MINNEAPOLIS (March 31, 2017) — Artists from diverse backgrounds, countries, genders and faiths gathered in March at Pangea World Theater’s studio to start off rehearsals for their upcoming spring production of “5 Weeks” all set to run Friday, April 7, 2017 through Sunday, April 23 at The Lab Theater, 700 North 1st St., Minneapolis.
The ensemble includes Joydeep Haldar, Kingshuk Mandal, Madhu Bangalore, Vidyotham Reddi, Bilal Dar, Sayli Khadilkar, Shree Sachdeva, Kuljeet Kaur, Khadija Siddiqui, Tasnuva Ahmmed, Kallie Melvin, Prakshi Malik, Kiran Manchanda, and Tarun Kumar, with original music by Pooja Pavan, A. Pavan and Vijay Ramanathan.
Meena Natarajan is a professional playwright whose scripts have been professionally produced both in India and the U.S. She has created, written and performed in stage and street theater pieces in India raising issues such as social injustice, corruption and dowry deaths. She is deeply inspired by larger mythological themes and poetry and has adapted texts such as The Egyptian Book of The Dead, 2000-year old love poems from India and large events such as the partition of India and Pakistan. She has written several plays for Pangea World Theater including – Osiris, Partitions, The Inner World, and has co-adapted Rashomon. Her last play was No Expiration Date in 2015 dealing with aging and sexuality. From 2000-2003, she served as the President of Women Playwrights International, an international organization promoting the work of women playwrights, and convened the 7th Women Playwrights International Conference in the Philippines in 2003. She recently was awarded a Visionary Leadership award from the Minnesota Council of Non-Profits in 2013. Natarajan served on the Board of the National Performance Network and the Network of Ensemble Theater and is currently on the board of the Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists. She is a National Theater Projects Advisor of the New England Foundation for the Arts.
Dipankar Mukherjee is a professional director originally from Calcutta, India with a 25-year history of directing. He is the Artistic Director of Pangea World Theater, an international theater in Minneapolis that is a progressive space for arts and dialogue. As a director, he has worked in India, England, Canada and the United States. Dipankar has worked at the Guthrie Theater, Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, New World Theater, Alliance Theater and at the Young Vic in London. His aesthetics have evolved through his commitment to social justice, equity and deep spirituality and these factors, along with a response to relevant politics, forms the basis of his work. Dipankar has been awarded the Twin Cities International Citizens Award by the Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul for contributions in the area of human rights and international co-operation. Dipankar has received the Humphrey Institute Fellowship to Salzburg and has been a Ford Foundation delegate to India and Lebanon. He is a recipient of the Bush Leadership Fellowship award to study non-violence and peace methodologies in India and South Africa. He was an Artist-in-Residence at Shangri-la in Honolulu, HI in 2015. He has a long lasting relationship with the South Asian community and has created community based work bringing Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan communities together in a way that foregrounds social justice and equity.
Dr. Pooja Goswami Pavan is a multifaceted performer, composer, teacher and scholar of Hindustani (North Indian classical) vocal music. The versatility in Pooja’s repertoire is evident in her consummate ability to sing Khayal, Thumri, Dadra, Ghazal, Bhajan, Sufi and folk inspired forms of North India, such as Hori, Kajri and Chaiti. Trained initially by her father Pandit Surendra Goswami, she received advanced training in Khayal from Prof. Ajit Singh Paintal and her elder brother Dr. Shailendra Goswami. Pooja received a PhD from the University of Delhi for her research on the body of work of Pandit Amarnath – the prime disciple of the iconic vocalist Ustad Amir Khan. She developed her expertise in semi-classical vocal music under the tutelage of the eminent vocalist Vidushi Shanti Hiranand – the reigning queen of Thumri and Ghazal and the universally acclaimed successor of the legendary vocalist, the Late Begum Akhtar. A recipient of multiple prestigious National Scholarships in India, Pooja has performed and lectured extensively at prominent venues and academic institutions in India and the USA. She has taught several courses in Indian music and culture at the University of Minnesota and Macalester College since moving to Minnesota in 2006. Pooja has three CDs to her credit featuring her original Sufi, Ghazal and Bhajan compositions. Pooja has been a past recipient of multiple grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council and the American Composers Forum. Her growing collaborative footprint in Minnesota includes several original works and performances for premier arts groups such as Ananya Dance Theater, Katha Dance Theater, Pangea World Theater and Cedar Cultural Center and multiple concerts with leading performers of Jazz, American-Folk and Middle-Eastern music. She is the recipient of the prestigious McKnight Fellowship for Musicians for 2016-17, awarded by the McKnight Foundation in Minnesota.
Pangea World Theater illuminates the human condition, celebrates cultural differences, and promotes human rights by creating and presenting international, multi-disciplinary theater.
Pangea World Theater is a progressive space that brings thinking artists from very diverse backgrounds and ethnicities together to create art for a multiracial audience. As we create work at this particular time in history, when cultural and political divides are rapidly shifting, Pangea offers itself as a place where a mutual respect for differences amongst our artistic collaborators exists, not merely a tolerance for diversity. This is a core value of our artistic vision.Our creative cosmology can be represented by a circle where the participating artists inhabit an indispensable space in the circumference, and only the “work” lies at the center. Our aesthetic is enriched by the journey of exploration to and from that center energized by intercultural dialogue, the memories and experiences that artists bring with them, different styles and traditions and the creative process itself. This aesthetic is not fixed; it includes the voices and artistic visions of multiple voices and realities. Pangea’s art form is influenced by both western and non-western vocabularies and styles in a complex way.
~Executive Director Meena Natarajan
Pangea begins from the fundamental paradigm of diversity in the world. Our work expresses this reality and our organization advances this possibility consciously. Our strategic vision is to build strong alliances across a broad spectrum of artistic and human rights organizations in order to create a powerful collective foundation for work on and off-stage that fully merges alternative and marginalized voices into the mainstream.
~Executive Director Meena Natarajan