Aadyant 2017 - Not the end, but the beginning

 

Aadyant is the annual showcase of the DSM’s graduating batch, where the students conceptualise 15 minute performances, write them, direct them, act in them. The conceptualising student has to helm an important responsibility in that performance, that is the condition. Everyone else can then take over other responsibilities related to the performance.

This year, we had five performances, written by Adarsh Gourav, Shruti Sunder, Khushbu Baid, Chrisann Pereira and Komal Khanna.

Aadyant was held on the 10th June and a repeat, second show on the 11th June. Both days, much to the delight of the students, the place was jampacked.

Up first was Shruti Sunder’s piece, The Skeleton Woman, performed by Komal Khanna, Vidyut V and Abhishek Chauhan. The magic realism like theme of it, with a presentation done beautifully, made it a delight. It flowed and took the audience to places. Dealing with the concept of death and coming back to life, the piece kept the audience waiting for more.

Next was Komal Khanna’s Finding Meera, performed by Shruti Sunder, Vidyut V and Deepmala Khera. The mystery thriller about Meera being nowhere to be found, and her roommate (Shruti Sunder) approaching a private detective (Vidyut V) to find her ends in a way one would not expect. The mystery held the audience in their seats and the revelation had their jaws drop.

Then came Khushbu Baid’s State v/s Thapa, a funny take on the judiciary of our country through the case of a Nepali security guard who has killed what is said to be a ghost. The satire was brilliantly portrayed by all the actors, Abhishek Chauhan, Adarsh Gourav, Deepmala Khera and Khushbu Baid. Abhishek and Khushbu played multiple characters and nailed it. The piece left the audience laughing and clapping for the most part. It was also a good relief for the audience after watching two intense pieces prior to this.

Chrisann Pereira’s The Platform was the fourth performance that evening. Four performers, Abhishek Chauhan, Khushbu Baid, Shruti Sunder and Komal Khanna were confined in a space of 8ft x 4ft, and they performed a movement oriented piece about oppression. The four performers portrayed various kinds of oppression, from the oppression of thought to the oppression of action. 

The last performance was Aadarsh Gourav’s Ayyo Raju. Performed solo by VIdyut V, the piece was about an old man, who is left alone at home with the family’s pet dog, Raju, while his family have gone on a vacation. The man, at first, is not too caring about the dog, but after his son promises him a Tata Sky connection on return as a thank you for taking care of Raju. This comes when Raju has escaped his leash and ran away. The rest of the performance is about how he manages to leash the dog again.

Aadyant’s raging success as an event this year has made everyone at the DSM very proud. With the 2016-2017 batch now graduated, the school is ready for the next batch which will start their course in July. And Aadyant will return with the new batch, next year.

 


The Curious Case of a Farmer/Writer

At the third instalment of the lecture series, the conversation revolved around the celebrated play Shivaji Underground in Bhimnagar Mohalla. The playwright, Rajkumar Tangde, was interviewed by the lead actor of the play, Kailash Waghmare. Both Rajkumar and Kailash, apart from being colleagues, are also great friends and mentor each other throughout their artistic endeavours.

Historical figures have often been used by political parties to their own end. In the state politics of Maharashtra, Shivaji is one such figure. The play, Shivaji Underground in Bhimnagar Mohalla, provides an alternative and a humane history to the founder of the Maratha empire in the 17th century. The play exposes the political parties who have literally “kidnapped” what Shivaji stood for. It brings back the importance of debate, the need to revisit history and search for answers and rebukes political propaganda. The play is of particular importance today, almost five years after its inception, due to the increasing influence of a majoritarian political party while suppressing minorities in the Indian scenario.

The interview itself was a great mix of fun and serious topics. It started off with a question from Kailash Waghmare about how Rajkumar Tangde could write something like a Shivaji Underground in Bhimnagar Mohalla, a play commenting on societal issues, on one hand and how he has also written a romantic novel on the other. Rajkumar responded with the fact that as a writer and a human being different things affect him at different times and writing is an extension and expression of himself. Hence, Malyavarcha Phool, the novel came about.

