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East & West Poetry Performance This Thursday in Kolkata

by on Apr.23, 2019, under On the Road, Shaheb Cafe, Theatre

tota april 25th poster

This Thursday, April 25th at 6pm IST I’ll be performing in the East & West poetry reading with Kolkata performance artist Indrani Majumder. I’ll be reading some selections from Rabindranath Tagore’s 1912 Nobel-winning collection “Gitanjali” in English as a counter to Indrani performing the same poems in Bengali. Gitanjali’s central theme in this collection of largely pastoral poems is devotion, or as Tagore puts it in one of his verses, “I am here to sing thee songs”.

When I first read “Gitanjali” years ago it immediately brought Walt Whitman’s late 19th century “Song of Myself” to mind in its sensual appreciation for life and its seeking of the divine in nature. I love this epic poem so much that I keep a small pocket edition in my camping gear and always take it with me backpacking or camping, and make a point of spending a few minutes alone in the forest reading it; a tradition I hope to impart to my son. That said, I’ll be concluding my portion of the evening by reading a selection from “Song of Myself.”

We’re part of a larger evening lineup and the event is free.

Location:

ICCR Kolkata (Indian Council for Cultural Relations)

9A Ho Chi Minh Sarani just opposite the US Consulate

 

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Eugene Lafont the Science Guy

by on Apr.05, 2019, under Film/TV, Shaheb Cafe

Father Eugene Lafont

I’m so honored and thrilled to share that this Wednesday, 10th April, I will be giving a lecture at historic St. Xavier’s College on the legendary Belgian Jesuit Father and St. Xavier’s early faculty Eugene Lafont — his connection to pop science (he was the Bill Nye the Science Guy of late 19th and early 20th century Kolkata) and to the birth of India’s film and record industries.

My talk is entitled “Science City: How Father Lafont Brought Pop Science to Kolkata.” This will only be for St. Xavier’s students so there won’t be as much public fanfare as my other talks and workshops but please send good wishes my way. This won’t be just an introductory recap of his biography that one can find many places online, but based on my own research which aims to separate fact from folklore (trust me, the truth is more amazing than the legend in this case). Thanks to Lafont it might be my most entertaining solo performance yet.

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But wait, there’s more…

by on Mar.06, 2019, under On the Road, Shaheb Cafe, Theatre

Double-feature on 3/26.  After my lecture I’ll be part of a livestreamed poetry reading featuring, and produced by, pro Kolkata performer of Rabindra kobita (poems by Rabindranath Tagore spoken in Bengali) Indrani Majumdar.  I’ll be reading some Tagore in English along with some Walt Whitman.

tota jeff poetry reading

 

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Lecture in Kolkata

by on Mar.05, 2019, under Film/TV, On the Road, Politics, Shaheb Cafe, Theatre

In case you’re in the neighborhood I’ll be doing some standup comedy, I mean giving an academic lecture, at the US Consulate’s American Centre in Kolkata on 3/26.

(click the pic to enlarge it if you actually want to read it)

Vande Mataram

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Jatra With Me

by on Feb.11, 2019, under On the Road, Shaheb Cafe, The Press, The Sixth Boro, Theatre

tapasi eyes

Jatra star Tapasi Moon

I’m thrilled to share this piece Drexel University asked me to write for their website. It’s only one small part of my Fulbright-Nehru research but the first that any of it’s been published (hopefully this is just an appetizer). I’m honored that they took interest enough to have asked me for it.

Yours Truly backstage with actors Subhayu Mukherjee, Dibakar De and Tapashi Moon.

Yours Truly backstage with actors Subhayu Mukherjee, Dibakar De and Tapashi Moon.

Ashok Banerjee and Biswajit Majhi

Ashok Banerjee and Biswajit Majh

Timir Mondal and RJ Jayee

Timir Mondal and RJ Jayee

Light board operator Atanu

Light board operator Atanu

 Tapashi Moon, Bengali film star Dulal Lahiri, Ruma Dasgupta and Subhayu Mukherjee

Tapashi Moon, Bengali film star Dulal Lahiri, Ruma Dasgupta and Subhayu Mukherjee

Full article on Drexel University’s website here.

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Mine is not an official US Department of State website. The views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the Department of State.

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Jatra Lecture and Workshop 2/27/19

by on Feb.05, 2019, under Shaheb Cafe, The Sixth Boro, Theatre

bridgephlad

Actress-Director Ruma Dasgupta as Rani Rashmoni with Tapasi Moon in the historical-devotional drama “Korunamoyi Rani Rashmoni” (“Gracious Rani Rashmoni”) by Sunil Choudhury. Lyricist Ujal Biswas, music by Swapan Pakrasai. Produced by the Sri Chaitanya Opera.

I’m honored that the Philly-based The Bridge PHL theatre company has invited me to give a lecture and workshop on Jatra theatre, one of my research areas as a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar.

Jatra is a Bengali word meaning travel or journey. Jatra theatre, or jatra opera as it is often called in India, is a form of mobile, traveling folk theatre native to India’s northeastern state of West Bengal, dating back several centuries.

