Imagine watching Shakespeare’s The Tempest in a circus tent, as a circus troupe and theatre actors use magic tricks, illusions, gypsy art, puppetry, martial arts, dance and music to tell Prospero’s story.
You might then want to attend a concert by a renowned khayal artist on a river cruise at dusk, or learn about speed networking in a one-time palace, and wind up at a workshop on feni appreciation.
The newest event on Goa’s cultural calendar, the Serendipity Festival, will run from December 16 to 23 and is certainly not short on unusual experiences.
“We’re looking at creating an interdisciplinary space that starts interdisciplinary conversations and gets young people to engage with the arts,” says Smriti Rajgarhia, director of the Delhi-based Serendipity Arts Trust, an initiative that promotes creativity in art and culture.
Programmes cover performing, visual and culinary arts and events are spread across the 1.8-km stretch along Panaji’s Mandovi river.
“We chose Goa because this is where Indians and tourists love visiting, and where the local government and people are tremendously supportive of the arts. The aim is to make this an international festival,” says Sangita Jindal, one of the festival’s patrons. “There’s very little patronage for the arts in India — it takes a backseat to other more pressing problems; but everyone needs food for thought.”
There will be plenty to chew on at Serendipity as the culinary events explore food history, techniques and tastings.
“Food reflects society as much as any other art,” says Rajgarhia. “It’s an integral part of where we’ve come from and where we’re going.”
The festival has 14 curators, from chef Manu Chandra and vocalist Shubha Mudgal to artist Riyas Komu and photography expert Dinesh Khanna. It’s making for some interesting crossovers, Rajgarhia says.
Photo and art exhibitions will share themes, a world-class pianist will improvise with Carnatic kritis, and in the case of The Tempest, perhaps some performers can find new hope. “The circus comes under the sports authority but there’s no funding for the struggling form,” says Jindal. “Perhaps theatre can offer them a livelihood.”
On the cards also is an installation of crowdsourced selfies; Dastangoi and traditional Himalayan storytelling sessions; and a series of all-day concerts composed live by seven artists over eight days.
“The culture lover in India has evolved,” says Jindal. “You see new faces and more young people at cultural events now. We don’t want the arts to be just for the chosen few. The festival hopes to take them out to the people.”