Mohit Takalkar is a medium between the writer, the text and the actor

Written by Gaurangi Dang

 

If we cannot handle the economics of theatre then what remains of it is a hobby, albeit a very expensive one. So maybe we don’t need theatre anymore and maybe somewhere we are all responsible for its slow death.

Mohit Takalkar has an ability that very few people seem to have- he can move people, to an extent that may even infuriate them. It’s hard to tell when and where it began, but one can see its trace present in his work. There is a little bit of him in each of them, his moods, his life, his loneliness, his growth and somewhere his genius in being able to channel it all through fragments and texts. If you were to ask Mohit, he’d probably describe himself as a medium between the writer, the text and the actor, not denying his presence but somewhere not acknowledging it enough. If you spend enough time with him, then you could probably see how his art consumes him.

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The Alexander Technique: 2-Day Intensive Workshop with Sarah Barfoot

The Alexander Technique

The Alexander Technique is a mind/body discipline, while achieving a proper understanding of the psychophysical self. As a performer, it brings about a sync of the body i.e. muscles, breathing and posture, in order to have better movement and deliver voice in an optimum manner. It also helps in keeping the muscles relaxed before, during and after a performance, and in the long run, helps keep you injury free and utilise movement and voice while avoiding inflicting stress and harm to both.

 

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We are all responsible for the slow death of theatre: Mohit Takalkar

By Gaurangi Dang

 

If we cannot handle the economics of theatre then what remains of it is a hobby, albeit a very expensive one. So maybe we don’t need theatre anymore and maybe somewhere we are all responsible for its slow death. The approaching death of theatre as we know it was the elephant in the room that nobody was willing to address. Mohit Takalkar sat down with Alok Rajwade at The Drama School, Mumbai on the 19th of August and addressed it.

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Acting Through Voice with Hetal Varia - A 5 Day Intensive Voice Workshop

Voice is an essential aspect of performance, and also regular, daily communication. Voice utilises the body and breath to deliver itself, and it is essential to understand how it all functions and to know how to use it well in order to have a better way to use the voice.

The Drama School Mumbai has a Acting Through Voice Workshop designed and instructed by Hetal Varia, one of the best voice coaches in the country in September, which takes you through all of this and helps you understand and deliver your voice better. This 5 day intensive workshop will help you embrace your voice, understand how the body and breathing come together for the voice, and through exercises, make you use your body and breathing to its optimum for a better way to use your voice.


Public Spaces in India: How performance and art can revitalize them

by Zohra Malik

One of the most distinctive ways that we choose to talk about cities is usually with reference to how how they warp time, how fast or slow they seem to move. It’s not just our imagination, fortunately, because studies show that the reason why cities warp time differently is because of the pace of social life. The pace at which people move around in their city, their rhythm, interaction all of these make up the pace of social life which is how we identify with our city and negotiate with our space. In this context, the central hubs that facilitate this construction of how cities move and breathe generally turn out to be public spaces.

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The Guru-Shishya Parampara with Sunil Shanbag and Sapan Saran

Written by Gaurangi Dang

The fourth instalment of Conversations@theDSM saw theatre thespian Sunil Shanbag, and writer, poet, actress Sapan Saran talk about their initiative Tamaasha Theatre, Sunil Shanbag’s plays, the changing trends in theatre, and the relevance of theatre in today’s world.
Continuing with the Guru-Shishya tradition, Sapan who has grown under the mentorship of Sunil Shanbag interviewed the latter on 8 July at the Purandare Hall in Sahitya Sangh.

I first met Sunil Sir two years ago, in class at The Drama School, Mumbai. He called me his problem child. Since then, not much has changed. I get flabbergasted and tongue-tied around him every time I meet him, and he being the kind man that he is, tries to deal with me as patiently as possible. In all this time I have accumulated a whole list of questions that I want to ask him. That situation was remedied to a great extent on Saturday, 8 July, when Sapan Saran sat down with Sunil sir at the Drama School, Mumbai for an illuminating discussion.

