West Coast Tagore Festival 2017: Tagore and the Bauls

Photos by Prajit Biswas

THE Vancouver Tagore Society’s seventh annual West Coast Tagore Festival, at Richmond’s Gateway Theatre, proved yet again the power of arts and multiculturalism to bring people together. Featuring local and foreign artists in music, poetry, dance, acting, and lecture, there was never a dull moment to be found within the four “parts” the program was loosely split into over the weekend of August 11-12.

This year’s theme was “Tagore and the Bauls.” The Bauls are a small group of Bengali mystic minstrels and proponents of social reform and spiritual wisdom.

The festival included such highlights as a Baul-inspired poetry contest, including poets from the Lower Mainland, the Sunshine Coast, Bellingham, WA, and Atlanta, GA; a fascinating lecture on Bauls and their connection to the history of Indian social reform and Rabindranath Tagore over time by Santanu Mitra; performances by students of the Vancouver Tagore Society’s new weekly Tagorean song and dance workshop series; a multilingual poetic “Woven Tapestry of Words” by World Poetry; music and poetry by several artists; and selections of Baul songs from Rabindranath Tagore, Kabir, and Lalon Fakir by many artists such as Akhil Jobanputra and Navida Ikram.

The weekend’s feature presentation was “Amol,” a wonderful piece of theatre weaving together songs, dance, poetry and drama, based on the character from Tagore’s drama “Post-Office.” The story took audiences into the mind of Amol, an innocent orphan boy unable to leave his home. Over the course of the drama, he meets a wise Baul and learns to find peace and refuge in fantastical places. The theatre was scripted and directed by Dr. Shankhanaad Mallick, Sabuj Mazumder and Avik Dey; noted dancer Armo Kamolika choreographed and directed the dance segments. The festival was coordinated by Ayan Sarkar.

Photos and videos from the event will be uploaded to www.vancouvertagoresociety.org.