Waghmare then moved to asking how writing fit and where it came from in Rajkumar’s life which was filled with handling a farm, roaming around on bullocks, and just being about in the rural life. Waghmare even added that a poem here and there, or even a novel would have been understandable, but how does a play fit in this whole scenario.

Rajkumar said that as he grew up, he realised the true problems while living that life. Those problems needed an outlet, an expression, and a search for a solution. As he read more and more, and experienced more and more, he realised that expressing these concerns are not only important for himself, but also to let the world know what he wants to say. That’s how writing came into the picture. And somehow it was always a play that he wrote. The novel happened much later.

Rajkumar also told how two of their other plays, Kaay Dila Swatantryane and Aaakda, had done decently well. But they were not expecting Shivaji to do this well, either. But it happened, and it was great. He said, “Sambhaji (his brother) and I were planning to do something around Shivaji Maharaj. And that’s when through pure coincidence, Kailash came to me with Shahir Sambhaji Bhagat’s concept. It took a year and a half for us to finish the script. The 13 actors used to leave everything, all their jobs and come for rehearsals in 10-day batches every month or two. It is that sacrifice, which even today they do for the play, is what will sustain this play in the future.”

“After Nandu Madhav came onboard as the director, and we were done setting the play up, we needed a producer. We performed in front of about 4-5 different producers but none of them were ready. They were unhappy about not having a celebrity face, the topic being too controversial, or it just not being a good play in their view. Nandu sir helped us not lose hope and we somehow managed to find a stable producer in Rangmala eventually,” informed Rajkumar.

When they wanted to advertise the first show, the newspaper wasn’t ready to publish the advert due to the controversial nature of the title. So they had to add a line in the add, ‘Naav vachun dachku naka, Naatak bagha, Sobat ya!’, which means ‘Don’t be shocked by the name of the play, watch the play, and join us.

One of the most interesting things Rajkumar Tangde said was that an artist should not forget that he/she is a human first. And that the slogan ‘show must go on’, as cool as it sounds, should not be followed to the tee. That was a lesson for all the thespians to remember, just like the lesson in history that the play intends the audience to remember.


Conversations@theDSM: Sunil Shanbag and Sapan Saran

Image Courtesy: thehindu.com

 

Fourth instalment of Conversations@theDSM brings to you theatre maverick Sunil Shanbag, and writer, poet, actress Sapan Saran, who will 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 will be interviewing the latter.

 

About Sunil Shanbag

Sunil Shanbag is a theatre director and producer based in Mumbai. He started his theatre work with Satyadev Dubey in 1974 and worked with him for ten years as an actor, designer, and director before he founded the Arpana theatre company in 1985 with a group of his theatre colleagues. Arpana remains an active theatre company till date and has several notable productions to its credit including Ramu Ramnathan’s Cotton 56, Polyester 84, Sex, Morality, Censorship written by Shanta Gokhale and Irawati Karnik, Stories in a Song made in collaboration with Shubha Mudgal and Aneesh Pradhan, Club Desire written by Sapan Saran, and more recently, Loretta written by Goan writer Pundalik Naik.

In 2015 he co-founded Tamaasha Theatre with Sapan Saran to broaden their definition of theatre, seed the city with intimate, alternative art venues, and work with younger theatre practitioners. Sunil has been actively involved in theatre training, and documentation projects which include the book Scenes We Made, edited by Shanta Gokhale, which traces the history of experimental theatre in Mumbai from the late 1950s to about 2000. He is also part of the core team of SMART, India’s only strategic management programme for theatre, which has worked with about 30 theatre companies from across India over three years. In addition, Sunil has been an independent documentary filmmaker, been involved as a writer and researcher for large scale television projects such as Bharat Ek Khoj and Surabhi, and community history projects such as museums and oral history archives.

 

About the interviewer: Sapan Saran

Sapan Saran is a poet, writer, and an actor based in Mumbai. She is a founding member of the theatre company, ‘Tamaasha’, which aims to explore new theatre ideas in alternative spaces.

