Theatre is live and immediate

Mukul Ahmed started his theatre career with The Half Moon Theatre, London. In 2007 he completed the Birkbeck MFA Theatre Directing programme. He has since gone onto direct a series of classics, new writing and play readings (nominated for the Amnesty Award). Mukul has participated in the Step Change programme successfully and Staff Directed at the National Theatre, England. 

Internationally Mukul Ahmed has directed Faust, Devdas and Three Girls from Shakespeare by Farrukh Dhondy; night, Mother by Marsha Norman; Julius Caesar, A Midsummer Night's Dream and Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare; Black Moon; Sonata by Mahesh Elkuncwar and Oscar and the lady in Pink by Eric - Emmanuel Schmitt. Future plans include Olga's Room by Dea Loher and Roberto Zucco by Bernard-Marie Koltes in India.  Mukul Ahmed is the Artistic director of Mukul and Ghetto Tigers. 

How did you get interested in theatre? 

The madness that is theatre took hold of me as I went to the United Kingdom (in 1990) where I plunged into a career in theatre at the Half Moon Theatre.  Later on I completed the University of London MFA Theatre Directing programme in 2007.  
How would you describe your work to somebody- Do you have a style or a defining characteristic that runs throughout your plays?

I should state that my first and foremost obligation is to build a strong team even before I embark on the body of the work. I work from the premise that I know nothing!  The cast and the crew are the ones who bring their experience and talent with them to me. And slowly I handover the ownership of the play to the cast and the crew.  I consider myself to be the person who brings them together to create the magic on stage. Music (mostly live) plays a defining role in all my plays.

A big number of theatre and performance artists are producing new works and new modes of expression in order to dramatize the more current and urgent sociopolitical developments. 

Do you think local political theatre has any impact on what is going on in society?

Of course it does. Any form of art is deeply political. Hence political theatre agitates, provokes and reflects the sociopolitical developments of a given society.

Do you think in this world of hyper-digitalization, face to face interaction of art with audience has lost out to internet and its mode of communication?

Not at all. Theatre is live and immediate. It creates an unique human experience that no other form of art can do. The magic of theatre makes us realise the truth. People come to see live acting in order to be provoked, challenged and entertained.

                                                                                -  Mukul Ahmed

In your opinion, what are the most exciting developments in contemporary theatre today? 

Interactive performance, creating non-proscenium theatre, minimalism in expression and live streaming.

What advice would you give to people interested in pursuing a career i in theatre?

I don't consider myself to be an authority and I am not very comfortable in this regard. However, my humble suggestion should be - Dedication, Devotion and Discipline.  


The “Mind-Body “Battle

Recently, First Chess Boxing Amateur World Championships was organized by Chess Boxing Organization of India in association with World Chess Boxing Organization took place in Kolkata. More than a hundred fighters from all over the world like Russia, India, Iran, France and Italy participated. Thomas Cazeneuve from France was the official amateur chess boxing world championship gold medalist at the tournament.

How long have you been chess boxing for and what got you into it?

My first chess boxing fight was in January 2015. It was a kind of show for a French web series on Canal+, so not a real fight, more a demonstration to promote the sport! I've been interested in this sport since a longer time but I couldn't find an opportunity to fight! I made 3 more after + this tournament and won all of them! I started fighting when I was 15, by doing kick boxing, French boxing, MMA also and now only boxing! I started chess when I was 4 years old!

What sort of strength and conditioning program do you follow?

I'm training 6 days / week in boxing. I have also a diet and I'm trying to live in the more healthy way possible! Concerning chess, it's everyday by learning theory, openings, endings etc.

What has been the most memorable fight for you?

I think the most memorable fight for me and also the hardest was my first official fight in Berlin for the Intellectual Fight Club! I was fighting Igor, a Russian man from the Moscow chess boxing club! I won the fight in the 5th round of chess after 4 rounds of boxing!

How is the present scenario of chess boxing in France?

I'm trying to create the French federation currently! Wilfried, Matthieu and Stephane have the same will so together we will come up with something very interesting! For me a lot of people are curious about this discipline and there is really something to do about it! And maybe a chess boxing will be organized in Montpellier in May!

Do you have any advice for youngsters who are considering taking up chess boxing professionally?

My advice will be to train in both disciplines. It's not enough if you're a good boxer but not a good chess player and the contrary is also true. You really need to focus on this sport as a whole! Also, always stay focus it's never over! Your opponent can make a big mistake on the board, you can throw a lucky punch etc. Chess boxing is very tricky, make strategy! If you're better in chess, don't take any risk in boxing for instance!

