The First edition of The International Theatre Festival of Kerala (ITFoK), held from 22nd to 31stDecember 2008, focused on Asian theatre. Opening with a spectacular show of Chinese opera, the festival featured a National and Malayalam panorama and plays from SAARC countries. It turned out to be a highly enriching experience with not just performances, but also seminars, interactive sessions and exhibitions. Theatre activists across the country descended on Thrissur in droves. The temporary auditorium in which the evening shows were held was inundated by theatre lovers of all hues. Not only the venue of festival, but the entire city of Thrissur wore a festive look for plays from China, Iran, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal along with other plays from the country that were part of the maiden edition of the event.
The 2ndedition of ITFoK, held from 20th to 29thDecember, 2009 wasinaugurated by the well-known theatre and film actor Naseeruddin Shah and had Afro-Asian theatre as the focus. Conceived on the same lines as the previous edition, it provided a rare opportunity to showcase the Afro-Asian cultural diversity.There was increased participation and attendance of theatre lovers from neighbouring statessuch asTamilnadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra in this edition, which proved that the popularity of the festival was soaring tremendously even outside Kerala. The International panorama featured plays from South Africa, Kenya and Pakistan and several outstanding plays of contemporary Indian directors were also showcased in the event.
The 3rdInternational Theatre Festival of Kerala, held from 22nd to 31stDecember 2010, captured the imagination of theatre lovers from India and abroad and marked itself as one of the most prominent theatre festivals of Southeast Asia. ITFoK, being a long cherished dream of theatre activists of Kerala, blossomed into a vibrant annual event under the Ministry of Culture, and Kerala Sangeetha NatakaAkademi. Inaugurated by Padmabhushan Girish Karnad on 22nd December, the festival explored the wide and diversified horizon of World theatre with a special focus on theatre from Latin American countries. Contemporary works from Chile, Brazil, Columbia,Bolivia, Mexico, Cuba, Spain, Japan and England ignited the imagination and teased the sensibilities of the diverse theatre audience. ITFoK 2010 hosted 35 productions, 750 artists and several hundred academicians/observers. The festival witnessed a spectatorship of approximately 60,000. Two commissioned productions, one with Latin American artistes and other one between the School of Drama, Thrissur and Casa de la India - Spain were the special events of the festival. AmmannurPuraskaram, an award introduced by KSNA, for lifetime achievement in Indian Theatre was conferred on the legendary Indian theatre person, Badal Sircar.
The 4thInternational Theatre Festival of Kerala which was held from1st to 8th February 2012 was inaugurated by four senior artists PadmabhusahanKalamadalamRamankutty Nair, M.V. Devan, Parassala B Ponnammal and ThrippekkulamAchuthaMararThis editionhad a diverse selection of plays with a special focus on masters of the past and present. Contemporary work from Poland, Italy,Llithuania, England, and some cutting edge productions from India were featured in this edition. ITFoK2010 hosted 16 productions, 250 artists and several hundred academicians/observers.
The 5thITFoK focused on contemporary theatre from Europe and innovative and experimental works from India. This edition showcased works that re-examined classical texts as well as new, devised performances and plays that explored the genres of physical,musical and dance theatre. A cross section of contemporary Indian theatre was included to represent the varied streams of theatre happening in different parts of the country. Solo performances had also a prominent place in this edition.
The 6thedition of ITFoK, held from 27th January to 3rd February 2014, focused on “Transition” with performances from around the world including France, Poland, Italy, Norway, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Iran, and Sri Lanka. Also, in response to the heinous rapes and atrocities against women, children, transsexuals and homosexuals in India and elsewhere, this edition had a section on productions dealing with the issue of "gender".
The 7th edition of ITFoK with the theme “Theatre of Resistance, Theatre of Today”, held from 10thto 17th January 2015, presented plays from Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Japan, Singapore, Denmark and Germany. This edition showcased 13 International plays, 5 National plays and 7 Regional plays along with Radio drama presentations and other traditional performances.
ITFoK 2016 focused on “Body, Politics, The Body Politics”. The festival opened on 10thJanuary with the legendary choreographer Chandralekha's last creation ‘Sharira (the body)’ and concluded on 16th January with Mallika Taneja's award winning ‘ThodaDhyaanSe (be careful)’. This edition had 21 plays and 34 shows overall. The festival explored the multiple interpretations of body, politics, and body politics and featured performances from Malaysia, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Algeria among others. There were other allied events like a musical crossover, traditional arts, painting exhibition, drama film screenings and live radio drama presentations which were highly appreciated by the public.
The 9th edition of ITFoK, held from 20thto 28thFebruary 2017 was designed and executed in a grandiose manner. This edition focused on ‘Street Performance’ with interventions in public spaces by which the entire city became a venue of the festival. The event was packed with 30 plays with 50 shows apart from the other allied performances. There were two collaborative productions, Colloquium, Seminars, Theatre workshops and Open forums. The important feature of this editionwas to bring back the ‘AmmannurPuraskaram’ instituted by the KSNA in 2010 to honour an eminent theatre personality from India. The 2nd‘AmmannurPuraskaram’ was presented to Smt. SabitriHeisnam, an Indian stage actor of repute, also a recipient of the SangeetNatakAkademi Award (1991) and the Padma Shri (2008). for her contributions to Manipuri theatre. The festival was inaugurated by Sri. A K Balan, Hon. Cultural Minister, Government of Kerala and the Chief Guest was Mr. Shiv Visvanathan, an eminent social scientist and public intellectual.