Her association with theatre began with a collaboration with dancer Astad Deboo. She has written Club Desire, and Classics Redux, which have been directed by veteran theatre director Sunil Shanbag, with whom she also co-directed the play Marriage-ology. Her first play, Club Desire, a Theatre Arpana and National Centre for the Performing Arts (India) production, was selected for National School of Drama’s International Theatre Festival, Bharat Rang Mahotsav 2015. The Churchgate Couple, a short 10-minute piece from Marriage-ology, written by her, garnered appreciation by critics and audiences alike. She conceived the critically acclaimed production, ‘Blank Page’ in 2015. Her most recent play is ‘Waiting For Naseer’, a quirky, philosophical comedy, that she has written and directed.

She performs regularly as a theatre actor, has modelled in several advertisements, and acted in films. Her poems have been published in several magazines, including the Sahitya Akademi’s Samkaleen Bhartiya Sahitya. Recently, the hindi magazine, Samved, came out with a supplementary book that contained 50 of her poems.

 

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 TheatreAcross.

 

Date: 8th July 2017

Time: 5 pm

Venue: The Drama School Mumbai, 5th floor, Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh, Kele Wadi, Girgaon, Charni Road East, Mumbai 400004.


Conversations@theDSM: Rajkumar Tangde and Kailash Waghmare

At the third instalment of the lecture series, the conversation will revolve around the celebrated play Shivaji Underground in Bhimnagar Mohalla. The playwright, Rajkumar Tangde, will be interviewed by the lead actor of the play, Kailash Waghmare. Both Rajkumar and Kailash, apart from being colleagues, are also great friends and mentor each other throughout their artistic endeavours.

Historical figures have often been used by political parties to their own end. In the state politics of Maharashtra, Shivaji is one such figure. The play, Shivaji Underground in Bhimnagar Mohalla, provides an alternative and a humane history to the founder of the Maratha empire in the 17th century. The play exposes the political parties who have literally “kidnapped” what Shivaji stood for. It brings back the importance of debate, the need to revisit history and search for answers and rebukes political propaganda. The play is of particular importance today, almost five years after its inception, due to the increasing influence of a majoritarian political party while suppressing minorities in the Indian scenario.

About Rajkumar Tangde
Rajkumar Tangde is a Marathi playwright who has to his credit plays like the critically acclaimed Shivaji Underground in Bhimnagar Mohalla, Kaay Dila Swatantryane, Aakda among others. He has also written plays like Tisra Paaul and Swargarohun.

About the interviewer: Kailash Waghmare
Kailash Waghmare did his Master in Theatre Arts from Mumbai University. He has acted in plays like Shivaji Underground in Bhimnagar Mohalla directed by Nandu Madhav and English play Lorett by Sunil Shanbag. He has also starred in multiple films and short films including Manatlya Unhat, Mor Dekhne Jungle Main, Tukaram, Mhadu, Half Ticket, Bhikari, Dry Day, Maajhi Shaala and many others.

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.

 

Date: 17th June 2017

Time: 5:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Venue: The Drama School Mumbai, Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh, Mumbai, India 400004


The "Paraya" who became a playwright

Conversation @theDSM: Shafaat Khan with Akshay Shimpi

by Gaurangi Dang

 

Gaurangi Dang is an alumnus of The Drama School Mumbai. She has been working with Ramu Ramanathan since she graduated from the DSM. He was the one who told her about the talk. After the talk, Gaurangi annoyed him with questions. The next day he said that DSM wanted a write up about the talk and if Gaurangi would be interested in doing it or should he ask Akshay Shimpi instead. Gaurangi said that he should ask Akshay sir, for she didn’t have any notes.

Three hours later, Gaurangi sent him whatever she remembered. Here it is.

 

 

Shafaat Khan spoke to a handful of theatre students and theatrewallahs at the legendary Purandare Hall of the Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh on 13 May 2017. It started when he was a little boy. His father had a government job that required them to constantly be moving across Maharashtra. Young Shafaat Khan would create a new identity for himself, each time they moved and he’d continue to be this person until he was caught in “a lie”.

