Thrissur: The 14th edition of the International Theatre Festival of Kerala (ITFoK) is set to commence on February 9 with the theme ‘Ensemble, Peace and Confidence.’ Organized by the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi in collaboration with the State Culture department, the festival aims to explore the impacts of war, conflicts, and the yearning for belonging experienced by migrants.
Featuring 47 performances of 23 plays, including contributions from eight foreign theatre groups, the festival will be a diverse showcase of global perspectives. Theatre director B. Ananthakrishnan, also the Vice-Chancellor of Kerala Kalamandalam, emphasized the festival’s commitment to reflecting contemporary social realities. The plays selected for ITFoK 2024 are expected to delve into issues of turbulence and migration from around the world, presenting a rich confluence of performances utilizing body, music, and stage properties.
The opening play, “Apatridas,” from Brazil, draws inspiration from characters like Kassandra, Hecuba, Prometheus, and Hercules, focusing on human crisis, migratory flows, refugees, and the devastation faced by native people in Brazil. The play explores themes of identity and non-belonging.
In addition to the plays, the festival will feature panel discussions, meet-the-director sessions, theatre workshops, and performances by music bands. With nine venues spread across the city, including the Regional Theatre, Town Hall, and Bharat Murali Open Theatre, ITFoK promises a vibrant and engaging program.
Despite facing financial challenges and the complexities posed by the contemporary situation, organizers believe in the importance of art and culture for the human soul. The festival, initiated in 2008 by the late actor Murali, has evolved into a theatre event of international significance. Notably, the festival coincides with the 125th birth anniversary of Bertolt Brecht, the influential German theatre figure known for his commitment to socialist politics and the emancipation of the working class. A play based on Brecht’s works will be featured in the festival.
Acknowledging the prevailing gloom, the organizers express the need to hold on to signs of hope. The festival’s slogan, ‘Sing we must, in these gloomy times too,’ reflects the determination to celebrate the resilience of the human spirit through the arts.