And of course it's like everything, there is no secret, there is no shortcut, if you want something you just don't count the cost and do whatever it takes to get it. Don't listen to anybody, believe in yourself, you can achieve anything you want.


Holly Riva, singing with passion and purpose for positive change.

Holly Riva Moore, 14 years old, a passionate member of the Sydney Australia arts community and Nida, Australia’s leading school for Acting and performing.   Joining The Australian Theatre for Young People at the tender age of 3 ( ATYP ) in which many of the Australian greats studied such as Cate Blanchet, Nicole Kidman and Rebel Wilson.

After staring in many theatre productions, Holly is excited to have a new challenge, being signed up for a half feature European/Australian production, being filmed in Europe later this year. Holly takes the role of “Fleur” a ghost teenager and honored to have written a song featured in the movie.

Holly’s love of singing, acting and dancing has enabled her to perform in many counties worldwide, from as far as London Park Lane to Rishikesh India. In Rishikesh India, Holly sang by the river Ganges for the United Nations “Wonderful World, “to over 5,000 thousand people, celebrating Diwali and promoting clean water and global awareness.

Holly is proud to be an ambassador for The Hope Foundation Kolkata that looks after underprivileged street children; her message is “kids for kids”. Holly shares her gift in bringing a little magic to others lives. Once a year embracing a crowd of over 3000 people in performing and generating awareness at Foundation Day Kolkata.

Holly has a passion for writing her own music and is working towards producing her own album and currently rehearsing for events in Sydney, London and India later this year. Recently she performed at the Oxford Bookstore, Kolkata organised by Earth Day Network-India.

Who/what inspires you musically?

I have a large appetite for a variety of different genres of music including jazz, soul and pop with a twist of ethnic Indian. My favourite artists include- Adele, Lady Rizo, Michel Buble, Aretha Franklin, Amy Winehouse and Sukanya Gosh.

Any specific song that is close to your heart and what is the story behind the song?

Summertime has inspired me as an artist as it is so powerful and timeless due to its metaphors of freedom and justice of the African American community.

I heard this song when I was seven years old, it touched my heart and ignited my artistic passion to interpret and create my own version which was my first time I ever made a rendition of a song. I have proudly sung this song all around the world.

What stands out as being one of the highlights of your career?

There has been many however 3 that come to mind are;
I opened Diwali singing for the Governor General of UP and swami Chidanada in Rishikesh it was beyond belief as thousands of people lined the holy river and I felt spiritually transported. London Park Lane, Four Seasons Hotel for a private fund raising function for the Hope Foundation, many high profile people attended. It was such an honour to close the event.

I am also an actor and was fortunate to have a lead role in a 3 month production called Mum and Dad, performed on stage in my home town of Sydney Australia.

You are a young Ambassador for Hope Foundation. Do you think that a musical artist has a sort of obligation to society?

I honestly feel that as an artist we have not so much an obligation more so a choice to create awareness with matters that concern us and close to our hearts. Allot of entertainers are not interested and that's their choice. For me singing with a purpose is more inspiring and far more powerful in change making.

Pic courtesy : Oxford Bookstore Kolkata
What are some of your most memorable experiences in Kolkata?

From the age of eight I have performed in the Science City stadium in Kolkata for The Hope Foundation. The feeling of having over four thousand people watching your performance is beyond words and joining in with the children of Hope in their amazing performances is truly magical. On that stage at the age of eight I had this amazing moment when I decided that this is my passion, this is what I’m going to do for the rest of my life.

What can your fans look forward to in the future?

This year I am so excited to announce I’m acting in a short feature film called “Reflexione”. 
We are shooting in Austria and I am honoured to play the third main. This will be shown at all the international film festivals around the world. I have written a song that production has approved for the movie! It’s my first song I have written for a film.

Also continue to write songs for my future album due to be released within two years. I am hoping to also return to Kolkata late October to perform live.


Kabaddi is gaining a foothold in Kenya

Phelix Odhiambo Opana from Kenya first came to India to represent Bengal Warriors in the third season of Star Sports Pro Kabaddi.

You can take the Kenyan out of athletics, but you can't take the athlete out of a Kenyan.  What makes Kenyan great sportsperson?

A Kenyan sportsperson I think is natural on their system since practice starts from childhood to date depending on a chosen sport of a person’s interest.

How did your interest for kabaddi happen?

I meet Simon kibura at the gym invited me to check out on the game and that's how the interest developed.

What is the present scenario of kabaddi in Kenya?

Kabaddi is the biggest game now in Kenya but with little government support but we hope for the best in coming days.

Is kabaddi gaining popularity in Kenya?

So far kabaddi is the talking game in town everyone is interested in knowing how it’s done especially after our performance in 2016 world cup and last month beach kabaddi tournament in Mauritius.

