Saturday, July 12, 2014

Howards End by E.M. Forster – July 11, 2014

Howard's End First Edition 1910 with flyleaf autograph by the author

E.M. Forster's novel has an antique ring and modern readers may find it difficult to enter into sympathy with the characters and the societal context of Edwardian England.

KumKum, Sujatha, Zakia, & Abbas at the Yacht Club before the reading

Forster creates one of the most improbable characters in literature, Leonard Bast, and surrounds him with improbabilities: the morbid interest of two cultured women in his upliftment, the championing of his cause as their moral duty, and the readiness of one of the them to copulate with him as a recompense for poor advice given earlier.

Sujatha, Zakia, & KumKum

There are many themes Forster takes up: class hierarchy and the hypocrisy that lies at the bottom of it, a lament for the passing of pastoral England, socialism and whether being your brother's keeper is necessary in the modern world.


Two worthy women enliven the novel: the wise Mrs Wilcox, long-suffering in her marriage to a man who shared none of her sympathies; and the mature Margaret who knew she had to put her husband in his place once, in order for the marriage to survive on a equal basis.

Kavita, Sujatha, KumKum, Vijay, & Joe (Zakia left early for the Iftar)

Read more by clicking below ...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Poetry Reading – June 13, 2014

KRG readers gathered to read poetry on June 13, 2014

Thirteen of us met on an occasion when two new members were trying us out, while (sadly) our youngest member, Esther, was on her way out with a new position in Chennai. It was much later than usual when we finished, testament to our fervent discussions and the number who were in attendance.

Sujatha Warrier, Sreelatha Chakravarty, KumKum, Talitha

Two poets from Russia, four from India, and one each from Pakistan, Greece, and Iraq, stood apart from the usual bag of British and American poets, five in number. Most unusually, we had a ghazal chanted by a new reader, Pamela.

Talitha, Gopa, Ankush, Thomo

Poets without rhyme, or reason, or metre, combined with those who performed exquisitely within those constraints. While all poets are contemporary in their time, very few remain ‘contemporary’ hundreds of years later.

Preeti, Pamela, Zakia, Sujatha, Sreelatha

Here is a picture of the group, a bit exhausted after the ardent session.

Preeti, Esther, Priya, Talitha, KumKum, Gopa, Pamela, Sreelatha, Ankush, Joe (Zakia, Sujatha, & Thomo left early)

For a full account of the poems we read and the discussions they provoked, click below.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Shakespeare 450th Birth Anniversary Festival – Workshops on Apr 24 & 25, 2014: Romeo & Juliet, and Macbeth

'My only love sprung from my only hate'

Our UK visitors, Madhav Sharma and Miranda Lapworth, conducted two workshops, introducing Shakespeare to participants through stage acting. On Apr 24 they took up scenes from Romeo and Juliet for acting, and on Apr 25 it was Macbeth. The film shows of the two plays had been arranged on the day prior to the workshops.

'this my hand will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine'

The participants were divided into groups of two or three as required and handed out the text of short scenes, for example, the opening scene from R &J where the servants of the Capulet and Montague families go about insulting and taunting each other until swords are drawn and a brawl ensues.

Miranda Lapworth with participants in the Romeo & Juliet Workshop on Apr 24

First, the workshop attendees focused on what the scene was about, the emotions and underlying tensions, and how they are manifested by the characters playing the scene. Then one had to visualise how to occupy the space on the stage and the orientation of the players and significant gestures by them. Imaginative recreations of the atmosphere and the physical locale (e.g. framing the balcony with two pairs of hands forming an arch for the Balcony Scene from R & J) were constructed with the guidance of the workshop conductors.

Madhav Sharma with participants in the Romeo & Juliet Workshop, Apr 24

The participants were carried away with enthusiasm for the scene being enacted and put all their energy in getting it right. The scene was repeated several times by each group to introduce improvements. Madhav Sharma reiterated that there is no one way to do a scene, and the same actor will try out different methods, proving thereby that the play has riches to be discovered only by studying and working on the underlying text.

Anna Raju & Sudakshna Thampi, Amita Palat at the R & J Workshop, Apr 24

In what follows is the text of the scenes from the play (all edited for brevity), and pictures of the workshops in process.

To read more, click below.