Pangea’s “The Conference of the Birds”
MINNEAPOLIS (March 1, 2016) — In celebration of Pangea’s 20th year, Pangea World Theater is pleased to present Conference of The Birds, an adaptation of a poem of the same name by 12th century Sufi poet from Iran, Farid ud-Din Attar. This has been adapted for the stage by playwright Meena Natarajan.
“We are at the brink of immense changes taking place in this country. With all the movements toward justice and equity that have been taking place in the last few years is gaining momentum accompanied by the backlash, we chose Conference of The Birds to convey our message of the power of multiplicity and unity. This vision is not easy to achieve. The path is difficult and the play portrays this.” says Artistic Director and the director of the play, Dipankar Mukherjee.
Conference of the Birds, metaphorically maps out the journey of the human spirit in its quest for truth. In this classic tale, the birds of the world are gathered together by their leader, the hoopoe, and told of a legendary King. Inspired by the hoopoe’s tales, the birds take flight on a pilgrimage across seven valleys to find their celebrated King, but the dangers and hardships encountered on the journey cause many in the flock to abandon their search. In the end, the small number that survives uncovers a profound secret.
Conference of the Birds opens Friday, April 1, 2016 at Intermedia Arts located at 2822 Lyndale Ave S, Minneapolis, MN 55408. Performances run April 1st – 16th at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, and 2:30 p.m. Sundays. Tickets are $18 general admission, $15 groups of ten or more, and $12 for students and seniors. More information at http://www.pangeaworldtheater.
Pangea World Theater is excited to announce a multi-ethnic ensemble of eleven actors and a live musician. Dan Rein accompanies the actors with Iranian classical music.
Ensemble includes Sandra Agustin, Ricardo Beaird, Heidi Berg, Adlyn Carreras, Beverly Cottman, Maryam Houshyar, Masa Kawahara, Tom LaBlanc, Alberto Panelli, Atquetzali Quiroz, and Amjed Yusuf. The play is written by Meena Natarajan and directed by Dipankar Mukherjee. The artistic team includes lighting designer Mike Wangen, costume designer Jeff Stolz, and choreographer Sandra Agustin.
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 Consortium of Asian American Theaters and Artists.
Dipankar Mukherjee, is the artistic director of Pangea World Theater. He has been leading the organization since its inception over a decade ago. He was invited to join the artistic community in the Twin Cities as a resident director of the Guthrie Theater. He has international experience in creating theater in UK, Canada, Lebanon, South Africa, India and here in the US. Aesthetics evolved through social justice, equity and deep spirituality and relevant politics forms the basis of his work. He works closely with noted South African playwright Athol Fugard and has addressed issues of race and reconciliation while creating theater. He was recently awarded a Bush Leadership Fellowship for his artistic work on non-violent methodologies post racial and religious violence. He serves on board the The Lake Street Business Council and Mizna.
Dan Rein has studied with masters in the United States, Canada, and Iran. In 1993 he received the Minnesota State Arts Board Apprenticeship grant to study Radif with Ali Zarrin. Three years later, he received a Jerome Foundation Travel Study Grant to study music in Iran. He has traveled to Iran in 1996 and 2002. He has created numerous radio programs on traditional music for KFAI radio on his weekly radio show, “Century Song.” He is also a board member and recording archivist for the Indian Music Society of 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.
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
Since 1995, Pangea has worked to create and present new possibilities and new aesthetic realities for an increasingly diverse audience. Our artistic direction evolves out of relevant shifts in the social, cultural and political pulse of the communities in which we live and work. We bring artists together to confront stereotypes, push the boundaries of their art forms and challenge audiences with diverse perspectives and aesthetic. Each season Pangea produces, commissions and presents artistic, innovative and genre-crossing works, challenging the expectations of our artists and audiences.