Performance@theDSM: Mumbai: The City United

‘Mumbai: The City United’ is a play that highlights the glocal spirit of the city – local as well as global. It throws light on the multicultural and multilingual features of the city and all its difficulties. Concept, visualisation, performance and direction by Akshay Shimpi and Dhanashree Khandkar.

Date: 27th January 2018

Time: 7pm

Venue: 5th Floor, Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh, Kelewadi, Girgaon, Charni Road (East)

Tickets: Rs. 150

Mail: info@thedramaschoolmumbai.in

Call: +91 9619336336

You can also book your tickets on BookMyShow!


The Drama School Mumbai Gets A New Logo!

Dear Family,

As the Drama School Mumbai grows into its own – and stands free from its parent, Theatre Professionals, it was time to remove the TPPL presence from its logo and identity.

While we started with a simple crop, and went on many journeys near and far – we finally came to this place, where we can celebrate the school as we know it, the DSM – and those letters can stand proud and in their own right.

In this logo, are the TPPL company colours, a sense of the Sahitya Sangh, a homage to the old logo, the three letters that for a lot of us, say it all.

I hope you grow to love it as much as you did the one under which you took your journey.

Thank you Shaizia Jifri for bringing the DSM’s new identity to life.

Yours truly,

The Drama School Mumbai


“With Age Comes Wisdom And Compassion!” - An Interview With Anamika Haksar

The Drama School Mumbai interviewed Anamika Haksar, theatre director and drama pedagogue on why she loves playing two different roles. She also shared her views on training and practice young people need to become terrific performers. Read more to get your set of advice…


Image sourced from Pandolin.

Anamika and I have scheduled an interview at her apartment in Mumbai but I am secretly scared. Upon reaching there, my eyes are wandering all over her living room. They rest upon the piles of old books kept everywhere. She makes me comfortable by offering me tea and thus we begin our conversation.

Anamika is 58-years-old. She studied at the National School of Drama, Delhi (NSD) and later went to study at the State Institute of Theatrical Arts, Moscow (USSR). She specialized in Direction and received the ‘Diploma of Excellence in Theatre Direction’. Anamika is the recipient of Sanskriti award for contribution to new theatre language in 1995. She has directed over 35 plays and one feature length film, acted in 15 major plays and taught at some of the most prestigious performing arts institutes in India.

Roshan: You’ve been a director and a teacher. How would you find an intersection between the two? How do you define who you are?

Anamika: I think I am a creator. I simply create. Defining yourself is a tough job, isn’t it? Very often, I’ve let others define me by my work. I like directing and my work is a little offbeat and experimental. I don’t depart from the norm, my work takes that discourse naturally. 

I’ve been privileged to work with B.V Karanth, an eminent theatre and film artist. I imbibed a lot of values and the process of thinking differently whilst working with him. I was also privileged to go to Moscow to train myself for six years from 1982 to 1988. Moscow was a highly cultured city at that time and there was a great sense of consciousness among the audience. 

My desire to question the norms repeatedly and create a body of work around it is strengthened by them. I wouldn’t like to call myself anything but what my work resonates. Luckily, it has been able to stand out as a new expression of theatre language. My work in theatre is mostly based on movements, poetry, and visual imagery within the text. It has redefined, for me, realism from a very stereotypical perspective. That’s how everyone started calling me experimental. Particularly, at this point, I feel calling someone’s work experimental also means dismissing their efforts. It means that they are doing something that everyone finds hard to understand and accept.

So that’s Anamika Haksar for you. An experimental theatre-maker. I’ve worked my whole life with theatre and it is only now that I have begun making films because I want to say something that theatre cannot say.

As a teacher, I’ve tried to break the centralist relationship between a teacher and students. I’ve always aimed to make my students learn and understand theory as a part of their experience, through processing their performance and their body. I try to liberate my students just like the way I felt liberated in Moscow. 

R: Do you have any memories of childhood or early adulthood that you think have helped in becoming who you are today?

A: I had wonderful and understanding parents who told me I was free to pursue my dreams. My family didn’t have a  background in theatre. My mother was a teacher, my father was a diplomat and my sister is a human rights lawyer.

“One thing that my parents imbibed in me was the utmost respect for ordinary people.”

