Bigger, better Dastak from November 9 to 17

Singapore’s signature Hindi theatre festival Dastak, produced by local troupe WeCanDoIt, is back with its fourth edition. 

Dastak team, artists and supporters
Dastak team, artists and supporters at the launch on Wednesday at The Peranakan, Orchard Road. Photo courtesy: WeCanDoIt

Supported by the National Arts Council, Singapore, Dastak will showcase performances marking Singapore’s Bicentennial year celebrations. This year’s festival has an expanded run from November 9-17, 2019 at the Stamford Arts Centre. 

The festival was launched on Wednesday at The Peranakan, Orchard Road with key members of Dastak, sponsors and supporters present at the event.

“Dastak, which means ‘knock’ in English, is a knock on the social door to make Singapore’s multiculturalism richer. This year, Dastak is happy to adopt a regional, ASEAN identity and embrace and present its complexity through theatre and dance,” Shalaka Ranadive, the festival’s founder, said.

As always, a number of well-known local artists have come on board as directors of Dastak this year, including Grace Kalaiselvi, Karthik Somasundaram, Lewin Bernard, Sharul Channa and Rishi Budhrani; as well as Sajini Naidu as a part of the cast. 

“The true success of this event is in unravelling new local artists in performing arts streams - artists who are potentially of International calibre and who will attract global attention to Singapore’s growing theatre industry,” Shalaka added.

Dastak was launched as a platform for cultural exchange between India, Singapore and the rest of APAC and the fourth edition of the festival showcases the deepening cross-cultural pollination between the three.

Malaysian troupe Encore Melaka will be performing their award-winning Impression show, directed by Wang Chaoge with the core objective of showcasing the history of Peranakan and Malaysia culture
Malaysian troupe Encore Melaka will be performing their award-winning Impression show, directed by Wang Chaoge with the core objective of showcasing the history of Peranakan and Malaysia culture. Photo courtesy: WeCanDoIt

Expanding its repertoire, this year Dastak will be introducing a thriller, comedy, drama and an inspirational play based on the life story of Bruce Mathieu, a former drug addict who served 20 years in jail before becoming an anti-drug advocate and motivational speaker. 

Other productions at the festival include taking Singaporeans on a flashback journey through the local classic ‘Coffin is Too Big for the Hole’ by famous story writer Pao Kun Kuo. Another play, based on migrants’ lives in Singapore, showcases the journey of how ‘Tekka Market’ came into existence. 

sound and light team
The sound and light team of 'Chhota Packet'. Photo courtesy: Facebook/WeCanDoIt

A special dance performance by ‘Chhota Packet’ involving 40 children, including 20 young Chinese ballet dancers from Dance Theatre Arts, will be a part of the Dastak schedule as well this year. 

Written by local playwright Hemang Yadav and translated and adapted into Hindi for this festival, the musical ‘Ek Anokhi Duniya’ (a unique world) directed by Deepika Rajani juxtaposes Indian, Oriental and Western music, dance and drama for a younger audience. The play focuses on educating children and adults alike on environment protection with the underlying theme being that of recycle, reduce and reuse, an official statement said. 

Malaysian troupe Encore Melaka will be performing their award-winning Impression show, directed by Wang Chaoge with the core objective of showcasing the history of Peranakan and Malaysia culture on November 16-17. The 30-45 minute show is Encore’s debut performance in Singapore. The story depicts Parameswara, the last king of Singapura, sailing to the land of Melaka and his association with the legendary Chinese admiral Zheng He (Cheng Ho). Traditional Perananakan and Melakan water dances such as Zapin, Wau, Dikir Barat and Joget Lambak together with grand percussion Chinese tanggu drums have been incorporated into the performance.

The 10 plays of Dastak

Zindagi Milegi Dobara

Singaporean actor and theatre practitioner Karthik Somasundaram, who is Tamil speaking, directs his first Hindi play. The play is written by local playwright Gauri Gupta.  It is based on the true story of an ex-convict turned local entrepreneur Bruce Mathieu and his journey from a drug addict to an anti-drug activist. 

Taaboot

Directed by local Singaporean standup comedian Rishi Budhrani and written by the legendary local playwright Pao Kun Kuo, the play is being adapted and presented for the first time in Hindi. Set against the Singapore landscape, aman recalls the bizarre happenings at his grandfather's funeral in this satirical play. This will be the third time Rishi will be directing a play for Dastak. 

Chief ki Daawat

The play is based on a Hindi classic by celebrated author Bhisham Shahani. It highlights the trauma of ageing parents against the backdrop of social context in a new age, nuclear family. The play is directed by Soumya Varma, a lecturer from Lasalle College.  

Bus No 43

The play is written and directed by local Singaporean comedienne Sharul Channa. This true to life every day story is the depiction of migrant workers and a day in their weekend, how they look forward to that one day when they can explore themselves and their journeys in a foreign land. 

Tekka

The play is directed by local theatre practitioner and trainer Lewin Bernard and written by local playwright Hemang Yadav. This story is a slice of Singapore’s history showcasing how the iconic ‘Tekka Market’ came into being.

Mann Ki Baat

Written by Vandana Bhushan and Errol Rodrigues and directed by well-known local actress Grace Kalaiselvi, this is the story of a couple who is about to meet for a marriage alliance and how their alter egos drive their conversation. 

Khosla ka Ghoslah!

The play is written by award-winning playwright Tanuj Khosla and directed by Amit Joshi. It is the story of a new Indian family who have moved to Singapore and the quirks of their teenage daughter, set against the backdrop of everyday life in a housing estate. 

Mobius

Written by Rahul Phondke, the play is directed by a young director - 18 year old Khyan Kotak. It is the story of a murder that takes place and how things unfold into what seems to be a spinning tale.     

Mera Kuch Saaman…

This is an adaption of Ferenc Molnar’s play, directed by Dew Chaiyanara. An interesting conversation between a star actress and a lady unfolds their story.  

Qadam Qadam Badhaye jaa

Written and directed by Gautam Marathe, the play is set against the backdrop of war time Singapore, focusing on two prisoners of wars and their journeys.

Author
Tushaar Kuthiala
Tushaar Kuthiala – Associate Editor

Tushaar has extensive experience as a journalist and in founding two start-up newspapers. He has developed editorial models for both copy and content, and has written several articles, news reports on a wide range of topics. He is a graduate of St. Stephen’s College and earned a post-graduate diploma in TV Journalism from the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ), Chennai. He has worked as a special correspondent based in New Delhi with Daily World, an international media organisation. 

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