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Ramayana events - July 2008

Lovers, Demons and Kitchen Utensils - Two Millennia of Indian Ramayana Stories
Paula Richman

Monday 7 July 2008

Over the centuries and across the regions of India in its many languages, the extraordinary story of Rama and Sita has been told and enacted in ways that have kept listeners, readers, and audiences spellbound. Drawing on more than 25 years of research on renditions of the Ramayana, Paula Richman surveys tellings dating from the 8th century to the present, as told by poets, artists, playwrights, and grandparents from the hills of the Himalayas to the region where the Bay of Bengal meets the Arabian Sea.

Paula Richman is William H. Danforth Professor of South Asian Religions at Oberlin College, USA.

Event Time: 18.30-20.00
Location: Conference Centre, British Library
Price: £6 (concessions £4)

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The Big Bollywood Dance Class

Tuesday 8 July 2008

Led by Jay Kumar's DanceAsia as a part of Big Dance 2008, a London-wide season that aims to get everyone moving. Suitable for all ages and abilities.

Event Time: 13.00 - 14.00
Location: Piazza, British Library
Price: Free (advanced bookings not required)


Visualising the Ramayana - A Study Day

Tuesday 8 July 2008

Visualising RamayanaPerhaps more than any other story in world literature, the Bible included, the Ramayana has been imaginatively represented in a vast variety of different forms. From ancient painting and sculpture, via shadow puppetry, dance, community plays and mask drama, to contemporary shrines, calendars and diwali effigies. To say nothing of an ever growing catalogue of TV series, films and cartoons. A day of presentations and discussions exploring some of this remarkable richness that still flourishes across Asia.

Contributors include Mary Brockington ,associate of the Sanskrit Department, School of Asian Studies at the University of Edinburgh; theatre directors Jatinder Verma (Tara Arts) and Indhu Rubasingham; Matthew Cohen (Wayang Kulit puppeteer and Senior Lecturer at the Department of Drama and Theatre, UCL Holloway); Stuart Blackburn (School of African and Oriental Studies, London) Kathakali performer Kalamandalam Vijayakumar; and animator Nina Paley, whose film Sita Sings The Blues will be shown in the evening. Other participants to be finalised.

Event Time: 10.00 - 16.30
Location: Conference Centre, British Library
Price: £25 (£15 concessions)

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Film: Sita Sings the Blues

Tuesday 8 July 2008

Nina Paley, USA , 2008, 82 mins

Sita is a goddess separated from her beloved Lord and husband Rama. Nina is an animator whose husband moves to India, then dumps her by email. Three hilarious shadow puppets narrate both ancient tragedy and modern comedy in this dazzlingly animated new interpretation of the Ramayana.

Set to the 1920s jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw, Sita Sings the Blues earns its tagline as "the greatest break-up story ever told".

Directed, written, produced, designed and animated by Nina Paley, who will introduce the screening.

Event Time: 18.30 - 20.00
Location: Conference Centre, British Library
Price: £6 (£4 concessions)

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Rama's Story - How it Began
John Brockington

Wednesday 9 July 2008

Around the 5th century BC a gifted poet composed the basic story which we know as the Ramayana. Ever since its first telling, it has been growing and changing in response to its audience's expectations.

Rama's story in its original conception and early transmission reflects the interests and concerns of the warrior aristocracy: Rama is a martial hero whose actions are accepted without question as necessary and so justified. Next he becomes a moral hero, then a regal but still human figure; later he becomes divine.

The styles, techniques and motives involved in this continuing process of re-creation will be explored as it leads first to the establishment of the text in written form and then to a generally accepted full text during the high point of classical Indian culture, the Gupta period, around the 4th century AD - the Sanskrit Ramayana commonly ascribed to Valmiki.

John Brockington is Honorary Fellow, and former Professor of Sanskrit at the University of Edinburgh.

Event Time: 18.30 - 20.00
Location: Conference Centre, British Library
Price: £6 (£4 concessions)

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Chhau Dance Performances
The Royal Rarhi Chhau Dancers

Thursday 10 - Monday 14 July 2008

A unique opportunity to experience the exuberance of chhau - 'the masked dance of the ancient warrior', which is hugely popular across the tr ibal areas of West Bengal and Bihar that make up the former East Indian kingdom of Rarh. Magnificent outsized masks, breathtaking acrobatics, wild combat and comedy scenes accompanied by powerful drumming make these performances of the Ramayana stories unmissable.

Suitable for all ages.

Chhau Dancers

Photograph: Teresa Franco

Event Time: Weekdays at 17.45 - 19.00
Saturday at 14.30 - 15.45
Sunday at 13.00 - 14.15
Location: Piazza, British Library
Price: Free (advanced booking not required)


Film: Ramayana - The Legend of Prince Rama

Tuesday 15 July 2008

Yugo Sako, Ram Mohan, Japan/India, 1992, 170 mins

A fabulous animated version of the Ramayana that combines the visual flair of Japanese manga and anime (not unlike the work of Spirited Away director Miyazaki) with Indian art forms, resulting a spectacular epic of battles scenes, superhuman feats and magical weaponry that anticipates modern CGI epics, yet remains faithful to Valmiki's original.

Suitable for all ages. Screened with thanks to Shringar Films

Event Time: 18.30 - 21.15
Location: Conference Centre, British Library
Price: £6 (£4 concessions)

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Film: Sampurna Ramayan

Monday 21 July 2008

Babuhai Mistry, 1961, India

One of the greatest film versions, awash with memorable music and starring Mahipal and Anita Guha as Rama and Sita.

Please note that screenings may be from DVD.

Event Time: 18.30 - 21.15
Location: Conference Centre, British Library
Price £6 (£4 concessions)

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Dance Performance

Monday 28 July 2008

A dance programme illustrating episodes from the Ramayana by young dancers from the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. Both North Indian Kathak Dance and South Indian Bharatanatyam Dance styles will be on display.

The Bhavan Centre is the largest centre for Indian art and culture in the UK and they offer training at all levels for dance, music, languages and yoga. In association with Trinity College of Music (Trinity Laban), the Bhavan also offers a B.Mus degree in Indian Music.

Event Time: 13.00-13.50
Location: Piazza, British Library
Price: Free (advanced booking not required)


Ramayana - The Triumph of Light Over Darkness
Vayu Naidu Company

Monday 28 and Tuesday 29 July 2008

Join us as we light up the timeless and enduring world of the Ramayana with the flame of enchanting storytelling and the incense of music. Meet a magical eagle, an amazing flying monkey who shrinks and expands, a ghastly many-headed demon king and mythical warriors; visit a mirror palace under the sea, enchanted gardens, and a monumental bridge over the ocean between India and Sri Lanka.

Acclaimed storyteller Vayu Naidu re-imagines this much-loved story for all ages, and cultures.

Vayu Naidu storytelling

Photograph: Robert Day

Event Time: Monday at 14.00 and 18.30; Tuesday at 18.30
Location: Conference Centre, British Library
Price: £7.50 (£5 concessions, including 18 years and under)

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