Despite the fact that I was born with certain privileges, I can proudly say that I can crossover anywhere. I don’t believe in class or status. I’ve been to villages, smaller towns and I can be comfortable with everyone. I have always had respect for people with different backgrounds. My sister always fought against the state machinery so we had a lot people visiting us from Burma, Nagaland and Iraq.

That’s also why I think, today, I can speak to younger kids in their idioms and not just their language. They understand me. I tell my students to study who they are and where they come from to have a thorough understanding of their backgrounds and bringing it up in art and work. Whether they are from a village or a city, a Dalit or a Brahmin.

Face your background, cross it and enrich your work with all that you’ve gone through in your life.

I help my students to come to a conflict to realise the dynamics of their belonging and contribute creatively to their art. The other thing is, when I was 16, I met Badal Sarkar and we worked together for four years. We were a big group  with stars like Anil Mehta and Sudhir Mishra amongst others. Most of them have now transitioned successfully into the film industry. We worked a lot on our body, trusting ourselves and others with exercises. After working with Sarkar, I joined the National School of Drama. Joining NSD worked a lot in my favour.

With B.V Karanth, we used to travel extensively. We have been all over Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh. We used to go to all the villages and watch traditional performances, especially folk art. At that time, I didn’t know the importance of travelling and watching traditional art. Today, I understand that all of it has contributed to my work and has had profound impact on my life. My work has been moulded by contemporary aesthetic values but I’ve always found an echo of traditional art in it.

If you see my play Antar Yatra that questions stereotypes around identity of women or Uchakka, an adaptation of Marathi novelist Laxman Gaikwad’s autobiography, you will come to know how I’ve blended traditional art and performance with contemporary thoughts. The plays travelled all over Maharashtra. From performing shows in Pune and Nanded to studying mill workers and pickpockets in Mumbai. We wanted to reach different kinds of people. We wanted to break prejudices with certain kinds of text.

A production by Anamika Haksar

R: You’ve had intensive training for a decade. How would you narrate the experience and importance of training to a performer?

Training helps you with self-awareness. It also helps you understand what tools you need to express yourself better. Training has to be very compassionate and considerate and to an extent that helps you open up closed doors. Also not to forget, one needs to be careful in the name of training. A trainer shouldn’t impose just one way of looking at things but open a multiple ways of looking at life, looking at theatre and looking at oneself. That’s how students start understanding the vast world of theatre.

“Training has to be very compassionate and considerate.”

My job as a teacher is to open their body, mind, gestures and postures. My job is to also translate the theory that they learn into gestures and expressions so that it becomes an experience for them. Training the mind is very important to me but after keeping in mind the region where the person is coming from. It has to be done both ways, gently and strictly in order to open up a person’s potential.

Another kind of training is through seeing. That is called training through the eyes. Maharashtra has witnessed many years of traditional theatre. In the last 200 years, they’ve had impetus on contemporary theatre. There was a time when the mill workers would watch two shows a day where the eyes are being trained in the best traditional ways. I am also very grateful for the training I have received. I traveled a lot and learned to respect folk artists. I have seen some folk performances in Karnataka that were staged for the whole night; with physical challenges and competitions. I have a very strong memory of that and I carry it wherever I go.

Finally, what I also learnt from Moscow was the importance of careful analysis and discussion between students and teachers to improve the performance. We were also studying paintings, music and art forms. All of it helped us develop a sense of perception and understanding of the world. Training in Moscow made me realise the capacity of my body and space with respect to performance which is quite different from the English theatre where the impetus is only on the speech. I really value the teaching methods I was exposed to in USSR. 

A production by Anamika Haksar

R: Do you agree that age and experience play a major role in becoming a better artist?

A: I don’t necessarily feel that age and experience go hand in hand. Although, with age comes compassion and wisdom. You understand how to talk to younger people. You understand that you cannot be brash or arrogant. You cannot pull them down or even use too refined a vocabulary they may not grasp.

There are a lot of things that age may give you but not everyone embraces it. I’ve met people who haven’t learned anything from their journey. These people can be very imposing, conservative and rigid. I’ve personally received a lot of push back from my contemporaries and directors elder to me but I’ve never let it affect me. So I am neither for or against age being an indicator for excellence. Growing old and not willing to learn can make you fossilized, egoistic and conservative.

