16th November 6.30pm free at The Assembly Hall Town Hall Complex, Forest Road E17,

Tickets available from Waltham Forest libraries and at the Town Hall. Take proof of residence.

13th November Happy Diwali!

We settled and saw the flowered platform of musicians and singers, saw the drapes from the ceiling and the coloured poles and waited for the bell to sound the beginning of drama Bangla style. And that’s what you have to remember; this is not reality. This is theatre for the community, up the road, cheap as chips and not interested in anything other than art. So when you sit on the bench in the small auditorium and the lights are down and the stage is polished and illuminated by rainbow colours you must allow yourself to be transported to another place, a land of dreams and stories passed down through the generatons, told in different tongues but understandable to everyone. There was never a sense of being at someone else’s party. Ruksana and Isma from Tower Hamlets Council made sure of that. And children were very welcome. It was they who were busily painting numbers and shapes on the Brady Arts Centre mural wall before climbing the stairs to the back of the theatre to enjoy a treat with their parents and aunties, grandads and uncles.

 before the curtain rises HEY!

         OUT ON THE TOWN……BANGLATOWN

I loved all the dancing, all the singing, the lights, even the shadows.  The dancers were perfect and professional. I could look at their costumes all day long and,  give me a fit dancing man with diamond earrings any time! I never saw any sexualisation of the dance as happens a lot when directors need to pull in audiences. It never happened and my untrained eye actually never saw any difference between the dance of the man and the dance of the woman. There was no mind-wandering because the visual feast was overwhelming and the drumbeats attractive. The show started on time and finished exactly 2 hours later without a break: none was needed. The audience was relaxed anyway.

 work in progress…The Mural at Brady Arts Centre

Technology helped people to keep up. The synopsis of each dance drama was displayed on a back screen as were relevant and excellent photographs especially photos of dancers from the past doing the same movements which synchronised with the live artistes’  movements.

The music was fabulous. It was live and punctuated with discipline. Often the singers were in chorus mode and of course were on the same stage as the performers. Individually they were moving and perfect and actually the sound engineering was ace bringing out every nasal tonal note.

Here was a drama in a theatre pulling in dance, song, music, sets, light and sound. All that for a fiver? Tagore would have wanted people to pay nothing more because the stories actually belong to them. There were stories of lust and joy, yearning and forgiveness, humanity and the gods, kings and princesses.

We looked at duets and solo performances. The whole stage was always alive. The music was in surround sound. The theatre was warm; makes a big difference.

Dr Ananda Gupta was a superb leader. The stories we witnessed in full glory were  “Shyama”,  “Notir Pooja”, “Chandalika”, “Bisharjan”, and “Malini”.

When you need a clone, eh? When you need to get to all the magical plays and dramas, seminars and buzz around the Season of Bangla Drama. Facebook tells me what I’ve missed and I can tell myself what to look forward to. “Bonbibi” at Rich Mix in Bethnal Green Road went down a treat. Well done everyone.

Tonight I shall go to the Brady Arts Centre in Whitechapel E1 to enjoy first of all the exhibition “Retrospective” a display journal of the lead up to the festival of Bangla arts.  Always good to see how it’s done but also to enjoy another visual feast. Maraz Ahmed curated that with students from “Hands on Fashion” learning from him.

I’ll be in it to see “Hey Mahajibon-The Great Life”  and my friend, a lover of Tagore, will be with me. The director for tonight’s plays is Dr Ananda Gupta. Looking forward to performances full of music and drama and deep considerations about Buddha, mercy and forgiveness.

Again tomorrow I shall be in Whitechapel,  at the Idea Store for the Writeidea Festival  for some discussion with Owen Jones, a sell-out afternoon. Mercy and forgiveness are not on the agenda.

                     
 
                                                     Theatre Royal Stratford East (TRSE) OpenStage 2012.
 
                                  Here was a volunteering project to promote the local theatre to the local community in the lead up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games. The Theatre Royal is in Stratford E15 and is one theatre which supports writers and actors from our ethnically diverse communities and attracts an equally diverse and appreciative audience.
                                 I was a pioneer Open Stage 2012 volunteer, doing market-research by interviewing shoppers and passers by in the Stratford Mall well before the rise of Westfield E20. It was a pleasure.
 
 
 
 
 

My friend Audrey Jones,  a member of the University of the Third Age,  is a regular visitor to The Tagore Centre in North London and is an admirer and follower of Tagore.

She gave a presentation a couple of years back and today kindly read her dissertation to me over the phone. I plucked out major chunks as part of my personal research into the arts and culture of Bengal.

Tagore 1861-1941 Nobel Prize Winner for Literature 1913. In England he lived in Hampstead and attended University College London.

A song without a melody is like a butterfly with its wings clipped.

There where the whole world unites is the nest.

Tagore created a spiritual climate in his own soul.

The relationship between God and Man and Nature is circular. No one of the three is more important than the other.

Tagore loved story-tellers and story-telling, the Bengali language and literature, nature, and wanted the human race to be a melting pot of cultures and people.

He was not a Buddhist.

Come learn more on Saturday 10th November at the Brady Arts Centre E1

message from  Season Bangla Drama
Busy week – kicking off with interviews with Betar Bangla tonight at 8.15pm.7th November.
 Shopno Bilash and Seminar on Thursday 8 nov at Brady Centre.
Interviews with BBC Asian Network with Nihal 9 Nov Friday morning,
Bonbibi at the Rich Mix this Friday night.

 

The Night Riders (2003)

The mini-cab crept slowly, Knight-Rider

Ninja Turtle-eyed

shifting into first gear

seeking lines against the blackness

of smoke-shadowed rising walls

of Aldgate alleyways

and licked the kerb.

