Deccan Chronicle

Manam Theatre Festival: Celebrating Performance, Culture & Community In Hyderabad

Deccan Chronicle. | DC Correspondent

Published on: November 9, 2023 | Updated on: November 9, 2023

From November 24, 2023 - December 17, 2023

Inspired by a Balinese version of the Ramayana, Katkatha Theatre's About Ram is about as different as it gets - in the best way possible. (Photo by arrangement)

Inspired by a Balinese version of the Ramayana, Katkatha Theatre's About Ram is about as different as it gets - in the best way possible. (Photo by arrangement)

Hyderabad: Elephant In The Room by Durse Brothers (English, Mumbai), Biryani aur Haleem by Sutradhar (Dakhani, Hyderabad), Petromax Panchayat (Telugu, Hyderabad), About Ram by Katkatha (Non Verbal, Delhi), Afghanistan Is Not Funny by Henry Naylor (English, UK), Bali by Adishakti (English, Pondicherry) - are just some of the many incredible performances one can look forward to at the inaugural edition of the month-long ‘Manam Theatre Festival’ in Hyderabad, presented by The We _ Us Collective (an Almond House Foundation initiative).

Spanning across four weekends from November 24,2023 to December 17, 2023, the Manam Theatre Festival hopes to immerse theatre aficionados in Hyderabad in the sheer magic and brilliance of the performing arts, as it brings together the city’s thriving theatre fraternity along with visiting troupes from across the country, and beyond.

From puppetry to live music, from dancing to masking, from Pondicherry to Sikkim, artists from every phase, form and place come together to celebrate the art of performing at multiple venues across the city.

With an impressive line-up comprising four visiting troupes, four local Hyderabad troupes, four venues, eighteen shows across four weekends, the Manam Theatre Festival promises to be a true celebration of the performing arts for diverse audiences.

Expect to be enthralled by critically acclaimed performances of eminent theatre personalities including Vinay Kumar (Artistic director - Adishakti, Ponniyan Selvam fame), Nimmay Raphel (recipient of the Shankar Nag award 2022), Henry Naylor (34 times award-winner from the UK), Yuki Ellias (recipient of best actor at META 2017) among others.  

Apart from the different performances scheduled, the festival line-up also includes a series of fringe events like mini talks, meet and greets, workshops, demonstrations conducted by some of the most celebrated people, making this a true celebration of theatre and all its facets.

The Manam Theatre Festival in Hyderabad presents thought-provoking plays for curious minds and captivating performances for absolute entertainment. The festival brings diverse, inclusive, and unconventional stories home to Hyderabad through contemporary acts, experimental productions, and new interpretations. Hyderabad’s very own ecosystem of art and culture.

Starting November 24th, 2023, the festival brings together bouquets of four weekends of performances, people, and places.

Each weekend will include a performance by a home troupe on Friday and two plays by a visiting troupe on Saturday and Sunday.

Sprinkled around these weekends are fringe events that aim to create conversation and exchange of ideas and engage the city’s community to interact with troupes. By December 17th, 2023, when the curtains come down on the festival, the organisers aim to have immersed thousands of people in the city into the world of theatre. Tickets available at

 ‘The Far Post’ by Durse Brothers’ brings masked puppetry with original music by the well-known Sikkimese band Sofiyum, the first of its kind Lepcha folk fusion band based at Gangtok.

Award-winning puppeteer Anurupa Roy’s latest work – ‘The Nights’ by Katkatha troupe, retells a slew of centuries-old folk tales with a fresh perspective. ‘Rest of the Story’ performed by students of the Department of Theatre, University of Hyderabad, based on Badal Sircar’s 1965 play Baaki Itihaash, connects the life-long commitment of the writer-director to social issues and innovative experimentation in theatre.

Adishakti’s play ‘BHOOMI’, adapted from Sarah Joseph’s Malayalam play, ‘Bhoomirakshasam’ is a musical performance that turns the lens on sexual assault and power politics at the workplace.

KissaGo theatre’s ‘Shakkar Ke Paach Daane’, a Hindi monologue written by Manav Kaul, a renowned theatre playwright, is an interactive play about a simpleton from a small town who reminisces about the complex web of relationships and social barriers he faced in his journey through life.

‘Afghanistan is not funny’ performed by UK’s beloved Henry Naylor, is the extraordinary true story of the British comedian and the Scottish Press Photographer Sam Maynard, in war-torn Afghanistan. Performed by Naylor himself, in front of Maynard’s extraordinary photos, this docu-play takes us back to the start of a modern tragedy.