You have played various sports. How supportive were your parents? Was there any person who inspired you?

My family is a sports family. My dad is a military football coach and present referee in Kenyan football federation while my three sisters are international football players in Norway and United States of America. My mother used to be a volleyball player so there is positive support and my dad is always my mentor.

According to you what qualities should one have to excel in kabaddi?

To me experience first, agility, awareness, strength, flexibility; fiscally fitness too adds a plus to a kabaddi champion.

How has been your experience in India so far?

India is the best place to be.


Oneness and compassion for all beings

Jules Febre is an internationally acclaimed Advanced Certified Jivamukti Yoga Teacher. He began his practice at the age of 6. Jules travels the world teaching Jivamukti Yoga, Hip Hop Asana, as well as immersion programs and retreats.  Jules teaches a rigorous class with creative sequencing permeated by yoga philosophy with joyful wisdom that inspires uplifts and serves all those he meets. Recently he conducted a Yoga Workshop at the Indian Council For Cultural Relations, Kolkata.

What brought you to yoga at such a young age?

I can’t say that there was any real divine inspiration on my part. I have an aunt and uncle (Sharon Gannon and David Life) who are very much into yoga practice. They are the one who started teaching me yoga. So I started practicing pretty regularly  from a young age. At the age of 13, I spent three months in India; two of which were spent in Mysore studying Ashtanga Yoga with Sri. K. Pattabhi Jois. During that time I was invited to share satsang with Swami Nirmalananda and Shyam Das.

Could you explain the basic philosophy of Jivamukti Yoga?

There are two elements. We advocate that the goal of yoga should be remembered by the practitioner and by the student. Sometimes, Yoga these days is only concerned with very short term benefits.  The aspect of the Yoga practice that really differentiates it from other things is the intention. The intention is to have an end result that benefits more people than just yourself. Jivamukti Yoga is interested in this idea of yoga of moksha/mukti/nirvana with using compassion as a means. Compassion not just for humans but for non human animal as well. We have a strong emphasis on ethical vegetarianism.

Also, the practice is very rigorous. We want the teacher and the students to challenge ourselves/themselves intellectually and to be engaged politically. We want to be role models socially. We want to have large impact as possible. We want for yoga practitioners to be synonymous with those of good character who are interested in improving the whole world.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from a life devoted to learning and teaching yoga?

Though there are several lessons, one of the things I try to remind myself is an act of sense of humility. Humility is not false modesty. Humility comes also with some responsibility to make change but it also not so arrogant that you don’t hurt others unnecessarily on your way to try to make the world a better place even in some small way.

What do you want your students to take away from your classes/workshops?

The main thing is-What we do matters. Only thing that matters is what we do. We live in a world culture that encourages us to take advantage of other people and of other non human animals of the world and that if you don’t take something you will never get it. What I am hoping is that through the yoga practice we start to see that the world doesn’t belong to us and that we are incredibly dependent upon the world.

What is Hip Hop Asana?

I teach a lot at risk children- children who have had trouble with the law, they have been to jail or might stand a chance of going to jail, or they have been kicked out of school or they are homeless. I come from a hip hop background. A lot of these children come from a hip hop background. So if I show up in a probation centre or a homeless centre and if I am playing a kirtan they wont relate to that. I was in a similar situation. Yoga helped me to understand the importance of my own action. Hip hop for me is the common language. So I have some hip hop beats but everything else is the same- breathe awareness, meditation technique, asanas and the philosophy. The whole idea is also to inspire people even if they didn’t grow up with hip hop. Yoga is multi dimensional -you can keep it pure and still let it be influenced in some ways by other things.

There are yoga sites that offer online subscriptions to follow yoga classes.  Your thoughts on online yoga classes?

You can’t undermine the value of having a teacher.  I haven’t met many people who claimed to be enlightened from an online course or had profound spiritual experience from online courses.  I think that in a world where people are so on a move, if it is a question between nothing and some form of daily inspiration may be better to have some of form of inspiration but it’s not to replace the relationship between the students and teachers.  This is invaluable because the teacher acts as a mirror. We live in an age where everybody knows everything and this leads to a certain kind of jaded interaction and people lack appreciation lot of human contact.

What is the Importance of Yoga in the modern world?

My teacher believes that the reason that yoga is so popular today because the earth needs more people to slow this incredible process(not necessarily progress) that is causing massive destruction on a scale that we have never seen before. Yes we have more information but it’s not always having the desired outcome. I hope that yoga causes people to have an awareness of how our actions continue to resonate and affects other people.

What is your advice to yoga beginners?

