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      Volume 11 |Issue 46| November 23, 2012 |


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An Enchanting Tale from the Sundarbans

John Farndon


Bonbibi is the female spirit of the Sundarbans, Bangladesh's great mangrove forest. This delightful show (presented on November 6 at Richmix, in London, 2012, from Culturepot Global), directed by Filiz Ozcan mixes puppetry, silhouettes, dance and traditional Bengali singing, and tells the story of how Bonbibi restores harmony in the forest after the demon tiger goes on the rampage when man's greed threatens the Sundarbans' well-being.

It is, of course, both a simple folkloric tale and a metaphor for the harm mankind is doing to the natural world – and in particular the dangers of global warming which poses a particular threat to low-lying Bangladesh and its swampy Sundarbans. 'Bonbibi' is a show in development, and is still rough around the edges, but it is already very beguiling and thought-provoking. Alongside the stage, a trio of musicians – Daniel MoNski on percussion, Tom Morton on guitar and Sohini Alam on vocals – weave enchanting musical patterns to knit the story together. She sings the lyrics of Leesa Gazi who also wrote the wonderful script.



On stage, the backdrop is the beautiful shadow forest and puppets created by Caitlin Abbott, which carries the mythical element of the story, while in the foreground two actors and two dancers tell the story of a young man and young woman who enter the forest and encounter the demon tiger. The demon tiger, constructed from paper and cane by puppet designer Randy Ginsburg, is a stunning creation with headlight eyes moved by two actors with the same power as the National's Warhorse, while Aanon Siddiqua and Hannah Johnson's creation of the forest trees in traditional dance is both clever and enchanting. The aims of this show are highly laudable, and the original blend of puppetry, dance and traditional music captivating.

The writer is an internationally known author, playwright, composer and songwriter.

Culturepot Global brings together emerging and established artists in music, dance, theatre, literature, spoken word, film and photography. Its mission is to provide a platform for the organic process of collaboration - within and across these art-forms. Founded and spearheaded by Runi Khan, the driving team are Bangladeshi Londoners who all have a long tack-record in the arts - having produced and performed in the world's top stages to small indie venues. Its productions often contain a distinct Bangladeshi flavour – drawing from old and new traditions – but collaborations are with artists from around the world– from South America, Africa, Europe through to the Indian sub-continent.

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