In January 2020, I met Ellada Evangelou – Artistic Director of the Buffer Fringe Festival in Cyprus – at the ISPA Congress in New York. This unusual festival is produced by the Home for Cooperation that is located in the Buffer Zone that separates the northern part of Cyprus, which is administered by the Turkish Cypriot Administration, from the southern part which is under the Republic of Cyprus. The HoC is “a bridge-builder between separated communities, memories and visions”, and the Buffer Fringe exemplifies this thinking. The 2020 festival theme focussed on Displacement – of people, places, cultures, ideas. I was delighted to propose and create this project centring on the climate crisis with an entirely Cypriot cast, though not so delighted to create it entirely via Zoom!
Rivers of Memory is the first performance piece within the larger lens of A Multitude of Drops, imagined and created along with various collaborators. A Multitude of Drops emerges from performance research and extended workshops investigating the climate crisis and artistic responses to it, and builds bridges between the Sundarbans in India and other parts of the world.
In Rivers of Memory, we explore our various relationships to water, land and all they stand for, moving fluidly between the Sundarbans mangrove forests in the vast south Bengal delta and the rivers and shores of the island of Cyprus. The piece has been built with and through specific rhythm structures and variations from the Indian dance form of kathak, along with movement and text improvisations developed with the cast over a collaborative workshop. Journeying with myth, memory, history, geography, politics and personal experiences, we examine the intricate interconnections that draw our environments together as well as pull them apart.
Read more on A Multitude of Drops
The piece was created entirely via Zoom during the lockdown and travel restrictions of the COVID19 pandemic. Over two months of discussion and devising the Cypriot cast met in small groups in Nicosia and Limasol with the Indian team meeting in Calcutta. The final performance was put together in six days – (including technical rehearsals via Zoom!) – and premiered at the Buffer Fringe Festival in Nicosia on 6 December 2020 before a live, physically distanced audience.
Read our blog posts on the process.
The project gave us the unique opportunity to work with Cyprus-based academic and activist Maria Hadjimichael, to understand the complexities of the local socio-political and economic concerns that affected climate and land issues in Cyprus.
The fractured nature of the process also included making the piece in various fragments in various spaces in Calcutta, Nicosia and Limasol. This is an international company where the Indians and Cypriots have not yet met in person!
Concept and Direction:
Research and Development:
Workshop and Devising:
Choreography and Movement:
Devised and Created with:
Sound Design and Arrangement:
Original Texts from:
Translations to English:
Translations to Greek:
Lav Kanoi, Vicky Long
Vikram Iyengar, Lav Kanoi
Vikram Iyengar, Lav Kanoi,
Vikram Iyengar, Amlan Chaudhuri
Andreas Patsias, Evie Demetriou,
Lyda Karayianni, Marian Kyprianou,
Subhagata Singha, Vikram Iyengar
Various works by Amitav Ghosh, Vicky Long, Kunwar Narayan, Maria Hadjimichael et al, Ganga Stotram (Adi Shankaracharya), Rg Ved, Shiva Tandav Stotra, personal contributions of company
Rajeshwari Ganguly Banerjee
Anubha Fatehpuria, Lav Kanoi
Vikram Iyengar, Samila Bhattacharya,
Amlan Chaudhuri, Lav Kanoi
Ranan, India (Calcutta): Vikram Iyengar (Artistic Director), Jayati Chakraborty (Administrator) & Home for Cooperation/ Buffer Fringe Festival, Cyprus (Nicosia): Ellada Evangelou (Artistic Director), Nihal Soganci / Maria Varnakkidou (Creative Directors), Lefki Lambrou (Director, Home for Cooperation)