Sampling menus can be an interesting way to try new dishes, or even a cuisine you have never tasted before. The third edition of the Contemporary Arts Week, starting in the Capital this weekend, has been designed as a performing arts equivalent of a sampling menu.

“You can’t be friends with someone until you meet them. The same applies to the arts," says Shohini Dutta, director of Friends of Art, the not-for-profit cultural organization which puts together the Contemporary Arts Week every year. “You have to come and meet the arts, see the different genres, before you come to like them," she says.

This year’s line-up has 45 events, including dance, stand-up comedy, theatre, mime, puppetry, music and slam poetry, over eight days, from 3-10 October. The opening weekend, at Nehru Park, will have a mix of performances and workshops. “It will be like a carnival on Saturday and Sunday. Families can come together and do workshops, watch live performances, eat and drink in the F&B section, and do graffiti in the DIY corner," says Dutta.

The workshops will be focused on arts like dance, theatre, pottery, origami and clowning.

Sukhmani Kohli, founder of the Purple Mangoes Facilitators’ Collective, who will hold a 30-minute workshop on clowning, says she has planned games to help participants “find their inner clown". Clowning, she says, is about shedding your mask. “In moments of silliness, a lot of barriers—emotional and intellectual—are dropped," she adds.

Kohli will also stage a theatrical production called Romeo, Juliet And Seven Clowns—a clowning twist on Shakespeare’s tale of tragic love. “Romeo finds his inner clown in the play when he falls in love with Juliet. He loses his clown when he murders Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt. And he finds his clown again at the end of the play," she says Romeo, Juliet… is “masala’d", or spiced up, with live singing of three songs penned by Sufi poet Bulleh Shah, Kohli adds.

Another performance during the week, Under The Poplars, will give audiences a taste of dance theatre and poetry. Deepa Bajaj, a contemporary dancer and poet who conceptualized the piece along with theatreperson Ashish Paliwal, says: “Earlier this year, the embassy of Peru and the Sahitya Kala Akademi released Bengali and Hindi translations of the complete works of Peruvian poet César Vallejo. That was the starting point for Under The Poplars."

Though it gets its name from one of Vallejo’s best known poems, the performance draws on the writer’s complete works and some interviews he gave while in exile, from 1923 till just before his death in 1938.

“It’s an impressionist version of Vallejo’s poetry. He had a keen eye on the human experience, and highlighted the suffering of the powerless. That resonates with us in this country even today," says Bajaj.

Under the Poplars will be held at the Instituto Cervantes on 9-10 October.

“In 55-60 minutes, audiences will get an impression of the artist and his politics, and will hopefully want to go back and read his poetry," says Bajaj.

The Contemporary Arts Week is on from 3-10 October. Timings, venues and ticket prices vary. Tickets, available on in.bookmyshow.com. For the full schedule, visit www.yesfoa.org

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