Jefe's House

Theatre

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.

 

 

Leave a Comment :, , , , , , more...

Meet Pallab Mukherjee

by on Oct.08, 2018, under On the Road, Shaheb Cafe, Theatre

“You can see the place is very beautiful. It was made by my uncle, Pallab Mukherjee.” – Swakhar Mukherjee

Click above to watch my impromptu, on-the-fly tour of Gitanjali.

Today I went to interview the accomplished film and jatra theatre director Pallab Mukherjee, whose rehearsals for the Rajdip Opera I’ve been observing, at his home in north Kolkata. That, and an interview there with the playwright Brahmamoy Chatterjee, went off without a hitch. The surprise was that the theatre and film director, Pallab Mukherjee, also runs an NGO (non-governmental organization, aka, a nonprofit charity) called Gitanjali across the street from his home.

Gitanjali.

Gitanjali.

It was founded in 2011 as a nonprofit social welfare society which cooks and delivers hot meals to nearly 6000 at-risk children at nearly 35 schools across central and south Kolkata.  The organization employs 65 to 70 workers.

Gitanjali also produces numerous cultural programs including dance, music and theatre throughout the year. During Durga Puja, they do cultural programs daily and lead clothing drives.

IMG_0475

Gitanjali is an urban oasis.

The organization gets some funding from the West Bengal state government but the bulk of the operation runs on private donations.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

Pallab Mukherjee

Film and theatre director, and head of Gitanjali, Pallab Mukherjee

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.

 

Comments Off :, , , , , , , , more...

Big Night in North Cal

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

20180930_200812

Yours Truly with Jadavpur University’s retired film professor Sanjoy Mukhopadhyay who brought me here tonight and has been helping me a lot in my research.

I went to a panel discussion this afternoon held at the Gandhi Seva Sangha (basically “Gandhi Service Club,”) a nonprofit charity in northwest Kolkata, to hear a lecture on one of my research subjects, filmmaker Hiralal Sen, and his cousin, the prolific writer and folklorist Dinesh Chandra Sen. I had been invited by my new friend, retired Jadavpur University film professor Sanjoy Mukhopadhyay who is a walking encyclopedia of Bengali film history and an expert on Hiralal Sen.

IMG_0340

The Gandhi Seva Sangha with posters of Hiralal Sen (left) and Dinesh Chandra Sen promoting the day’s lecture.

My intention was to lurk in the audience, take notes, shoot video of the speakers and get their remarks translated later (my Bengali is vastly improved but I’m not that good), but they had other plans for me.  I was shocked sitting in the audience at the start when the host took the lectern and announced my name. It caught me completely off guard. He then announced me as an honored guest and Hiralal Sen researcher from the United States who would be making a formal statement (excuse me?) and joining the panel onstage (why did no one tell me this?  I would have dressed a little better.)

I was humbled to be in the company of such esteemed Bengali film scholars and felt like a complete dilettante in their presence.  Then just before we started, they asked each panelist to rise one by one and presented each of us with a scarf the color of the Indian flag, a personalized trophy and several books as gifts.

I should point out too that the Gandhi Seva Sangha, as a nonprofit charity, kicked off the event with a very special awards ceremony.  Each of us panelists were given envelopes containing financial aid awards to hand to deserving high school students in the area as their names were called and they came up onto the stage.

20180930_201432

Acharya (means teacher or professor) Dinesh Chandra Sen Research Society India, the group that organized this event.

I have no idea how they got a trophy made with my name on it so quickly when this event was planned on their calendar far in advance of my arrival in India.  It had to have been a last minute job, for which I am in their debt.

20180930_201442

I can’t complain about my misspelled name. I’ve mangled many a Bengali name over the years so I had it coming. Karma, you know.

I’m never at a loss for words so the speaking part was easy for me when my turn came. I greeted the audience and told them a little about myself in Bengali, then explained my research goals and my long interest in Hiralal Sen.

I was humbled and honored by the experience, and I also met a lot of scholars who came to me afterward offering to help me find the things I’m after.

What a terrific night.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Comments Off :, , , , , , , , , , more...

The Work Begins

by on Sep.24, 2018, under Film/TV, On the Road, Shaheb Cafe, Theatre

42311795_10156688650321350_8850526673213325312_n

Soumya Sankar Bose and Shyamal Dihidar

 

Yesterday the work began in earnest with my  interview of actor-director Shyamal Dihidar who’s been doing Jatra theatre since age 10. I met him through his nephew (also pictured) Soumya Sankar Bose, a Kolkata-based art photographer.  His uncle was kind enough to take a train 150km into the city for the interview which I held upstairs at a corner table of the cafe at the Oxford Bookstore.

42301088_10156688656566350_6133912923090714624_n

Shyamal Dihidar and Yours Truly

The Canon EOS Rebel T6 video camera and tripod that I brought with me paid off. And many thanks to Drexel University’s Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design for lending me a Zoom sound recorder for 3 months.   Also many thanks to Oxford staff for taking it upon themselves to turn off the store music while I was recording.

 

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.

 

Comments Off :, , , , , , , , more...

Rabindra Bharati University

by on Sep.20, 2018, under Film/TV, On the Road, Shaheb Cafe, Theatre

Yesterday I got a tour of the Drama Department at my Fulbright host institution, Rabindra Bharati University. I will teach a workshop or two here later. Click the first photo below to see the slideshow of this incredible, well-appointed performing arts program.

