Ramleela in Trinidad : 100 Years of the Felicity Open-Air, Folk Theatre Tradition

Format:Paper Back


Author:Satnarine Balkaransingh


MRP : Rs. 2000/-

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Rs. 2000/-


Ramleela in Trinidad : 100 Years of the Felicity Open-Air, Folk Theatre Tradition

Additional Information

Ramleela is the story or Leela ('play') of the legend of Prince Rām of Ayodhya, India, battling demi gods, demons and king Rawan to rescue beautiful Princess Sita from Lanka. This ancient, epic story of the Ramayana; later narrated in Tulsidas's Ramcharitmanas, and introduced to the Caribbean by Indian, indentured workers, it has been flourishing as Ramleela, folk theatre, in Trinidad for over 130 years. It is performed continuously in the village, now town, of Felicity for over 100 years. The residents of Felicity-a village carved out of former sugarcane lands, at the edge of the Caribbean Sea-have been performing their Ramleela annually for eleven consecutive days with the grandeur and panache of village pageantry. This particular production has been mentioned by two Nobel laureates; Sir Vidya Naipaul and Derek Walcott. Part I of the book deals with the issues that the immigrant East Indian community grapples with, in establishing their space and identity within the new landscape. Part II is centered in Felicity with its unique history, geography and demography. Part III documents the story, as dramatised; the circumstances of Rām's birth, his education and training, marriage, exile, trials and tribulations, battles, overcoming magic and illusion, his victory over king Rāwan and his triumphant return to rule the Kingdom of Ayodhya The story is presented through a combination of acting, vocal and instrumental music, supporting props, décor, lighting and costuming. Its multi-layered meanings have been explained through the use of masks and forms of masking, guise and disguise, at the physical and metaphysical levels. The pageant incorporates burlesque, humour, satire, village commerce and entertainment on the fringe, a complete mela, attracting young and old, the religious and the secular. These multiple features have expanded the annual audiences of the Leela while enhancing the rich, diverse heritage of Trinidad and Tobago's cultural landscape in the 21st century.

About the writer

Satnarine Balkaransingh

Satnarine Balkaransingh Dr. Satnarine Balkaransingh, born in Trinidad, is a published author on diverse subjects: from development economics and commerce to folk performative traditions and the arts. He co-edited 'Reigniting The Ancestral Fires: Heritage, Traditions And Legacies Of The First Peoples' (2017); co-authored 'Kunuwaton: The Culture and Cuisine of the Santa Rosa First Peoples of Arima, Kairi' (2014); and authored 'The Shaping Of A Culture: Rituals and Festivals in Trinidad compared with selected counterparts in India'; 1990-2014 (2016). Co-founder of the Nrityanjali Theatre Inc. (1977); founder and Artistic Director of the 'Kathak Kala Sangam' of Trinidad and Tobago (2009), he has scripted dance-ballets and directed scores of stage and TV productions. His work has been featured in India, North and South America, the Caribbean and on BBC. A former senior public servant in the government of Trinidad and Tobago, Balkaransingh studied in India: B.A. (Hons.) Economics, (Delhi Univ.); Post-Grad. Kathak dance (Kathak Kendra, Delhi), under Guru, Pt. Birju Maharaj; in UK: MSc. Proj. Planning and National Development, Univ. of Bradford; and in Trinidad; PhD., 'Cultural Studies' from the Univ. of Trinidad & Tobago (UTT). He lectures, advises and performs internationally.

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