By the 19th century, jatra companies began to look away from the purely religious themes that had been their core function, and began to tackle historical subjects and social issues.

Jatra has functioned as a living newspaper, long before any of its playwrights and performers had heard of Theatre of the Oppressed (Augusto Boal hadn’t even been born yet). Long before Brecht, jatra companies worked in a tradition of intentionally nonrealistic acting and minimal use of props and set.

And there is so much more to tell…

Suggested donation $10

Mine is not an official US Department of State website. The views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the Department of State

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Teaching at RBU

by on Dec.21, 2018, under Film/TV, On the Road, Shaheb Cafe

Rabindra_Bharati_University_(emblem)

Rabindra Bharati University’s logo

 

Excited to be asked to teach a two-day screenwriting workshop on December 11th and 12th, 2018 to students at Rabindra Bharati University‘s Drama Department.  RBU is my Fulbright-Nehru host institution, which I selected due to their commitment to the performing arts and offering a quality arts education to students who may not otherwise be able to afford it.

Me with some of my RBU students after the last class.

Me with some of my RBU students after the last class.

RBU was founded in 1962 to mark the birth centenary of the legendary playwright and poet Rabindranath Tagore, who was the first Asian recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature. It is a state school named after Tagore and dedicated to the mission of disseminating his thoughts and ideas through humanities, social sciences, art and culture. RBU prides itself for being a center for higher education in performing arts, fine arts, language, literature and social sciences.

 

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Teaching in Bangalore

by on Dec.03, 2018, under On the Road, Shaheb Cafe, Theatre

bltlogoThrilled to be teaching a full-day playwriting workshop this week to members and friends of the Bangalore Little Theatre, affectionately called BLT.  I will also be seeing their latest play, based on the best-selling book The Emperor of All Maladies, as well as traveling with BLT to observe their theatre education program at some rural schools outside the city.

 

 

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CISF’s Daring Rescue in Bangalore

by on Dec.02, 2018, under On the Road, Pophood, Shaheb Cafe

Yours Truly with CISF Officer Ravindra Pratap

The Absent-Minded Professor with CISF Officer Ravindra Pratap.

This week I left Kolkata to spend a week in Bangalore working with the highly acclaimed Bangalore Little Theatre  (affectionately known as BLT) where I will catch some of their new plays, accompany them to a rural area where they do theatre education outreach to economically disadvantaged schools, and where I will teach a one-day playwriting workshop to BLT members.

My Indigo Airlines flight was on time, and finally during my flight I got to have one of my much anticipated Indian delicacies, the Indigo Airlines chicken junglee sandwich and a cup of Darjeeling tea. If you haven’t tried one, you haven’t lived. You think I’m kidding.

The trouble began after I landed at KIA (Kempegowda International Airport).  I grabbed a luggage trolley (always free in India; a lesson for US airports) and dropped my shoulder bag into the topmost rack of the trolley near the handlebar.  My two pieces of checked luggage arrived on the belt in no time. I tossed them onto the trolley and made for the exit while opening the Uber app on my phone.

Along the way I stopped at a small shop in the airport lobby, left my trolley near the shop entrance and took two steps to the counter to buy a bottle of water, all of which took less than 60 seconds.   I was soon outside pushing my trolley up and down the sidewalk, past the Subway, the Krispy Kreme, and a host of other colorful eateries that were primarily a mix of South Indian and US cuisines, looking for the blasted Uber pickup spot. I had already requested the car so I needed to hustle.

Only when I reached the Uber stand and started to load my luggage into the car did I realize my shoulder bag was missing.  I whipped the trolley around and walk-ran back toward the terminal.  Some wiseguy had lifted my bag right off my cart while I was buying water, I  fumed.   Where am I, Philadelphia?

I flagged down a security guard. “Excuse me, my bag has been stolen.”  After the struggle of going through the particulars in English (my broken Bangla is worthless here in the state of Karnataka where the native language is Kannada), he sent me to the airport’s Central Industrial Security Force control center.  The CISF is a branch of India’s armed police force and is tasked with guarding industrial and infrastructure sites, including airports.

(continue reading…)

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Teaching in Kolkata

by on Oct.30, 2018, under Film/TV, On the Road, Shaheb Cafe

ILEAD_INSTITUTE_LOGO_400x400

Dear Kolkata Friends,

Please pardon the intrusion but I thought perhaps some parties here would be interested in the two-day screenwriting workshop, with a focus on short screenplays, that I’ll be teaching in Kolkata on 24th and 25th November, sponsored by Bichitra Pathshala and ILEAD Kolkata. Please see the two links below for full details including cost. If you have any questions, please comment below.

http://brain-on-fire.com/Poster.pdf

http://brain-on-fire.com/Form.pdf

thanks,

Jeffrey Stanley

Mine is not an official US Department of State website. The views and information presented are my own and do not represent the Fulbright Program or the Department of State.
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