Sapan and Sunil sir have been collaborating over the last few years. Their first project together was the play Club Desire and in 2015, they co-founded the Tamaasha Theatre. In some ways one could say, that Sunil sir is a mentor to Sapan, like Satyadev Dubey was to him.

Let’s rewind a little bit.

The year was 1966. India had already seen three Prime Ministers in January itself, and a young eight-year-old Sunil Shanbag was boarding train by himself to go to Rishi Valley School in Andhra Pradesh. Then one day in class, his teacher mentioned that he’d be directing a play and asked them if anyone of them would like to be in it. This information came as a revelation to a kid trying to blend in. Despite not knowing anything about theatre, Sunil Shanbag’s hand immediately shot up into the air. On show-day there was an accident where the curtain rose while he was taking still his place on stage. It was awkward and they had re-do the bit, but from there on everyone in school knew who he was. “After that I was in every play that my drama teacher directed.”

After school, he returned to Mumbai and began to do theatre in the city. Dina Pathak, whom he had worked with back in school, got him in touch with Satyadev Dubey. “I kept thinking if only I had joined him five years earlier. Dubey had directed Andha Yug. The critics say that was when Dubey was at his peak.” Later, while answering a question from the audience mentioned every play and every period is important. Having said that Shanbag Shanbag was blessed to join Dubey at a time, when he was regrouping. His core group of actors had moved away and begun to do their own work and he was looking for new talent to work with. Before he knew it, Shanbag became an integral part of Dubey’s Theatre Unit, so much so that his parents felt like they had given their son to him. He went from (doing odd jobs, to) acting in his plays, to assisting him till eventually he was allowed to conduct rehearsals by himself. Dubey was an eccentric man. When you worked with him, “his friends became your friends and his enemies your enemies.” Other than noted theatre stalwarts in the city, the NSD was out of bounds for Shanbag because Dubey hated the NSD. And so, Shanbag was stumped when Dubey went on to direct plays there!

Each theatre group back in the day had it’s own core crew, and you were expected to work with only your group. While Shanbag understood that, he also wanted to be able to sit in on other people’s rehearsal and process. He soon realized that while the theatre circuit was filled with great actors, they had very little technical knowledge. So he began designing and operating lights for other groups. This allowed him to move around freely without being constantly chided by Dubey. Eventually, he was thrown out by Dubey and asked to run his own company. In 1985, he set up the theatre company Arpana.

Almost everybody that did theatre back then, also kept a day job. Most people worked in banks, for a banks had reservation for the arts and had fixed timings, so post five you were free to do whatever you wanted. Shanbag on the other had assisted Shyam Benegal and worked as a documentary filmmaker on projects such as Yatra, Surabhi and Bharat Ek Khoj. This was before the privatisation of television. In 1994 he won the National Award for his documentary film Maihar Raag, on the Maihar Gharaana in Madhya Pradesh.

Whether it’s Maihar Raag or Cotton 56, Polyester 84, there is a specific social objective. He says that it has something to do with where he comes from and why he is an artist. You have to know as to “why do you want to do this play?”

There is a lot more, so watch the video, and be there for the next talk with Mohit Takalkar and Alok Rajwade on the 19th August, at The Drama School Mumbai, at 5 pm.

 


Conversations@theDSM: Mohit Takalkar and Aalok Rajwade

 

The August instalment of Conversations@theDSM will be the fifth. So we thought we will step up and do something interesting to mark the occasion. So we got  internationally renowned playwright and director Mohit Takalkar, who will be interviewed by his colleague and friend, a young director and actor, Aalok Rajwade.

Mohit has had an immense experience internationally as well. Not only have Mohit’s productions have gone abroad, but he has also worked on the directorial aspect of international productions with the likes of the legendary Tim Supple. Aalok, on the other hand, has been making heads turn with his out of the box, socially aware Marathi plays. Be it experimenting with format, presentation or content, Aalok has all the feathers in his cap.