A production by Anamika Haksar

R: Drama with movement, body and text has been your forte. You’ve specialised on this front creating multiple productions. Does it hold a special place for you?

A: I began directing plays using movement, body and text. At Moscow, we were made to do acting for the first four years of our training. So as a learner, I’ve nurtured values from dancing and acting. I am very grateful for that. Training in Moscow helped me hone my art.

“I am completely mesmerised by the coordination of body, movement and text. For me, it is a holistic form of  theatre.”

Photographs clearly don’t give you an idea of movement and space but you can see how I’ve always used them in my productions. I’ve worked in many regions where movement and body expressed a language. I’ve tried to ignite my actors in the right space.

Training your body is supremely important. I’ve trained myself for years on movement and body. Theatre-makers in India have to have total expression. These practices need to be inculcated in contemporary theatre scene. It’s a very strong body of visual metaphor.


R: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced in three decades of your experience with theatre?

I think in the beginning when I started directing and teaching, acceptance among people I worked with was difficult.  I was young and working with international actors, Russians to be precise. I have received a lot of love and warmth from my actors. Sometimes my actors had to face the wrath of hatred from others whilst working with me.

A lot of people couldn’t find the intersection between dance and theatre in my performances, so naturally a lot of times, they would walk out midway. When these people walked out, there were also others who sat and enjoyed my shows until the end. When I started directing plays, it was the first time that metaphors, visual movement, dance and theatre were coming together in India. Some people called it bizarre to my face but I was always lucky to work with a team of young people who were loving and understanding.

I realize that young people are always receptive. Except the first time I was teaching. I left the class after a few minutes. It was quite humiliating for them to accept someone of their age as their teacher and for me to hear them taunt about age difference. I was trying to break grounds. I wept for a couple of months and later, it didn’t matter. I just went on and on. There was so much acceptance and exuberance from people I was working with.

Many assured me that I was really not doing anything wrong. Slowly, the audience that would leave started staying back and recognising experimental theatre. When I did Antar Yatra, a Tamil epic, we devised a huge space. The critics at that time wrote highly about it. Archana Shastri and I designed it very carefully but it wasn’t celebrated the way it should have been. I was a little disappointed. We had released our fixed deposits and invested in the performance. So there were these times but I have to say that it’s completely your choice. You can push yourself and keep working on the criticisms or you can go back to your comfort shell. I am very grateful to my country. Without any self-propagation, I’ve earned a lot of respect. Just at Kochi-Muziris Biennale, we had about 6,000 to 10,000 people watching my creation.

The journey has been tough but rewarding too. At times I felt that I should have received more recognition than I have. For example, Sangeet Natak Akademi celebrated their golden anniversary and didn’t invite me. It’s painful but I also know my worth. A lot of worthy people are marginalized by politics, so essentially it’s a choice you make. Ultimately, I want my work to be truthful and artistic. It should evoke feelings that are felt deep inside the heart and soul. It is hard but it is also beautiful. I’ve also received warmth and love from a lot of places I’ve travelled to. To be honest, in the end, it is your work that speaks and transpires into the love you receive.

A production by Anamika Haksar

Q. A lot of your work has revolved around social issues and injustice. What motivated this commitment to such issues?

A: To be honest, I really cannot pin it down! Antar Yatra was a poetic journey about women. If you look at Raj Darpan, it is about the censorship act forced by the Britishers on Indians. We showcased the multi-perspective vision of Indian art. It wasn’t about the troubles or issues of an individual but about the country.

Dalit poetry and literature have a special place in my heart. It has metaphors for the modern world. It has always drawn me close. Hard-hitting contemporary stories attract me. I would never try to do a love story. Not because I don’t believe in it but it doesn’t draw my attention.

Some of my feminist friends asked me why was I using Namdeo Dhasal’s text. He mistreated his wife. I told them that I wanted to juxtapose his actions with the sufferings of his wife. The pull of the contemporary life is important. I really feel the urge to talk about issues that matter or cause an emotional stir. Even for my film, we documented what it meant to live in old Delhi. I have an old rishta with old Delhi. It has life in its most intense form. How could I not try to portray that?

