In Theatre and Performance
Strengthening the community through the promotion of interaction, Seagull has played a developmental role within the arts community through its unique position as both facilitator and participant, usually responding to articulated needs from within the arts community.
Seagull’s beginnings were as an impresario and production unit for theatre and performance. It played a leading role in developing and presenting English Language theatre in Calcutta, with the aim of building a growing audience of younger theatre goers. Simultaneously, Seagull tried to develop an awareness for the need of arts sponsorship from the business community. It also saw the value of cultural interaction through collaborative activity with the various Cultural Divisions of the French, German, British, and American consulates.
Innovative shows and unusual events were a Seagull hallmark. A concert by Xenakis in the Birla Planetarium, Stockhausen played under the stars in the Eastern Quadrangle of the Victoria Memorial (the first time these venues were ever accessed for a music event), theatre by the deaf, and rock concerts, were some of the wide range of events presented by Seagull from the mid-70s to the mid-80s. Amongst the long list of people presented by Seagull in these years are Geoffrey and Laura Kendall, Satyadev Dubey, Naseeruddin Shah, Harimadhab Mukherjee who directs Triteertha in Balurghat in North Bengal, H. Kanhailal from Manipur, and Tripti Mitra—a mix of the well and lesser known names in contemporary theatre of the time.
New Indian Playwrights Series: In a country divided by language, regional traditions and cultural variations, promoting cultural interaction across differences becomes all the more important. In the field of theatre, there was a major gap of knowledge of one another’s theatre tradition between the different states. Responding to this situation, and the lack of familiarity with playwriting traditions between the different states, Seagull conceived a translation and publication programme for contemporary playwriting. The project was to carefully and systematically undertake translations of contemporary plays by playwrights in different regional languages. This is an ongoing series and several translations are in the pipeline. Regional languages from which plays have been translated include Bengali, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Malayalam, Kannada, and Manipuri.
Seagull Theatre Quarterly (STQ): In the course of its involvement with the world of theatre, Seagull grew to realize that there appeared to be a crying need within the field for a national-level theatre journal that would fulfil a networking and developmental function, linking up theatre workers through the country who are not part of the commercial mainstream on which the media tends to focus almost exclusively; providing access to significant happenings; allowing information, ideas and experiences to travel freely in performance circles; and bringing theatre workers and audiences serious critique, theoretical analysis, responsible, informed reviewing and information dissemination. STQ grew out of the recognition of this need.
The only all-India Journal in English of contemporary theatre and performance, STQ approaches theatre and performance as a social phenomenon which is rooted in and grows out of specific cultural and historical contexts. In keeping with this, STQ lays strong emphasis on generating original material and in retrieving and preserving oral histories of workers and performers from indigenous performing traditions as well as ‘modern’ theatre, through indepth first-person accounts.