Girish Chandra Ghosh
Girish Chandra Ghosh
First, the head of the Drama Dept. took me on a tour of the facilities. Um, no, that's not him. This is a portrait of Girish Chandra Ghosh who was a renowned 19th century Bengali playwright.
0
Othello
Othello
As with the Ghosh portrait, the posters lining the main hallway are dedicated to Bengali theatre during the late 19th and early 20th century as artists were struggling to find their own post-British identities. Here is a tribute to an all-Bengali production of Othello, a radical and financially risky act at the time.
0
Macbeth
Macbeth
Ditto this production of The Scottish Tragedy.
0
Hariraj (adaptation of Hamlet)
Hariraj (adaptation of Hamlet)
An adaptation of Hamlet into the Bengali language.
0
Hariraj
Hariraj
Closeup of Hariraj photo.
0
Department Head Shubhashis Halder
Department Head Shubhashis Halder
My tour guide, Professor Shubhashis Halder
0
Costume & Puppetry room
Costume & Puppetry room
The place is a hive of activity with surprises behind every door.
0
Set Design class
Set Design class
These students were kind enough to pose for me.
0
Set Design room
Set Design room
Busy students in every room.
0
Department of Drama
Department of Drama
Main hallway.
0
TV studio
TV studio
The video production classroom.
0
Video production classroom.
0
More of the main hallway.
0
Outdoor amphitheatre
Outdoor amphitheatre
The department has an outdoor amphitheatre that also serves as a student hangout.
0
Amphitheatre
0
Freshman orientation
Freshman orientation
The proscenium stage was being used this day for freshman orientation.
0
Freshman orientation banner.
0
Tagore
Tagore
Naturally there was a portrait honoring the school's namesake, Rabindranath Tagore.
0
Sculpture department
Sculpture department
Student work outside the Sculpture building.
0
0
RBU campus
RBU campus
Main road through campus
0
More of the campus. Lots of green space.
0
Signs pointing the way. It's like a little town!
0
Campus map
Campus map
A beautifully laid out campus.
0
More green space
0
I love that one of the theatres is named after 19th century prostitute-turned-stage star Noti Binodini.
0
And even more greenery.
0
Beauty everywhere you look.
0
The Drama Department is housed in this building along with other arts-related majors.
0
Makeup class
Makeup class
This is out of sequence but these were students in the Makeup studio who were kind enough to pose for me.
0
Graffiti
Graffiti
I loved this graffiti about rage on back of one of the doors.
0
"Ahindra Theater Workshop"
"Ahindra Theater Workshop"
The department is named after its founder, Ahindra Choudhury.
0
20180919_142310.jpg
20180919_142310.jpg
0

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.
Comments Off :, , , , , , more...

I’m not a card guy but…

by on Sep.01, 2018, under Film/TV, On the Road, Shaheb Cafe, Theatre

…I was strongly advised to take business cards for this thing.

biz card frontbiz card back

 

Comments Off :, , , , more...

It’s a Fulbright Family Affair

by on Aug.27, 2018, under Film/TV, On the Road, Shaheb Cafe, Theatre

IMG_20180826_105731_94420180826_105236

One of a kind custom t-shirt made to order by a merchant on etsy.com.

#the_fulbright_program

#india

 

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.

 

Comments Off :, , , more...

Love this Fulbright Graphic

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

Many thanks to Ayanda Wright and the NYU Tisch School of the Arts Department of Dramatic Writing alumni association for their great graphic.

nyuddwfulbright

 

 

 

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.

Comments Off :, , , , , more...

Fulbright Scholarship Announcement

by on Jul.11, 2018, under Film/TV, On the Road, Politics, Shaheb Cafe, Theatre

shahebcafe

 

 

 

 

My Experiences in India

shaheb – (India; also saheb, sahib; from the Hindi and Urdu sāhab, master; from Arabic ṣāḥib, companion; participle of ṣaḥiba, to become friends) 
1. formerly, a term of respect for any  male landowner
2. formerly, a term of respect for white European men during the British colonial era
3. (modern) any white man
line

 

fulbright header

Now it can be told. I’m so thrilled to have been named a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar, and will be spending 5 months of the 2018-19 academic year writing and researching in India. If you’d like to learn more about my intended goals, the full scoop is here in this handy dandy pdf of the press release.

As a Fulbright‐Nehru Fellow I will to travel to Kolkata, West Bengal, India to conduct research from my host institution, Rabindra Bharati University, where I will research early 20th century Bengali film and theatre and its impact on India’s nascent independence movement. I will also spend time in Bangalore, Karnataka, India observing the Bangalore Little Theatre’s (affectionately known as BLT) theatre education program and teaching a playwriting workshop to BLT members.

I’m proud to be one of over 800 U.S. citizens who will teach, conduct research, and/or provide expertise abroad for the 2018‐2019 academic year through the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program.

Recipients of Fulbright awards are selected on the basis of academic and professional achievement as well as record of service and demonstrated leadership in their respective fields. The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government and is designed to build lasting connections between the people of the United States and the people of other countries.

The Fulbright Program is funded through an annual appropriation made by the U.S. Congress to the U.S. Department of State. Participating governments and host institutions, corporations, and foundations around the world also provide direct and indirect support to the Program, which operates in over 160 countries.

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.

 

Comments Off :, , , , more...

Mantua Theater Project

by on May.08, 2018, under The Sixth Boro, Theatre

Today wrapped up my 4th and final session of serving again this spring as a playwriting mentor to at-risk middle school youth in West Philly through Drexel University Theater Program Director Nick Anselmo‘s Mantua Theater Project. The plays are moving, hysterical, poignant, zany, all of the above. Next they get handed off to professional actors and directors and performed for the community as an evening of short, kid-written plays. It’s an unbelievable experience for everyone including me, and, most importantly, it blows the kids’ minds and opens them up to a whole new world of expressive possibility.

Comments Off :, , more...