"It is truly incredible that a few hours before a show, a stage is little but a wooden floor with a metal grid above it. And just like that out of thin air it transforms into so many worlds all at once. And the act of creating worlds so ephemeral makes it theatre. The festival’s aim is to provide environments and occasions where these opportunities become possibilities and possibilities become realities. To present platforms for conversation and discussion on the various ways that art that can be created." Harika Vedula, Founder, The We _ Us Collective, curator and organiser of the Manam Theatre Festival

The WE_US Collective, the social and cultural program of the Almond House Foundation, sets the stage for inspiration, expression, conversation, and change. Theatre plays a big role in changing the narrative of our society; shared experiences foster social and cultural transformations. A collective of artists, creators, performers, and collaborators; an ensemble of theatre professionals celebrating the power of art in Hyderabad.

Almond House Foundation: With over three decades of being the Tastemakers of Hyderabad, Almond House takes great pride in introducing the Almond House Foundation. An initiative to play their part in engaging and empowering the diverse community of Hyderabad. A commitment to amplify social and cultural voices through the initiatives the foundation undertakes.

Manam Chocolate is ushering in a new era in the craft chocolate category in India.  Manam - meaning ‘We’ or ‘Us’ in Telugu, is a heartfelt nod to the brand’s Indian origin.  A collective of passionate craftspeople: farmers, fermenters, chocolate makers, chocolatiers, and storytellers, united to create a truly Indian Craft Chocolate™ experience, each bringing their own expertise to enable the journey of cacao from its origin as a fruit at a farm, to cacao bean to chocolate to a range of confections.

Conceptualised as annual editions, Manam Chocolate expresses chocolate in an immersive retail experience amidst a collection of art, music, and other forms of storytelling. The brand launched earlier this year with its first flagship experiential space - the Manam Chocolate Karkhana, at Banjara Hills, Hyderabad.

"For Almond House and Manam Chocolate, craft and craftspeople have been an inseparable part of our journey and story. It has been an endeavour at Almond House to bring into fold socially relevant and culturally active aspects of being a brand beyond business. This ethos naturally extends to our newest venture – Manam Chocolate. Manam Theatre Festival helps further our desire to interpret brands not merely as commerce but as social enterprises." – Chaitanya Muppala - CEO, Almond House & Founder, Manam Chocolate


WEEKEND 1 (NOV 24-26,2023)


In the play ‘Shakkar Ke Paanch Dane’, the protagonist Rajkumar embarks on an unexpected journey, initially doubting his abilities. However, as he seeks a solution to his predicament, he discovers a newfound desire to express himself, drawing inspiration from the five individuals in his life, including Maa, Uncle Pindaric, Raghu, and the anonymous ’Truckwala Dost.’. This journey reflects the universal struggle to recognize and value one’s own voice and perspectives.

Directed by: Jay Jha
Written by: Manav Kaul
Cast: Jay Jha

Date: Friday, November 24, 2023
Show Timings: 7:30pm
Venue: Rangbhoomi Spaces, Gachibowli, Hyderabad
Language: Hindi
Duration: 75 minutes  
Recommended for: 16+

About Kissago

KissaGo, is an initiative that endeavours to make the "self" meet the 'other self'. The stage is where, we believe, the magic unfolds; a neutral territory where illusion meets reality and vice versa. Here is where the 'story' behind the story is dramatised. We function as a family yet allow the individual to survive without judgement or criticism, a platform where every theatre enthusiast is welcomed with open arms.


Inspired by a Balinese version of the Ramayana, Katkatha Theatre’s About Ram is about as different as it gets - in the best way possible. The musical is a human-centric, tragic love story narrated effortlessly by the Katkatha team. This is an experimental theatrical piece using excerpts from Bhavbhuti's Ramayana and told through animation, digitally projected dance, masks and puppets.

Directed by: Anurupa Roy
Cast: Anurupa Roy, Pawan Waghmare, Mohammad Shameem, Avinash Kumar
Video Animation: Vishal K Dar

Date: Saturday, November 25, 2023
Show Timings: 4.30pm & 8pm
Venue: NIFT Auditorium, Hitech City, Hyderabad
Language: Non-Verbal
Duration: 55 minutes
Recommended for: 6+


Inspired by the meta-narrative of the Middle Eastern folklore collection, Arabian Nights, The Nights by Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust is a Single-Act play, bringing actors and puppets together. Unlike most puppet theatres, this play does not hide the puppeteer. The Nights includes three well-known stories from the collection (Arabian Nights) as well as a new narrative called The Beggar and The King. Besides the four narratives, the play also tells the tale of Scheherazade, the wife of Persian emperor Shehriyar, who must narrate a new story to him every night to survive.

