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This entry is part of 46 in the series 20050311_Issue

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Manaveli Performing Arts Group ‘s Twelfth Festival of Theatre and Dance

Manaveli Performing Arts Group, Canada ‘s premier Tamil theatre group, is to hold its twelfth annual Festival of Theatre and Dance at the Markham Theatre for Performing Arts, Markham ON, on Sunday March 13. The festival will consist of two shows, at 12:30p.m and 6:00p.m. Tickets cost $10.00 and $15.00.

In keeping with Manaveli ‘s tradition, this year ‘s festival will bring together many leading Canadian Tamil Artistes to stage three plays and a modern dance performance. The total cast of over 30 will also boast of many new comers and will range in age from primary school students to retirees. The things that brings all of them together are their spirit of volunteerism and their love for live theatre.

Since its inception in 1996, Manaveli has staged over 45 plays, many of which have been hailed as path breaking. Through it ‘s Festivals, Manaveli has also introduced acclaimed playwrights, such as Eugene Ionesco, Anton Checkov, Samuel Beckett, Jean Janet, Brian Friel, and Vaclav Havel, to the Tamil audiences. The Twelfth Festival will continue in this tradition and will stage a play by Italian Playwright Mario Fratti.

Four acts at the 2005 festival

The first act is a play by acclaimed Sri Lankan playwright Kuzhanthai M. Shanmugalingam. His Play Hellish Heaven deals with the pain of being separated from ones home and native place – an experience shared by many new Canadians. The play explores the destroyed souls of people, houses, and towns, brought on by the chronic experience of people emigrating to the west to avoid political persecution, and by the acute experience of the 1995 mass exodus out of Jaffna city to escape the invading army. V. Thiviyarajah, an acclaimed dramatist in the community, returns to the festival to direct the highly anticipated first ever production of this play. The theme of this play is of special significance at a time when many people in Asia have lost not just their homes but their villages towns to the devastating Tsunami.

The second act Speaking of Miracles, written by Sahapthan, pokes gentle fun at man ‘s constant ambition to conquer nature. This satirical comedy, poses the question what are the limitations of scientific achievement ? Sathyakumar Jeyapal makes his directorial debut at the festival with noted poet Sahapthan ‘s first ever play. Both Jeyapal and Sahapthan have been part of past festivals as actors.

Masked is a modern dance composition that takes a critical look at social stigma and the society ‘s inexplicable tendency to blame the victim. Through the portrayal of the experiences of a victim of childhood sexual abuse, and a victim of rape this powerful dance recital points an accusing finger at the society for its treatment of victims of abuse. Tharshini Varapragasam, Prashanthy Pathmanadan, and Saumiya Thayalan, the trio behind the success of last year ‘s dance-drama Parallels, return to the festival to create and choreograph this dance.

The final act,Torture, is a play set in 1973 Chile by renowned Italian playwright Mario Fratti. Originally titled The Satraps, the play documents a chapter in the persecution of Chilean Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda at the hands of Augusto Pinochet ‘s ruthless military machine. The experience of Neruda is painfully similar to that of many Tamil Canadian poets, artistes, and writers who fled Sri Lanka to escape political persecution for their writings and thoughts. This is a dream project for director Dushy Gnanapragasam, who directs his boyhood idol and legendary Tamil dramatist K. S. Balachandran in a play about one of his favourite poets. It is a sad coincidence that Balachandran himself was imprisoned in Sri Lanka and was later exiled to Canada.

For further details and media requests, contact: Dushy at 416 995 2984

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