Over the last four years, our organization SPOTLIGHT COLUMBUS INC has successfully organized the South Asian Theater Festival and hosted a series of theatrical performances and panel discussions focused on bringing out the important role that performing arts play in sculpting our society. As such, the themes of our festivals have been "Celebrating Womanhood" in 2015, "Shifting Social Justice" in 2016 and “Facets of Social Challenges” in 2017 and "Live, Love and Laugh" in 2018. As such, the South Asian Theater Festival has become a vibrant addition to the cultural landscape of greater Columbus. The itinerary for all four years (2015- 2018) has included plays in both South Asian native languages (with English supertitles) and English. We have involved local theater personalities to both teach and act in these plays and also received extensive hands-on guidance from Epic Theater Workshop which has successfully organized similar festivals over the last 12 years in the New York and tristate area. Along with the plays, we have also organized a panel discussion each year based on the theme. The panel discussions have been highly appreciated by many. We have included eminent theater personalities like Hafiz Karmali (Internationally renowned director from Paris), Monirah Hashemi, (playwright of Sitarah: The Stars) , Leif Persson (Eminent Director), Mahesh Dattani (Indian Playwright), Dr Elizabeth Wellman (Lecturer, OSU Theater Dept), Andrew Protopapas (Artist Educator, Contemporary American Theatre Company, Columbus), Jessie Glover (Otterbein University), Usha Ganguli (Internationally Renowned Theater Personality), Dipan Ray (Founding Member of Epic Actor Workshop), Chris Leyva (Renowned Playwright) and Debshankar Halder (actor-director from India). For the last three years, we have also collaborated with Contemporary American Theatre Company, Columbus (CATCO) and Joe Bishara (Associate Producing Director, CATCO) would be joining us both as a director as well as an expert panelist in this year’s festival (2019).
In 2019 and beyond, we plan to organize a two-day event with five performances and a panel discussion. The event name will be South Asian Theater Festival (SATF) Columbus. After the success of SATF Columbus 2015-2018 which were one-day festivals, on popular demand from our audience we are extending this festival to a two-day affair from this year onwards. For the next two years, our festival will be staged on 9th-10th August 2019 and 9th-10th August 2020 at Shedd Theater, Columbus Performing Arts Center (549 Franklin Ave, Columbus, OH 43215). There will be a central theme “Breaking the Glass Ceiling" for the festival this year and all performances will be selected that speak to that theme (See attached Synopsis in Supporting Materials). The South Asian Community has very limited choices for quality theater performed in South Asian Languages on socially relevant topics. We will be able to give our constituents the art of theater that generates social awareness while providing a venue for the community to meet and engage each other. We are dedicated and committed to high-quality performance through artistic excellence. This is possible due to the strong commitment from all participants to long rehearsal/workshop hours over three months. We engage reputed directors from local professional and university theater departments as well as directors of international repute. This year, we expand our reach by organizing several theater workshops in collaboration with the theater department of local universities to peak the interest of the future talent pool of the community. The grant will go a long way in helping us achieve this goal. Professional advice and guidance from established theatre groups, actors and directors will help us further improve our planning and execution process. We believe the grant will help us enhance the artistic quality of our program as we will be able to hire more local professional directors and crew to achieve our goal.