame of the theft of a dozen idols on him and put him away for good. And to trap this innocent man, the detective tasked with the case frees Chanchal Chauhan (Pednekar) an IAS officer serving in jail. Everything seems to go smoothly until Chauhan is taken for interrogation to a dilapidated mansion. The seemingly foolproof plan falls apart when she starts experiencing supernatural occurrences and becomes possessed by the ghost of one Durgamati. Who is this spirit and what is it seeking? As she tries to find answers, Chauhan is sucked deeper into this horrifying abyss. Sure to be a thrilling and scary narrative, Durgamati is definitely worth a watch, perfect for a dose of fear on a Friday night in.

When: 11 December

Where: Amazon Prime Video

‘Cultural disruptors’ are arriving on Netflix this holiday season in the musical film, The Prom, featuring Nicole Kidman, Andrew Rannells, Kerry Washington, James Corden and the inimitable Meryl Streep among other stellar actors. A group of failed Broadway artists trying to spruce up their image and gain more visibility arrive in a little village in Indiana to support the cause of a girl who is prevented from attending the high school prom with her girlfriend. Emma Nolan, the high schooler, finds herself alone without anyone standing up for her until the four Broadway stars reach her school and put up a show to inspire others and help this teenager go to the dance. This endearing story is sure to be such a lively, funny and entertaining watch, with Kidman and Streep in their usual stunning form.

When: 11 December

Where: Netflix

As war between western forces and West Asian militant troops rages on near Kabul, disrupting and destroying the lives of thousands of innocents, one civilian enters a refugee camp to teach the children there how to play cricket. Grappling with the loss of his family in a bomb blast, Sanjay Dutt, who essays the role of this coach, starts building a cricket team and inadvertently foils the plan of a local lord to turn the children into suicide bombers. Torbaaz, which casts a limelight on the plight of the refugees, also tries to show how cricket in fact becomes a positive distraction for the children and tells the touching story of the lone man’s determination to help them live without the constant fear of terror, war and death.

When: 11 December

Where: Netflix

Premiering on Apple TV+ this Friday is the animated film Wolfwalkers, from co-directors Tomm Moore and Ross Stewart. In a world of magic and spirits and lore, a young hunting apprentice Robyn Goodfellowe (Honor Kneafsy) treks to Ireland with her father to finish off the last wolfpack. But things are never meant to go as planned and Robyn encounters a human/wolf hybrid, Mebh MacTíre (Eva Whittaker), in the deep woods who asks for her help in finding her lost mother. As Robyn goes deeper and deeper into the forests, she learns more about the tribe of the wolfwalkers and starts understanding their way of life. What is sure to follow is the predicament she would face: should she kill the pack or convince her father otherwise? This animated fantasy, a peek into Irish artistry is definitely going to be a must-watch.

When: 11 December

Where: Apple TV+

Also read   Coronavirus outbreak: A database of books, performances, courses available online in these times of social distancing

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