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Why tale of snake-charmers snatching baby girl gets new feminist slant in Bethnal Green

PUBLISHED: 12:00 19 November 2019 | UPDATED: 17:13 19 November 2019

Bengal festival opening at Rich Mix arts venue. Picture: Ahmed Kaysher

Bengal festival opening at Rich Mix arts venue. Picture: Ahmed Kaysher

Ahmed Kaysher

A baby girl stolen by snake-charmers is an old Bengali fairy tale that has been reinterpreted at Rich Mix with modern feminist arguments about abuse.

Ancient ballad of the Bengali opera Mohuar Pala narrated in English. Picture: Ahmed KaysherAncient ballad of the Bengali opera Mohuar Pala narrated in English. Picture: Ahmed Kaysher

Reinterpreting the ancient ballad of the Mohuar Pala narrated in English opens for two days on Saturday (November 23) at the Bethnal Green venue.

It poses the question why a girl is snatched rather than a boy, suggesting women are "an easy option" to be abused and used as a commodity.

The popular ancient folk fable is the story of two snake-charming brothers stealing the baby during a famine which grows up to become an entertainer and keeps earning money for her abductors.

It is one of 16 Bangla festival season plays and poetry readings both in Bengali and English and workshops aimed at attracting Western audiences as well as promoting new works by the British Asian diaspora reinterpreting ancient stories and fairy tales.

"Narration in English helps us connect to non-Asian audiences," director Ahmed Kyasher said. "It was a real challenge when we planned our first production to introduce this new art form in the West."

Mohuar Pala features singer-dancer Jessy Barua, actor Sonia Sultana, Tagore singer Imtiaz Ahmed and folk dancer Sohel Ahmed, in the production co-directed by Vidushi Chandra Chakraborty, the "torch bearer" of Hindustani classical music in the West.

Tickets for this Saturday 7.30pm performance and Sunday at 3.30pm at Richmix in Bethnal Green Road are available online:


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