You can always tell when someone is a beginner. They are always worried about the goal, the end result. When you talk to somebody who is well practiced then they sees that the path is almost endless.  The end result may never come. So patience is very important.  If you are interested in overcoming the fluctuations in the mind that cause lack of self confidence, if you are interested in overcoming  the habits that cause mental and physical distraction/sickness  to yourself and others then practice yoga. You have to willing to put everything in your practice. Change usually doesn’t come when you are comfortable. You have to be willingly to be uncomfortable.


Thumbs up to hitchhiking

Ensar Sevindik started hitchhiking when he was only 15 years old. He used to go to school in local public bus. The government sold it to a private company. They raised the prices of the ticket. Ensar says “I and my friend decided not to use the bus. I have read about hitchhiking. I thought of trying hitchhiking with my friend. I still remember the driver of the car asking me “Where are you going kids?” We said to him that we were going to school. He said to jump in.” That’s how it began. Everyday Ensar used to hitchhike to school. During the summers he used to hitchhike to beaches. Later on he started to hitchhike to other cities. Ensar fell in love with hitchhiking. “Hitchhiking is undoubtedly a glorious way to experience the essence of wandering. You can make new friends. Exchange experiences, thoughts and stories with your new companions, get to know them. You’ll be surprised how much you can learn!”

Talking about inspiration Ensar says,” It is not about the destination, rather the journey. It gives the chance to meet locals, learn more about their country from their point of view and have a more in depth insight into their culture.”

Ensar found India to be the most Hospitable country. “The sheer love that was showered on me by random people was overwhelming. I landed in India with $2 in my pocket. Our flight company lost our luggage. So we convinced the security guards to let us go out from the airport since the cost of food inside the lounge was expensive. So I played ukulele on the street and people gave me money. One memorable incident was on my way to Nepal. I reached Raxaul at night. The hotel didn’t allow any foreigners. But this one guy in Raxaul was very helpful and rode for 2 hrs with me.”

Ensar feels the driving speed on Indian road is a challenge for a hitchhiker. It’s not good to hitchhike at night.  The most seasoned hitchhikers, when reaching India, often jump on a train. Ensar says that hitchhiking in Turkey is very famous. Children’s in high schools are hitchhiking. There is a Facebook page on hitchhiking Turkey. More of female are getting into hitchhiking.

Ensar’s word of advice for people who are interested in hitchhiking“First start, in your city. Then make short distance hitchhiking. Wear clothes that area clean and decent. There will be times when you wait no more than few minutes, but there will also be times when you wait for hours. Have considerable patience. Give a good excuse to get off if you feel uncomfortable with the driver. Hitchhiking at night is definitely not as easy as during daylight. So try to avoid night time hitchhiking.”

Ensar left his engineering studies. But he considers himself to be a student of University of Life.

For details check these links-


Art-An Imitation of Life

As a painter and calligrapher, Ziba Vishteh, from Iran, paints portraits of men and women and -in the process dives deep into their personality traits, narrow curves and tiny voices of their psychological intent. Her compositions seem as if the world has been buried under the blind patches and bold strokes of warm colors reminiscent of the works of those German Expressionists. Ziba was one of the Fifteen artists from eight countries who came together recently in Kolkata to express their vision to create a symphony of visual, where the artists have tried to remove boundaries. Sixth Dimensions organized this International Art Show titled ‘WE DO NOT WANT TO DRAW THE LINE’ at Birla Academy of Art and Culture.

When did you realize you had an aptitude for painting and what motivated you to take this route?

The Art has come to me naturally there was no motivation or inspiration factor. After graduating from Technical University in Architecture, I couldn't pursue in the field of architecture due to certain family reasons but since I always wanted to do and achieve something in life, I started learning Painting and Calligraphy, with passing time my interest in Art kept developing and I continued with experience the Painting is a passion for me, I enjoy my each new painting

What is the inspiration behind your paintings? Does each piece have its own approach and inspiration, or is it just simply that you enjoy painting and painting what comes to mind at the moment?

My paintings has many stories, they are inspired by my friends, life incidents and the people around me. At times when I see some unusual happening or object ,first I think about it and see it again n again then it gets registered in my mind and finally it drops down on my Canvas ,but to tell you the truth it is always me on the canvas(portrait) .

What has been your biggest struggle as an artist so far?

At times my art is affected when I see, many of my people in pain and this pain travels to me and makes me depressed as well . The other problem I see being a woman that in all circumstances whether it is human relation ,family life or society obligations,only woman suffer the most ,though I never say men don't suffer . The other concern for me this war in world, these conflicts among religions, societies and countries, as an artist I look for peace for all human being.


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