The essence of theatre is to pull you out of your existence.

Also, my sister’s influence whilst taking up cases against the army rule in Kashmir and Manipur affected me. She is a very political person. But I don’t belong to any political party. I may belong to a certain mold of thinking. I work on anything that challenges stereotypes. I have a compelling urge to express joys and sorrows, both rare and every day. I have an urge to communicate them. 

A production by Anamika Haksar

Q. You’ve been training young actors and theatre-makers at the Drama School Mumbai. What are the most effective tools that a young story-teller can use?

A: I’ve always asked students to pick up elements and characters from their neighbourhood and be proud of their history. Otherwise, they start closing up. Usually for people from a lower economic background, there are complexes and conflicts that need to be resolved. Begin your art from your differences. Don’t be scared to show that you are a son of a farmer or you milk cows at home. That’s my first rule while teaching.

Secondly, what’s important is imagination. I try myriad things to open up my students. We work on photographs, paintings, proverbs and musical pieces. Those exercises are to open up your imagination in such a way that you are really feeling what your performing.

Third thing is being playful. Having fun with each other and being able to receive and give is also important. Then there has to be some sort of training for the body. Any training that gives your body an aadhar or anchor is must. Do whatever is conducive to your own regional climate. Be it yoga, chhau or any other dance form. It can bring your rhythm across. That’s it.

Invest a lot of thought and work on Indian culture, be it paintings, music or art and then move to western art. Sometimes exercises can be psycho-physical. Elements of performance are always to be explored by playful exercises. It opens up sensory perception like taste, sound, vision and feel. Training is a lifelong process. The more you invest in it, the better your performances get.

This interview was conducted, written and edited by Roshan Kokane. With inputs from Ramu Ramnathan, Lyra Niharika Dutt and Ragini Khushwaha.


Thespo & The Drama School Mumbai: Natyakala Workshop 2018

 

Like last year, Thespo and the Drama School Mumbai have continued to work together on an exciting series of workshops for young people in theatre. Natyakala 2018 is running across 9 cities this year,

Natyakala 2018 will be in 6 cities reaching Delhi and Jaipur in the north and Nagpur and Baroda in the west.

Natyakala workshops focus on developing foundation acting skills. Participants are introduced to basic concepts in improvisation and devising, understanding use of space, working with an ensemble and understanding oneself as performer.

Our next Natyakala workshops go live in March 2018. Date and city are as follows:

4th March – Pune

For more details, including venues and timings, please keep a lookout on DSM Facebook page and website. If you are in any of these cities on the dates mentioned and would like to register for the workshops, please register by calling or sending a WhatsApp on 09619336336.


Acting through Text and Body - Foundation Skills in Acting with Kallirroi Tziafeta

Foundation Skills in Acting workshop in January at the Drama School Mumbai with Kallirroi Tziafeta.

About the Instructor: Kallirroi Tziafeta

University of Athens l London International School of Performing Arts

Kallirroi is a trained theatre actor. She has a BA in Theatre Studies from the University of Athens. She has also specialised in Acting in a three year programme at the Contemporary Theatre of Athens Drama School. After having moved to Mumbai in 2010, she has continued to perform internationally with shows in Greece, the UK and in India. Kallirroi has also trained at the prestigious London International School of Performing Arts, specialising in physical theatre.

 

Workshop Takeaways

  • Understanding the basic principles of acting through text and the body
  • Exploring presence and the effect of relaxation/tension to performance
  • Understanding different approaches to working with text, using multiple disciplines to explore text work
  • Physical and mental preparation (warm up) and a physical approach to acting and scene work

 

Dates: 8th to 12th January 2018

Time: 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm

Venue: Fifth Floor, Purandare Hall, Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh, Girgaon, Charni Road East, Mumbai

Fees: 6000/-

To Apply :

Send an email to info@thedramaschoolmumbai.in

Call/WhatsApp us: +91 9619336336


Madhyantar - A mid-year showcase by DSM students


Batch of 2017-18 of the Post-Graduate Diploma in Acting and Theatre-making present their creations from first semester.