Directed by: Anurupa Roy
Written by: Adithi Rao and Neel Chaudhari
Cast: Anurupa Roy, Kriti Maria Pant, Mohammad Shameem, Avinash Kumar,
Sound design and live voice: Neel Chaudhuri
Light Design: Bharavi
Puppet construction: Mohammad Shameem, Asha, Anurupa Roy
Rehearsal documentation Maneesh Pachiaru, Suhail Parrey

Date: Sunday, November 26, 2023
Show Timings: 4.30pm & 8pm
Venue: NIFT Auditorium, Hitech City, Hyderabad
Language: English/Hindi
Duration: 75 minutes
Recommended for: 14+

About Katkatha (Delhi):

Katkatha is an amalgam of two Hindi words. Kat means wood and is derived from the word Katputli (puppetry), Katha meaning story and together they become puppets and stories. Bits of fabric, styrofoam figures, papier mache sculptures, Shakespearean comedies and Indian epics, the stories from conflict zones, self-help groups run by women, from prisons and the worlds of little children are all a part of their work. For them puppets are not dolls with strings but the theatre of inanimate. Katkatha started as an association of puppeteers in 1998 and was registered as a trust in 2006. Being one of the premier contemporary puppetry troupes of India, Katkatha brings two enthralling plays, based on classic tales. Their inspiring poetic productions use puppets, masks, objects, props with choreography, puppet, animation, actors, and musical compositions to mesmerise audiences.

WEEKEND 2 (DEC 1-3, 2023)


‘Petromax Panchayat’ is a captivating narrative set in a village where life’s complexities go beyond the picturesque fields. This story goes beyond conventional love tales, immersing the audience in a rich tapestry of human emotions and the timeless struggle between right and wrong.

Directed by: Surabhi Santhosh
Written by: Venkat Govada (Based on literary work of Phanishwar Nath Renu)
Cast: Surabhi Lalitha, Anusha Nuthula, Prabha Santhosh, Sai Kadhira, Vishnu Vimal, Shiva Naga Koteshwar Rao, Ajay Radha, Shanku, Mukesh Sai, M. N. S. Manoj, Vishnu Virat, Surabhi Santhosh

Date: Friday, December 1, 2023
Show Timings: 7.30pm
Venue: Rangbhoomi Spaces, Gachibowli, Hyderabad
Language: Telugu
Duration: 60 minutes
Recommended for: 8+

About Curtain Call Theatre (Hyderabad)

Established in 2021 by Surabhi Santhosh, Curtain call Theatre’s motto has always been to "enhance and educate" by providing acting training to all member’s the repertory. Curtain Call Theatre stems from the rich lineage of the renowned Surabhi Theatre of Hyderabad with the vision to be a new-age theatre group committed to Performance and training.


An excerpt from the Indian epic -Ramayana, Adishakti's Bali was written by Nimmy Raphel. Adishakti’s Bali is a retelling of the various events that led up to the battle between Bali and Ram, and eventually, the death of Bali. The play explores the notion of right or wrong and how it may change when each character is given an opportunity to voice their thoughts and opinions. Here, Bali’s death is placed in the centre and a personal take is presented that will enable us to transition seamlessly-back and forth- from the epic to the everyday and vice versa. The play presents powerful moments through alternate and opposing points of views of Bali, Tara, Sugriva, Angadha, Ram and Ravan based on their own ethics and contexts.

Directed by: Nimmy Raphel
Written by: Nimmy Raphel
Cast: Vinay Kumar, Arvind Rane, Ashiqa Salvan, Kiyomi Mehta, Sooraj S

Date: Saturday, December 2, 2023
Show Timings: 4.30pm & 8pm
Venue: NIFT Auditorium, Hitech City, Hyderabad
Language: English
Duration: 75 minutes
Recommended For: PG13


Bhoomi is a loose adaptation of Bhoomirakshasa by well-known Malayalam writer Sara Joseph, written over two decades ago. A play within a play, Bhoomi explores issues of gender identity and violence through music and movement.

