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"The Kitchen" to deliver multi-sensory and contemplative music theatre work on cooking and life (with photos)

     Indian theatre director Roysten Abel, who is renowned for exploring his country's cultural heritage on stage, and Can & Abel Theatres will present a new work, "The Kitchen", later this week. In "The Kitchen", audiences are taken on a multi-sensory journey of life through sound, sight, smell, taste and touch as a couple, accompanied by the stirring drumbeats of the mizhavu, a traditional percussion instrument, cook rice pudding on the stage.

     "The Kitchen" wondrously reflects on the intimate relationship between cooking and life. In the programme, an estranged couple wordlessly confront each other as they go through the rituals of blending ingredients for two large pots of paal payasam, a traditional rice pudding. Behind them sit 12 mizhavu drummers in a multi-level edifice 22.5 feet high, built to resemble the sacred instrument they play. As the sensuous performance unfolds, the theatre is suffused with pleasant food aromas and mesmerising drumbeats, actively drawing the audience in to the intangible conflicts embroiling the couple, their inner selves and their reconciliation.

     In Hindu tradition, the body is the vessel of the soul. Apart from featuring mind-cleansing drumbeats, the programme sees the rice pudding linger not only on the palate but also speak to the soul, inspiring thoughts about the meaning of life. The audience will be invited to share the paal payasam after the show.

     Roysten Abel was born in South India. He graduated from the National School of Drama in India before taking an apprenticeship with the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 1995, he returned to India to form the Indian Shakespeare Company. In 1999, he won a Scotsman Fringe First Award with his first original production, "Othello: A Play in Black and White". Later, he created theatre works with musicians, which resulted in two major productions, "The Manganiyar Seduction" and "A Hundred Charmers", which have been taken on tour around the world.

     "The Kitchen" is one of the programmes of the New Vision Arts Festival (NVAF). It will be staged on October 24 and 25 at 8pm at the Sha Tin Town Hall Auditorium. Tickets priced at $300, $260, $180 and $130 are now available at URBTIX. Half-price tickets are available for full-time students, senior citizens aged 60 or above, people with disabilities and their minders, and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Other booking discounts of up to 20 per cent are available for full-price tickets of NVAF performing arts programmes.

     A pre-performance appreciation talk conducted in Cantonese will also be held on October 25 at 7.30pm at the Sha Tin Town Hall Lecture Room. In this 30-minute pre-show talk, scenographer Tsang Man-tung will share his experience of meditation in India, and talk about the links between ritual, cooking and drumming in Indian culture. Admission is free. Limited seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

     The NVAF, organised by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, is running from October 16 to November 16, showcasing an array of innovative and outstanding performances that cross cultural and disciplinary borders. Programme brochures are available at URBTIX outlets or at the festival website

     For programme enquiries, please call 2370 1044. Internet bookings can be made at Telephone credit card bookings can be made on 2111 5999.

Ends/Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Issued at HKT 14:45


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