Sometimes things would get awkward, especially in the history class.

Shafaat Khan said, “History is taught in a specific way in our country. There are very few Muslim heroes in our books. When little children learn about the battle between the fearless Shivaji and Afzal Khan in class, they all want to be Shivaji.”

The children in Shafaat Khan’s school were no exception. Since there were already so many Shivajis, the responsibility of being Afzal Khan would land on the tiny shoulders of Shafaat Khan regardless of whether or not he wanted to play the part. The original battle ended with Shivaji beating Afzal Khan, but this history chapter continued during the recess breaks.

By the time he was six, the family had moved to Gokarna. Their neighbours – their home was directly opposite his – had hosted a Yakshagaan performance in their aangan one evening. This colourful, loud and noisy spectacle formed his first impressions of the magic of theatre.

Later from another terrace, he’d see lines of people going towards the temple near his house on a regular basis. These people would be clutching a chicken by its feet and singing jovial ditties. On their way back, they’d still be holding the chicken by its feet and singing, but the head was chopped off and so the blood would drip down and cover the entire pathway.

In all this lay “drama”.

The Khans lived in a government housing with sprawling compounds. Back in those days, theatre troupes would travel from village to village, performing Ram-Leela. Sometimes the troupes would perform in their house, near the water-tank and often Shafaat Khan would watched the play from his vantage position in the home. After their scene was enacted, the actors would return backstage, lift up their saree or dhoti, sit on the floor and light a beedi and sip their chai. To someone who had just seen them on stage, these people were gods and they looked like gods, but there they were sitting at an arm’s distance from him smoking their beedi. The actors made up like divinity with bows and arrows in hand, squatting on the ground and behaving so mundanely – can do to the mind of a child, who then watches them step onstage and play gods in a completely different light!

This was the story within a story within a story.

This young Shafaat Khan grew up, wrote a one act play for an inter-collegiate competition that bombed, but still he fell in love with writing.

He eventually went on to become a cult playwright.

In 1997, the NSD wanted to create a repertory of work in order to commemorate the 50 years of the “radiant, auspicious journey” of the independent India. For this golden jubilee celebration, many playwrights were invited for a workshop – Arjun Deo Charan from Jodhpur, Hasmukhbhai Baradi from Ahmedabad, Shafaat Khan and others – to write an Independence Day play with government grants. Khan had no concept for the piece, and the pressure of producing something was massive.

While most of the writers went into the residency with a story, Shafaat saab was still waiting for the story to come to him. Each morning they’d all wake up and share their respective stories and how far they’d gotten. When it was Shafaat Saab’s turn, he’d apologise and tell them that he was still searching. This went on for a few days. At this point Shafaat Saab had begun to get a little restless.

While at the workshop, he read a newspaper clipping about a jeep traversing a dessert to drop people off to their destinations. A villager had gotten off at his village, and had found himself unable to pay the Rs. 2 fare that the driver demanded. What happened as a result was that the driver drove his jeep in reverse, ramming into the villager and killing him.

Something clicked inside Khan’s brain.

He said, “A play is prepared inside of you. This newspaper report triggered it within me. Fifty years after his country has received independence, a citizen doesn’t have Rs 2 to pay for a ride and it results in his death. Who has acquired this freedom we speak of? What dirty politics are played in the name of class and caste? These are the questions a writer must ask.”

A few days later on the invitation of his director friend Waman Kendre to the August Kranti maidan. Kendre was rehearsing for a play nearby and asked him to come along for a rehearsal. The play was based on the freedom struggle. Huge performances were planned for the August Kranti maidan. Elephants and canons were all present on the maidan alongside my Marathi theatre friends, who had called me there for a rehearsal. The first thing Khan saw on entering was Jhansi ki Rani, Jawaharlal Nehru and Mahatma Gandhi in conversation whilst in full costume. On seeing Khan, Nehru instantly came up and asked, “Do you have a matchbox, I need to light my cigarette?”