“That’s it!” cabman shouting

touting for a tip.

Tipped out from a ratted hole

to yellow fusion and cacophony

I opened wide my eyes

and stepped the kerb.

Here was odoriferous stainless steel potted

waffled scarf Isle of Bengali

Here was to be smothered in third

generation

immigration

love life and generosity.

I came in from the cold and held

my hands and palms

upright

unhenna-ed

asking for a space.

“Hip Hop club over there!”

Nodding. Thanking. Not mocking

the restaurant delboys

I left the cuddling lane

and was hit

by mirrors and people in silhouettes

and couples on sofas

and bottles on floors.

I rooted my body against the speakers

of massive

with respect

CK replaced the cumin in my nose

and settled

on my back throat

I was gutteral tongue-ing

like the black rapper unseen

In Big Smoke

but spotted.

The Brylcreem mopped Cliffs of the outside

charmed me with

White Teeth

smiling.

The night man on the rostrum

opened me, devoured me

cursing.

Beanie Man, Red Man, Night Man

He warmed my right side, night side

and I brushed the dancers, sistren

balanced on 3 stripes and shell toes.

“DJ!  Kick that beat!  What was once dark Hip Hop

is now cool”

DJ T skidded tin-tinny bell,

an Eminem riff

on top of killing Kella fields of thunder

repeating and fine.

So my belly vibrated

to the heartbeat of a nation

One Love

And I felt soothed, safe and comfortable

in a darkened dance place.

Outside under street lights of

the brewery yard

Brudders in Bengali clapped, laughed aloud

Saw us through their almond eyes

Britishers fooled by music fashion

Tonight they are the spectators

as the kept-clean stage

fills tightly with the MC s shouts

for denim-clad jogger-swaddled

rappers

to come out

to twist tongues on gold teeth

and open mouth

the mics.

We formed one hunchback

we the children of the night

We dog-nodded our heads together

One Nation disturbed and at once still.

Licence ended

Abruption

A 3 point plug interruption cut

the lasers.

Hunchback reared fragmented

shoe danced feet shuffled off

plucked handbags

from drink dribbled sofas

from amongst the stink spent ends

Outside creeping a corner a menace crawled

reflecting

shut doors of curry houses

and silver belled boutiques.

“Come ride wid us:

We are the night riders

bandana-ed and slim

shady an solid

Goldie an rimmed

Geddin the car.”

The smiley taxi touts waved slender

brown arms into the early hours.

Here comes one DJ trundling a trolley

vinyl protected.

Swooped on, he lights a fag.

In the gap in the wall

Knight Rider has returned on time

Whispered in Micra.

***********************************************************************Gillian Muir 280803

In the early hours I read Rahima Begum’s review of Saturday night’s performance at the Brady Arts Centre E1. I love her description of the pattering feet and bells and totally applaud , like she does,the set designers. Magical just as “Midsummer Night’s Dream” is to many. It’s theatre and not reality so we must look at it from that perspective where stories, dance and music intertwine. The poster art for “A Season of Bangla Drama”  does it for me.

          

               

Who am I to be blogging about “A Season of Bangla Drama?  Someone who loves drama and theatre, one who subscribes to SkyArts, someone who had to beg the authoritarian authorities so that I could wear trousers when teaching drama in a junior school back in the backdays of the seventies, someone who is hungry to experience and learn about other places, a North Londoner who lives in North east London and prefers it.

The call went out from Tower Hamlets Festivals and Events department for bloggers at “A Season of Bangla Drama”. I responded. What better way to learn about people than through drama?  Seen the films, read some books, and time to get  involved deeper even though I can’t write the script.

A few years ago I lived on a remote Scottish island. I’d come down to London to support musicians in Brick Lane. Remotely, I collaborated with Jake Green, the photographer, and wrote an anthology of poems, “Ribbons” (coming soon). Some of the words just capture the Brick Lane of the late nineties.

Last year I found out through a throwaway comment dropped by my younger sister that my father was born in Turner Street, Whitechapel, just behind the London Hospital.  He’d  told me that he was a Cockney because he was born within the sound of the Bow Bells.

turning into Turner Street E1

I come from a family of true snobs and so,  as we were in Muswell Hill (knobs ‘ill),  and even though we were living on a council estate riddled with murderers and gang-members, we shunned the rough and ready east-enders especially in the dock areas. It is only lately and coincidentally with the volcanic cultural eruptions around the Olympic site in old brownsite Stratford that I am learning about the geography and make-up, then and now, of Whitechapel, Bethnal Green, Dalston;  all the allegedly fashionable dwelling places.

My grandmother, a seamstress by trade, lived in Shoreditch before moving to leafy, hilly Crouch End N8.   I  visited her regularly in Crouch End because I loved her.  I was about thirteen when I described Bethnal Green to her as a hotspot of prostitutes and thieves. I’d read about slums in east London.  I had never been there.

“It’s always been bad.” she affirmed.

In the few years my dad lived in the poverty of Whitechapel he was beaten by his father, that I know. Dad would turn in his grave if he knew I were the only English white person along his road the other day. Remember he would have been an Imperialist. He was a racist, for sure, and spent loads of energy justifiying every viewpoint he held. However he was right about the Western diet contributing to bowel cancer and was able to use Binary Code and do Calculus, no problem. He cooked a masterful spaghetti bolognese and gave mum nine kids!

Brady Arts Centre would have been a girls’ club in those days, I believe, and is documented under Jewish History.

So, here I am at SOBD