Every year, the students of the Drama School Mumbai put up a mid-year showcase of the best theatre pieces they have worked on thus far. The students of the batch of 2017-18 are all geared up to perform nine pieces of theatre which include an experiential piece, a devised performance, a short presentation on Chhau (a traditional martial art form) among many others. We look forward to seeing as many of you at the event. Do come by and support the young talent.

Date: 22nd December, 2017

Time: 7pm

Venue: Fifth Floor, Purandare Hall, Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh, Kelewadi, Charni Road (East), Mumbai 400004

Open and free to all. Just be on time, don’t be late.

For reservations, call or WhatsApp on 09619336336.

You can also find more details on the Facebook event page.

https://www.facebook.com/events/284751595380384/


“You have to prove your talent over and over again!” An interview with Premanand Gajvi

Premanad Gajvi
Premanad Gajvi

Premanand Gajvi (1947-present) is a Marathi playwright, writer and poet. He is well-known for his social commitment to effectively shape the disorganized truth of the society. His one-act play ‘Ghotbhar Paani’ has been translated into fourteen languages and another play ‘Kirwant’ has been translated into other Indian languages. His writings have been included in the school curriculum too.

On account of World Marathi Theatre Day, The Drama School Mumbai’s Neelam Sakpal interviewed Premanand Gajvi to share his experiences with theatre, art and performance.

Neelam: On account of World Marathi Theatre Day, what would you say about the present condition of Marathi theatre?

Premanand: Drama is a very serious medium of art. The purpose of theatre is primarily to awaken masses. When you talk about the traditional Marathi drama, you tend to remember or start conversations with Vishnudas Bhave. In fact, we need to remember that even before Vishnudas Bhave, there was Marathi theatre scene happening in Karnataka.

We don’t take theatre or drama seriously. Drama is a good medium to understand the social and cultural dimensions of those times. We first need to stop considering theatre as a compact way of entertainment. Secondly, it is necessary to acknowledge and recognise dramatists who take their art seriously. Which new questions and problems have arisen in this age? Who are the ones critiquing these problems?

We complete one year of demonetisation. Has any recent playwright considered showcasing the problems common man has faced due to it? In the name of the professional theatre, we tend to ignore the pressing issues of the society. Are there any plays produced on the current political and social situation of the country? From the time when Amol Palekar or Vijay Tendulkar wrote plays, there has been very little progress in experimental theatre. That’s why experimental theatre kept merging with professional theatre. This doesn’t mean that our society doesn’t have people who introspect anymore. It simply means that no one is willing to explore. That’s the scene with the theatre industry today. We have stopped taking risks and writing about real issues.

N: Playwrights nowadays only bother about festivals and awards function. That’s the time when they are seen coming together. They do not have any interest or appreciation for each other’s work. What is your observation on this matter?

P: Yes, people have now taken to celebrating festivals pompously. We have to celebrate ‘every day’ of our life. If we do not have any festivals to celebrate, we simply celebrate Mother’s Day or Father’s Day with great fun. That’s where the drama industry is also focusing on.

What is the biggest festival for theatre artists? It is the state-level competition also known as Rajya Natya Spardha. This means December is the festival of glory because they mostly get organised in December. This competition doesn’t just receive new entries each year from larger production companies but also from smaller production groups. Some of the older productions are revived especially for such festivals.

The problem is that if the competition entails a prize, many groups will come forward to perform. That will indirectly increase the bookings of the shows. The audience has also begun appreciating only those plays that have famous star cast or the plays that have won awards. That means, a good play, according to the audience is not one that stimulates your mind but the one that wins your heart. Suppose a large drama production house earns enough money from a piece of art, then they shouldn’t have any problem to produce a new play next time. But there is no one fighting to do this. Festivals and competitions see a mix of new and old plays. The prize is also reserved for plays that have been performed earlier. What do they achieve by awarding and promoting someone who doesn’t really need any promotion? When will fresh talent stand a chance to be awarded or promoted? Ignorantly, we tend to appreciate old and experienced people and their art. On one hand, we live in modern times of gadgets but the plays we demand to see are old.

