“He wept for living. And seeing the day they had to leave, he wept for himself. For never again would he have a family. A home. And someone to love him as much as they did. He wept because god had forsaken him. And never again would he be that same little boy.”
Apsaras Arts Dance Company is set to restage their production Agathi this April, in collaboration with local theatre company Wild Rice.
In Agathi, expect to examine the lives and plights of refugees through a unique fusion of theatre, poetry and the classical Indian dance of Bharatanatyam. Displaced for reasons of political turmoil or natural calamity, the refugee embarks on a journey to seek acceptance – rebuilding a life, a home and an identity, while battling prejudices and overcoming trauma.
Agathi draws inspiration from Apsaras Arts Artistic Director Aravinth Kumarasamy’s own experience as a refugee in his youth, as well as the lives of refugee children all over the world. Boldly reimagined in collaboration with Wild Rice’s Artistic Director, Ivan Heng, Agathi poignantly shines a spotlight on the human beings who find themselves caught between countries and trapped in the headlines.
Following its premiere at Singapore’s Esplanade Theatre in 2017, Agathi has since toured the world, receiving acclaim in the United Kingdom, France and India. This reimagined production will bring Bharatanatyam, the oldest classical dance tradition in India, to the rivetingly intimate stage of The Ngee Ann Kongsi Theatre for the first time.
“Agathi promises a novel way to experience the beauty, drama and storytelling potential inherent in the classical dance tradition of Bharatanatyam,”
– Wild Rice’s Artistic Director, Ivan Heng
“I’m excited to help reimagine this spectacular piece for Wild Rice’s thrust stage. We have presented opera, chamber music and, of course, theatre performances in our venue. Agathi promises a novel way to experience the beauty, drama and storytelling potential inherent in the classical dance tradition of Bharatanatyam,” says Heng. “We hope that this collaboration will give both Apsaras Arts and Wild Rice the opportunity to reach out to new audiences.”
Agathi was conceptualised and is directed by Kumarasamy. It features choreography by Mohanapriyan Thavarajah, dramaturgy by Ivan Heng of Wild Rice and a narrative script by Audrey Perera and Alfian Sa’at. It draws inspiration from A Book of Poems: Expressions from our Youth, published in 2011 by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The score incorporates Tamil poems by reputed poets Mahakavi Subramania Bharathi, Bharathi Dasan, Kavimani Desiga Vinayagam Pillai and Kaviarasu Kannadasan, as well as contemporary young poet Niranjan Bharathi.
“At the heart of Agathi is our goal of giving voice to the poetry of refugee children from around the world – to chronicle and explore their shared experience of fleeing from their homes and rebuilding lives in new lands through dance, music, poetry and dramatic theatre,” says Kumarasamy.
“We are excited to present Agathi in Singapore after successful international tours to the United Kingdom and France. Ivan and Wild Rice are important role models in Singapore on how art can transform, teach and heal. I am personally honoured to collaborate with them in presenting Agathi – the first such showcase of Indian classical dance theatre at the groundbreaking Ngee Ann Kongsi Theatre in Funan. Ivan and I believe this production will be a memorable experience for all.”
AGATHI | Refugee plays from 2nd to 4th April 2021 at Wild Rice @ Funan. Tickets available from SISTIC