Directed by: Vinay Kumar
Written by: Vinay Kumar (adapted from Sara Joseph’s Bhoomirakshasa)
Cast: Nimmy Raphel, Vinay Kumar, Arvind Rane, Ashiqa Salvan, Meedhu Miriyam, Sooraj S

Date: Sunday, December 3, 2023
Show Timings: 4.30pm & 8pm
Venue: NIFT Auditorium, Hitech City, Hyderabad
Language: English
Duration: 80 minutes
Recommended For: PG13

About Adishakti (Puducherry)

Adishakti Laboratory for Theatre Arts & Research is a performance company based out of Pondicherry, India, engaged in the research and reanimation of traditional and folk knowledge in theatre, dance, music, movement, and craft forms. Started in 1981 by late theatre director Veenapani Chawla, Adishakti has aimed at re-establishing the validity of theatre around the notion of the live presence of the performer and worked towards widening the scope of theatre.

The aim is to equip the performer with tools whereby she can impact her audience through an enhanced and vibrating energy both physically and psychologically. Adishakti has been disseminating this alternative performance language through its Source of Performance Energy (SOPE) workshops, and performances based on Indian epics in India and abroad.

WEEKEND 3 (DEC 8-10, 2023)


The play pays homage to Badal Sircar’s enduring dedication to social issues and ground-breaking theatrical experimentation. It underscores the interconnectedness of individual lives with history and the wider world, emphasising individual responsibility for their surroundings. To align with this ethos, the troupe made deliberate alterations to Sircar’s original script, toning down existentialist elements and offering a unique interpretation of the narrative.

Directed by: Rajiv Velicheti
Playwright: Badal Sircar
Hindi Translation: Nemichandra Jain
Cast: Unscripted characters:
Anjana Shahjahan, Arun Kumar Singh, Nitish Kumar, Raniya Zulaikha, Vikash Kumar, Satyam Dubey, Shamim Akhtar Sheikh. Characters from the Script: Sharad- Shreyas Gupta, Vasanti- Shreyosree Sarker, Kanak (Act 1)- Janki Tuddu, Pooja Yadav, Nikhil- Sai Krishna Chithari, Biswajit Kalita, Sitanath (Act 1) - Shivam Kumar, Swapnil Singh, Agantuk- Sachin Rawal, Vishal Thakur, Boodha- Geetesh Ujjainwal, Kanak (act 2)- Mansi Bansal, Niharika Choulda, Vijay- Md. Ahsan Habib, Sitanath (Act 2)- Jishnu Kili, Vighnesh Jayakrishnan

Date: Friday, December 8, 2023
Show Timings: 7:30pm
Venue: Rangbhoomi Spaces, Gachibowli, Hyderabad
Language: Multilingual
Duration: 75 minutes
Recommended For: 13+


University of Hyderabad, a Central University established by an Act of Parliament (1974), is a Unitary University situated at Hyderabad. The UoH’s vision, planning and processes embody the core values of National Needs–Global Standards, Innovation, Public Engagement and Social Impact. The Theatre Arts Discipline of S.N. School strongly believes that creating good theatre is an arduous activity and there is no simple formula to achieve it. As an academic discipline within a University system, Theatre Arts concentrates on giving training in seminal concepts, basic principles and practices of drama and theatre to create a successful theatre in society, where live interaction can lead to new terrains of experience and intellect.


Soon after 9/11, researching a comedy project, multi award-winning playwright Henry Naylor and photographer Sam Maynard landed in the Afghan War Zone. What followed was extraordinary: threatened by a war criminal, captured by the Mujhadeen, and targeted by Al-Qaeda. Now, as the Taliban return, Naylor asks what has been lost in the ruins of Kabul.    

Directed by: Henry Naylor
Written by: Henry Naylor
Performed by: Henry Naylor

Date: Friday, December 8, 2023
Show Timings: 7pm
Venue: Heartcup Coffee, Gandipet, Hyderabad
Language: English
Duration: 75 minutes
Recommended For: 16+

Date: Sunday, December 10, 2023
Show Timings: 7pm
Venue: (TBC), Hyderabad
Language: English
Duration: 75 minutes
Recommended For: 16+

About Henry Naylor

Henry Naylor is a multi-award-winning UK playwright, who has been described as ‘one of our best new playwrights’ in The Times, The Evening Standard, and as ‘one of the finest British writers on contemporary events,’ in Theatre Extra. His plays have won, and/or been nominated for 33 international awards, including one of France’s most prestigious awards for the arts, the Globes De Cristal in 2016.

He is one of the only handful of writers to have won the Fringe First three times and has won four of the top five Fringe awards at the Edinburgh Fringe, including the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award.

Three of his plays have had month-long runs off-Broadway, and in 2017 alone there were over 300 public performances of his work, over five continents. His work has been translated into eight languages.