This means our heart still lingers in the history somewhere, right? Do we want to carry that history forward? I honestly believe that the question which we need to constantly talk about is whether art for art or art for life? This question is ignored in this celebratory mentality. We now see people just chasing awards and recognition. People used to seriously try to present their art differently but they are not seen doing that anymore. Instead of presenting art to people, it seems that everyone is trying to push themselves into the crowd. We can conclude that artists are not thinking about theatre anymore, they are merely looking for personal benefits.

N: Today, if writers or actors present the current socio-political scenario of the state honestly, people barge into halls to destroy the sets or inflict harm and shut the production. Some have even threatened to burn the theatres down. This means parallel censorship is on a rise. How should new artists tackle this?

P: Don’t try to think that parallel censorship is a new phenomenon. It has always existed and was equally active during Vijay Tendulkar’s time. Tendulkar had to be confronted with the sensation of censorship in his two plays – Sakharam Baindar and Ghashiram Kotwal. Well, you have people who are courageously going through all these incidents. But ultimately, fear of life remains an important aspect of these incidents. If someone comes, blackens your face, the fear of inviting harm further always stays. And it is very sad to say that there exists a group in the society that has created such fear. This is a sign that we still do not have ideological proficiency. The people who protest or oppose the play don’t really consider the central subject or message of the play. They do not even try to see the subtle work of art in it. I see this as a quick way of gaining popularity. The group that vandalises the plays always have a leader. The leader has his own agenda. They want to grab some eyeballs and that’s why they do this. Another reason could be that they don’t want the common people to introspect or question the situation at stake. This means that they want people to blindly believe in them and not use theatre or art to raise questions about injustice or wrongdoings. They don’t consider the fact that by listening to other side of the story, there might be new observations surfacing in the society. Observations like people from the history, socio-political scenarios from the past etc.

This may also mean that the playwright has an added responsibility that he shouldn’t ignore. The playwright must always ensure that his story contains elements of truth in them. If the playwright wants to put forward the truth about the society, they must also take into consideration the reaction from their audience and the risks they might put themselves in. The writer must always be proud of his story and should fearlessly communicate why he chose to explore the truth. An author or a writer must be prepared to stand against any catastrophe.

N: Suppose a writer is at the risk of being hurt and another writer does not run to help him. The writers do not have a pressure group yet. They do not have a union. Why this incompetence in spite of writers being creative?

P: This is a cultural question and this question is very old. You have a word for it, ‘cultural warfare’. Some playwrights are well established and safe and some playwrights are as they were. Because there’s monopoly of a particular group in performing arts as well. Therefore, every playwright will be able to run and help another playwright is not always possible. We have limited work for organisations that host authors. Their picture is not very optimistic. You can generally hear that some cinemas earn 100 crores or 200 crores. But then, do such organizations work for the growth of their authors? Is there any proposal of this type for the government?

The theatre bodies are just for namesake. Smaller organisations run competitions for authors and bigger theatre bodies do participate. That’s not ideal. Also, how well do we use social media for the promotion of theatre? We don’t. There are no programs or functions other than celebrating the anniversary of the organization. Do such organizations make sure that the money they pay to their playwrights is utilised wisely? How continuous are they in their methodology? Are there some new hurdles to find out how their writing improves? All these questions are unanswered. So when you think about the whole of the Marathi theatre, it does not amount to much.

N: Should a writer always have a neutral perspective while writing plays?

P: I do not think any writer can have a neutral perspective on any situation or while writing a play. But if someone attempts to do that, then we have to bring changes in our society. The need to eradicate corruption and casteism is urgent. This will have to be dealt with from its roots and we will have to bring change in our lifestyles. A human being’s perception is formed right after the birth. Some of our opinions are made up after observing the world around us. The author picks his subjects or topics from these daily situations. Before writing, the author accumulates questions, thoughts, emotions and lots of feelings. His perception and thought-process are formed that way. And suppose someone wants to write something that was not part of their life, for example, if I want to write about tribal life, and I am completely secluded from it, then the tribal life must be thoroughly understood by me before writing. To read books on it, to take thoughts and opinions of different people in it, all this should be the part of the study. When I understand this tribal life to be 70-80 percent, then I will get 40-50 percent of it in my writing. So it seems strange to write without an experience. You have to feel something to write it.

N: Shouldn’t the government help in improving the situation of artists?

