Mandalas “The Story of Ram” celebrates Diwali on October 9th outdoors in Naper Settlement

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In celebration of the Indian holiday of Diwali, Mandala South Asian Performing Arts presents “The Story of Ram,” a family-friendly, immersive outdoor performance on Saturday October 9th. The performances will take place at 11:00 am, 2:00 pm and 5:00 pm at the historic Naper settlement, 523 S. Webster St. in Naperville.

“The Story of Ram” is Mandala’s interpretation of the ancient epic Ramayana, a classic, cross-cultural narrative that creates a multi-dimensional play that combines contemporary culture and mythology. Artists share pieces of the rich tradition steeped in the epic, including dance, music, and puppetry. The story of Ram, his wife Sita and his brother Lakshman, exiled in the forest, permeates the arts across South and Southeast Asia – in contradiction to the brilliant King Ravana – and interweaves cultures from India, Indonesia, Thailand and more.

In its sixth year, Mandala’s “The Story of Ram” is taking place outdoors for the first time in the historic Naper Settlement to provide a completely immersive experience, with viewers interacting with the characters and moving around the environment.

Performers – depicting people and animals – include Mandalas Professional Ensemble, Gingarte Capoeira, Indonesian Dance of Illinois, Somapa Thai Dance Company from Washington DC, Thai Music @ Chicago, Chicago Kalakshetra (with ritual drumming from the Indian state of Kerala), and Die award-winning artists I Gusti Pak Ngurah Kertayuda, Laksha Dantran and as the monkey king Hanuman Ashwaty Chennat, Mandalas deputy artistic director.

Additionally, the Indian Government and Indian Consulate in Chicago are working with Mandala to welcome the Chitrakari Group and their leather art puppet show, which represents the 11th generation of this folk art form (tholubommalata).

“The Naper Settlement is a historic site that represents the history of Naperville, Illinois, United States, and The Story of Ram is a tradition that immigrated to the United States with immigrants from India,” said Pranita Nayar, mandala founder and executive artistic director. “So there are two cultural traditions that merge: the cultural artifact that existed and practiced traditions that were brought here with new waves of people.”

“We modeled the production after Shakespeare in the Parks and other mobile outdoor theaters. Our exciting challenge was to integrate intercultural and non-verbal performing arts into this structure, ”said Chennat.

Mandala’s annual holiday tradition, “The Story of Ram”, began as a collaboration between cultural workers – Pranita Nayar and I Gusti Pak Ngurah Kertayuda – as they explored the common mythology in their respective dance traditions: Bharatanatyam and Balinese dance. Their deliberations grew into a complete dance theater production for children and a diverse audience, celebrating the beauty of the cultural perspectives in the Chicago area.

Tickets are $ 25 for general admission at 11am and 2pm; Tickets for the 5:00 p.m. fundraiser are $ 100.

Tickets and information are available at mandalaarts.org/the-story-of-ram/.

All programming is subject to change.

The Mandala South Asian Performing Arts connects audiences and students with the vibrancy, taste and colors of the performing arts of South Asia and offers powerful engagement with unique and experienced dancers, musicians, storytellers, artists and educators whose origins date back to the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean, from Persia to Indonesia. Mandalas Ensemble dancers and musicians, teaching artists and artistic staff and mediation partners bring folk and classical traditions as well as current and hybrid innovations to life. Mandala promotes cultural awareness and exchange through entertainment and education.

“The Story of Ram” is supported by the City of Naperville Special Events & Cultural Facilities Program, the DuPage County Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council Agency, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

More information is available at mandalaarts.org.

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