Both these Punekars will grace the DSM with their presence on the 19th August, with the talk starting at 5 pm.

 

About Mohit Takalkar

Mohit had his first exposure to theatre at Progressive Dramatic Association (PDA) before setting up his own theatre group Aasakta in Pune in 2003. He has been active in various aspects of theatre for the past eighteen years earning a reputation for the group and him, with his works; widely acclaimed by both the audience and the critics. His plays have toured the length and breadth of India and have also been invited to National and International festivals.

Since his first play, Girish Karnad’s Yayati in 1999, Mohit has directed other notable plays which include ‘Mein Huun Yusuf Aur Ye Hai Mera Bhai’, ‘Uney Purey Shahar Ek’, ‘Gajab Kahani’, ‘Garbo’, ‘Kashmir Kashmir’, and ‘Chotyashya Suttit’. He has directed plays in Marathi, Hindi, Urdu, English, Rajasthani and Kannada.

He was invited at the Lincoln Centre in New York to participate in The Directors Lab and at the Performing Arts meet in Yokohama, Japan. He assisted celebrated director Tim Supple in his version of Midsummer Night’s dream performed all over the World.

He has been awarded the prestigious Homi Bhabha Fellowship, Bismillah Khan Sangeet Natak Award, META, Aditya Vikram Birla Kalakiran Puraskar, Sahitya Rangbhoomi Fellowship, Zee Gaurav Puraskar, Maharashtra State Award etc.

 

About Aalok Rajwade

Aalok Rajwade has played an active and contributive part in the Marathi experimental theatre scenario for the past nine years as an actor as well as a director.

With critically acclaimed plays like ‘Geli 21 Varsha’, ‘Mi…Ghalib’, ‘Natak Nako’ ,’Sivacharitra ahi Ek’, ‘Tichee 17 prakarane’  and ‘Binkamache Samwad’ as his directorial ventures,  he is considered to be an upcoming director with an eye for the aesthetics and a vision to go beyond the obvious. As an actor, he has performed vivid roles in the plays ‘Bed ke neeche renewali’, ‘Dalan’, ‘Ashadhatil ek diwas’ and many more.

In the past, he has got the opportunity to showcase his skills at  prestigious theatre festivals such as ‘META’, ‘Jashn E Bachpan’ and ‘Bharat Ranga Mahotsav’ at ‘NSD’, ‘Summertime Festival’ at Prithvi, ‘Thespo International’ as well as in ‘Universo Theatro Festival’ and ‘Rosobastardo festival’, Italy.

He is a proud holder of the Vinod Doshi Fellowship, Damu Kenkre Puraskar, Nargis Datta puraskar AND Lakshmikant Berde puraskar which has only helped him work on his skills even more.

 

About Conversations@theDSM

Conversations are a tradition in theatre. And so, the DSM brings an entire series of discussions, talks and conversations, curated for the first weekend of every month. Our purpose in these conversations is twofold. First, we celebrate the bond between guru-shishya. Teachers in school, professors in college, coaches at the gym and directors in the rehearsal hall – all mentors have taught you something through conversations. That something makes you the person you are today.

The second purpose in these conversations is to celebrate Rekha Sabnis.

Rekha Sabnis was a one-woman theatre army. She ran theatre group Abhivyakti from her house. She took care of sets, costumes, bookings, transport, tickets as well as acting and directing. Abhivyakti starting performing at the Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh, the same building that houses the DSM today. Rekha Sabnis was a key force behind the DSM-Sahitya Sangh partnership. And this partnership makes our work forging a new generation of theatre-makers, possible.

Rekha passed away in September last year, studying elements of the Natya Shastra till the very last.

Conversations@theDSM started in April. It is our small way of paying tribute to a great spirit who made theatre a little bit better for us all. These conversations form part of an ongoing series of talks between theatre-makers young and old. The entire series has been curated by Yugandhar Deshpande and Anuja Kale of Theatre Across.