P:  Definitely yes, the government has certain grants that they can use in arts and performing arts. If it uses these grants in a right manner, there are chances to improve the situation of artists. But the basic problem is that our government does not want to do anything beyond the state-level-competition and festival. If they can do something at a much larger level than that, they should do so. Instead of spending money on awards, the selection committee must provide fellowships to the writers. They should motivate the writers to write beyond the ordinary. Basically, the government should also know about the art. That’s when they can execute different activities. And not everything has to be done by the government. We should also take some responsibility. We speak too broadly and judge everyone. It has to work very differently.

N: You’ve also started The Bodhi Theatre. Will it take up a different journey in theatre?

It is the same fun. What is more appropriate? Art for art or life for art? You can argue on that. But let me go a step further and say that ‘art is for knowledge’. That is the third dimension. Now, this is not my own analysis. If Buddha had done something in the past so that he attained eternal knowledge. What he did was search for an answer. This is the principle on which ‘Bodhi’ theatre organization works. They search for the right playwright.

‘Bodhi’ has done story-writing and drama workshops throughout Maharashtra. About 250 to 300 people were selected to come on board. Those who wrote, we compiled a book with them – ‘Art for Knowledge’. We added 6-7 plays in it.

The selected playwrights are not special members of ‘Bodhi’. We do not propagate their ideology. What we do is motivate them to write plays for Bodhi Drama workshops. During the workshop, we read their play and discuss it at length. This exercise helps them with feedback to develop their script further. Later we turn those scripts into plays for different festivals. Some of the plays produced by the festival are also turned into books. It means that the process of writing should continue. There should be no stop. And the work that your former playwright has done, is expected to move forward. These young selected playwrights are experimenting with subjects that we never dared to touch. We are also helping these young playwrights carve their own path. There is a need to create a separate path. But we can’t keep hoping all the time. We have to prove our talent over and over again.

Thanks to Akshay Shimpi, student convenor at The Drama School for arranging this interview. This interview has been translated from Marathi by Roshan Kokane. You can read the original interview here!


Performance@theDSM: Dozakh (A Marathi Play)

Dozakh
Dozakh: A still from the play  l Sourced from the internet

Dozakh, a Marathi play directed by Abhijeet Zunjarrao talks about one of the most sensitive issues in the Indian political scenario. The play sheds light on how religious extremists use religion as an excuse to harm other human beings, especially women. It takes the audience on a journey of self-exploration where caste, religion, human rights, equality and crime are the central subjects.

The narrative of the play, revolving around two young girls speaks loudly of how religious propaganda accounts for ruthless killing of many around the world. It also puts to stage all the stereotype, hate crime and pressures faced by all women. The script pans through scenes where poetry is used to evoke emotions and show the plight of female survivors of war. Two hours of an intense portrayal of all the atrocities done against women makes the play a poignant watch. Come to the DSM and watch this brilliant analysis of religion and human character.

About Abhijeet Zunjarrao
Abhijeet Zunjarrao is a theatre and film actor, director and writer. He has directed several plays in the Marathi theatre circuit and also runs a production group Abhinay, Kalyan. 

Written by: Irfan Mujawar

Directed by: Abhijeet Zunjarrao

Date and Time: 16th December, 7pm

Venue: 5th Floor, The Drama School Mumbai, Girgaon, Mumbai – 400 004

Tickets: Rs. 250/-

Available on BookMyShow!

 


Performance@theDSM: Karl Marx in Kalbadevi


Creative sourced from the internet

We at the DSM intend to close the year with one of the most iconic and revolutionary men in history revisiting his chronicles. Revolutionary socialist, philosopher, economist and journalist, Karl Marx, comes to the DSM after a short halt in Kalbadevi. Yes, you heard it right! How and why has he come to Mumbai? What does he have to say? All questions will be answered by the man himself! Catch Karl Marx in Kalbadevi on 23rd December, 7pm at the DSM.

About Karl Marx in Kalbadevi

Karl Marx has made a comeback! The reason is clear. He feels that he has been misunderstood for several years and it’s time he gave us answers. It has come to his knowledge that socialism and communism, two words fathered by him, have become dirty words in the present!