WEEKEND 4 (DEC 15-17, 2023)


In a world where food plays a central role, two beggars, Salim and Javed, embark on a comical journey to survive. They share their stories and methods as they seek charity, but their path takes a hilarious turn when they intercept a special Biryani meant for a Nawab, altering its destination to satisfy their own hunger. The play explores the humorous intricacies of their escapade and the universal theme of survival through food.

Directed by: Deepti Girotra
Story: An adaptation of ‘The Pie & The Tart’ by Hugh Chesterman
Cast: Ahmed Quraishi, Sattya Bhagat Reddy, Rahim Amir Ali Lalani, Deepti Girotra

Date: Friday, December 15, 2023
Show Timings: 7:30pm
Venue: Rangbhoomi Spaces, Gachibowli, Hyderabad
Language: Dakhani
Duration: 60 minutes
Recommended For: 6+

About Sutradhar

Sutradhar, as it stands today - a Theatre Group, a Casting House and a Voice and Acting School all rolled into one – is an umbrella of numerous initiatives. Formally launched in 1996 with its Casting wing, we have seen many milestones. Sutradhar is driven by the motivation of making sure that deserving talents are rightly recognized, nurtured and manifested.

Having created a strong database of talented artists and counting, Sutradhar has become a hub of Actors, Voice Artistes, Scriptwriters, Translators, Directorial Crew, Technical Crew and many other portfolios. These associations have allowed Sutradhar to venture into production.


Two enemy soldiers, killed in battle, embark on a journey into the afterlife with the help of an endearing Postman Aunty and her pet Goldfish. Set in a cold, mountainous landscape, where a border cuts through no man's land, the Postman Aunty operates out of a makeshift post office that serves mail to both sides of the conflict. As the soldiers navigate the trials and tests of the afterlife, letters from the war unfold, scars begin to heal, and peace feels close like a spring morning. Filled with elements of mask work, contemporary dance, and puppetry, 'The Final Journey' will transport you to a magical realm. The music, created by the Sikkimese band Sofiyum, blends Lepcha folk and contemporary sounds to create a distinct and captivating world in the snowy mountains.

Directed by: Yuki Ellias
Written by: Yuki Ellias
Co-produced by: G5A, BNP Paribas and Durse Brothers
Cast: Yuki Ellias, Tapas Boro
Crew: Sumaiya Merchant, Mati Rajput, Asmit Pathare, Priyanka Babbar, Phalguni Vittal Rao
Musicians: Ongyal Tshering Lepcha, Rathap Lepcha, Noel John Karthak, Pintsok Dechin Lepcha, Mickma Tshering Lepcha

Date: Saturday, December 16, 2023
Show Timings: 4.30pm & 8pm
Venue: MCRHRD, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad
Language: Non-Verbal
Duration: 60 minutes
Recommended For: 12+


Master Tusk is a young boy, who has been given a new head - an elephant's head. Confused and bewildered, he finds himself lost in the forest. Danger lurks at every turn. He encounters a motley couple - Makadi (spider) and Moork (poacher), a clumsy duo in search of a big-ticket ransom. They kidnap Master Tusk, but their scheme goes awry when a prophecy is revealed and changes everything. Amidst a cursed love affair, an encounter with an eccentric old elephant and a hunt for a missing head, Master Tusk sets off on an adventure that changes his life. But will he be able to carry his head on his shoulders? Inspired by the world of Indian mythology, Elephant in the Room plays homage to the beloved God, Lord Ganapati, in this quirky and poignant reinterpretation of his story.

Directed by: Yuki Ellias
Story by: Yuki Ellias
Written by: Sneh Sapru
Cast: Yuki Ellias
Lighting Design: Asmit Pathare

Date: Sunday, December 17, 2023
Show Timings: 4.30pm & 8pm
Venue: MCRHRD, Jubilee Hills, Hyderabad
Language: English
Duration: 60 minutes
Recommended For: 12+

About Durse Brothers

Yuki Ellias is an actor, director, and business coach. As an actress, she has performed in the US, Canada, Australia, Italy and India. She played Hermia in the highly acclaimed production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Tim Supple at the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford Upon Avon and the Roundhouse London.

She was the Movement Director for UK’s leading opera company Opera North on their production of Mozart’s Magic Flute. Her theatre company Dur Se Brothers has produced four shows including the multi-award-winning play Elephant in the Room which has toured internationally including a run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2017.

As a corporate coach she uses theatre art techniques for high impact communication initiatives for global business leaders and teams across several industries. Yuki has trained at the Jacques Lecoq School for theatre in Paris and is a certified pedagogue from the London International school of Performing Arts.

Latest News
Most Popular