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A Season of Bangla Drama comes of age

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Am I British Bengali, exploring identity through music, song and dance, is one of the features of the festival

Lights, camera, action! Tower Hamlets Council is set to host a virtual version of A Season of Bangla Drama, which returns this November for its eighteenth year.

Audiences across the borough and beyond can relax and enjoy the council’s online festival of British Bengali theatre which runs from 12 to 21 November.

The theme is ‘coming of age’ and this year the action will all be digital, with a series of pre-recorded plays and readings accompanied by live, interactive question and answer sessions.

John Biggs, Mayor of Tower Hamlets, said: “I welcome the return of A Season of Bangla Drama in 2020. This year’s festival may look a little different given it will be online, but it is set to be as powerful as ever. It will cover an array of themes from family dynamics, estrangement and the strength of the human spirit, to more socially aware tales of class struggle, prejudice and loss due to Covid-19. As ever, these universal and topical issues mean that the festival has appeal for audiences of all ages and backgrounds.”

The annual drama festival showcases local writing and talent, as well as putting the spotlight on a range of issues relevant to the British-Bengali experience. It features 10 plays from east London as well as West Bengal, India and Sylhet Bangladesh.

Mukul & Ghetto Tigers will open the festival with ‘Diamond Babu’s Bengali Bioscope’, a fascinating biography featuring a pioneer of radical south Asian cinema.

Audiences can catch a Bangla adaptation of Hemingway’s literary classic ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ from Theatre Sylhet, with a timeless message about the survival instinct and the strength of the human spirit.

This year’s ‘coming of age’ theme isn’t just about key lessons learned when turning 18 – Udichi Shilpi Goshti UK Shangsad will present ‘Not a Suitable Time’, in which a senior-citizen faces a new era of self-awareness.

There’s a vast array of further drama, music and dance in the programme, before Trioarts will close the festival with ‘Goodbye Friend’, another poignant tale of a deadly pandemic and how it forces a young girl to ‘come of age’ in unexpected ways. 

There will also be a fringe programme of events, including a digital cook-along, film screening, international youth writing project and an online photography exhibition and tour.

Councillor Sabina Akhtar, Cabinet Member for Arts and Culture, said: “With such a diverse programme of events, this year’s Season of Bangla Drama promises to be stimulating and interesting. So, sit back, relax in the comfort of your own home and enjoy all the drama, discussions and action.” 

Posted on Wednesday 4th November 2020