He is damn upset about it and wants to clarify before the whole world, or a part of it starts the celebration of his 200th birth anniversary! Thanks to some quirky reasons, he has landed in India, in Mumbai, in Kalbadevi! He is waiting endlessly for a chance to speak his mind.

At last, he gets this chance; through a comic mix up! Come to the DSM and watch Karl Marx talking about his family, friends, Das Kapital and the boil on his ass as well as the enormous thali he had at Bhagat Tarachand!

DirectorManoj Shah

CastSatchit Puranik

Date and time: 23rd December 2017, 7 PM

Venue: 5th Floor, The Drama School Mumbai, Girgaon, Mumbai – 400 004

Tickets: Rs. 250/-

Available on BookMyShow!


Protests Through Theatre: Conversations@theDSM with Rasika Agashe

Rasika Agashe's picture
Rasika Agashe  l  Source: Facebook

Since graduating as an actor from the National School of Drama (NSD), Delhi, Rasika’s ambition has only been to consistently better herself. She firmly believes that art can speak volumes if the subject interests public and thus, she went on to give birth to Being Association, a theatre group which mainly does protest theatre.

Interviewing her at DSM on the Saturday of 11th November was her long-time colleague Dr. Sumedh. He is a doctor who specialises in research on female foeticide and women’s safety. He also writes plays as a hobby.

The conversation started with Rasika and Dr. Sumedh talking about what they do and how they got affiliated to theatre. Rasika joked about starting to like theatre when she was three-years-old. She said, “I grew up in Pune. As a member of a middle-class Marathi family, theatre was an important aspect of entertainment while growing up. When I was in college, I participated in a lot of theatre festivals and competitions. Purushottam Karandak was supposed to be the most reputed inter-college competition. That is how it all began.”

When Dr Sumedh asked how her experience at NSD helped her grow as a thespian, Rasika answered, “I did not realise the importance of NSD because it all happened very easily for me. I got admission when I applied for the first time, so I was not aware of how difficult or competitive it is. When the course started, the professors kept throwing at us references to various plays and characters written throughout history. To understand what was being taught, I needed to be well-read. In the first six months of my time there, I read about 150 plays. Along with that, the exposure to a whole variety of folk and western theatre, practices and understanding the differences in all of these styles made me a whole lot better.”

In the first six months of my time there, I read about 150 plays.

Dr. Sumedh then requested Rasika to speak a bit about her theatre group ‘Being Association’. Rasika was quite excited to talk about it. “I was getting to do a lot of different characters at the time when I started acting, but I still felt that somewhere I wasn’t getting to say what I wanted to say.  Theatre always tells you when you need to say something. I realised that forming theatre group would form my opinions and perception of the world.”

Being Association’s first play was Museum of Species. Dr Sumedh asked Rasika what propelled her to produce that? Rasika said, “Around the same time when I was establishing a separate theatre group, Nirbhaya rape incident took place in Delhi. That enraged me. At that time and even till date, violence, harassment and acts of atrocities against women in India were happening. I needed to use my skills to send out a strong message and play my part in putting an end to violence against women.”

She continued telling the audience that she gathered a bunch of her female friends who are involved in various art forms. “I had identified a couple of older texts along with the story of Draupadi, and wanted to create something around monologues from these characters. It started with a conversation about how we had all had heard of crimes against women around us. The conversation then steered to self-experiences. It was intense. You (Dr Sumedh) used to come to observe and help us write the play, and have been experiencing women’s anger and rage while recounting those incidents. But we got past that quickly and the play started taking shape. It eventually became a collection of 12 monologues starting from Draupadi to a regular woman from today’s times and their struggles. ”

Rasika also spoke about using theatre as a medium for societal change. She believes that as a responsible citizen and as someone who has been gifted a skill, she needs to continuously assess what’s wrong in the society and start conversations around it. She also added that from centuries theatre has been a medium to protest, make people aware, and discuss the social issues. “That is why we at Being Association have decided that we will use other sources of income, but the theatre group will strictly remain together to speak up against the wrong,” Rasika concluded.

We will upload the uncut video of Rasika Agashe’s interview here!

All the Conversations@theDSM are recorded and uploaded to our YouTube channel, The Drama School Mumbai. Watch the older Conversations@theDSM here: http://bit.ly/2AOE8P4