Khan couldn’t even recognise his friend in costume, and the matchbox interaction with Nehru struck him as very odd.

He thought it would be rude of him to deny Nehru a cigarette, especially since they all looked so exhausted. It turned out that Shafaat Saab had found his story.

It had always been within him. This was just the turning point.

The images buzzed in his head, and the first draft was ready in five days. This was Shobha Yatra’s process.

Someone at the talk asked him during the Q&A session, “Why writing?”

He very wisely replied, “As a child I always felt like I was ‘paraya (outsider)’. Playwriting was my way of getting society to accept me.”

 


The DSM Comes to Chennai!

 

Chennai: DSM Open Day series with Tushar Pandey

The DSM’s Open Day series visits for the first time in Chennai! And it is completely free and open to all!

 

At the DSM Open Day, leading theatre-makers, who are also DSM faculty, will show you what students at the school are taught as a part of their training. This is an excellent opportunity for you to witness first hand what makes learning at The Drama School Mumbai the best stepping stone for a bright career in theatre.

After successful Open Days in Bangalore, Mumbai and Pune, the DSM Open Day now comes to Chennai for the FIRST time ever.

 

About the Facilitator

Tushar Pandey

Tushar is an India based Actor, Director and a Teacher. He is an International awardee, with specialisation on Lecoq’s pedagogy from the London International School of Performing Arts (LISPA) and a graduate of the National School of Drama (NSD), India, Tushar has been practising performance since 2003. During the last eight years, he has been associated with various projects in India and the UK, performing, conducting workshops, creating works from classical styles to site-specific contemporary, acrobatic and mask-based works.

Apart from performing and creating work for stage in India, UK, Greece, China, Dubai, Tushar acted in a pivotal role in acclaimed film ‘PINK’, released in 2016, and has also played a lead role in an independent film, ‘Beyond Blue’, which premiered at Marche du (Cannes Film Festival 2015). He received Best Actor special mention at a festival in Rome in December 2015.

Tushar’s work concerns highly visual movement-and-text based combinations of fiction and non-fiction sources and is presently devising works to develop performance language and create new expressions that go beyond existing performance boundaries. Tushar is the co-convener of The Drama School, Mumbai and has been a visiting faculty at National School of Drama, New Delhi.

Oh, and the Open Day is completely FREE and open to all!

To sign up, write to us on info@thedramaschoolmumbai.in or give us a call on 9619336336.


The DSM Comes to Thane

Open Day Series: Akshay Shimpi in Thane!

The first DSM Open Day workshop in Thane!

After successfully conducting workshops across Mumbai, Pune and Delhi, DSM Open Day comes to Thane for the very first time!

Thane has traditionally been a place which cares about its arts and culture. And it is with the same love for the arts and theatre that DSM visits the city.

Get a chance to experience world-class training and know more about the Post Graduate Diploma in Acting and Theatre-making at The Drama School Mumbai during its Open Day Series which has already travelled to 3 other cities. Here leading theatre-makers, who also happen to be DSM faculty, will show you what students at the school are taught as a part of their training. This is an excellent opportunity for you to witness first hand what makes learning at The Drama School Mumbai the best stepping stone for a bright career in theatre.
About the Facilitator:

Akshay Shimpi

Akshay Shimpi has a Masters of Arts degree in Theatre Arts from the Mumbai University. Akshay is a well revered theatre-maker with over a decade of experience in the field. He is the faculty for Speech and Text at the DSM.  

In over a decade of working in theatre and film, Akshay Shimpi has done more than 30 plays and 7 short films that have toured festivals across India. He performs in both Hindi and Marathi and has been part of productions like Naag-Mandal, Ghashiram Kotwal, Hayvadan and Ram Sanjeevani ki Premkatha. He received acclaim for his portrayal of freedom fighter Anant Kanhere in the Marathi film 1909. His recent work with Astitva, Agdeech Shoonya is currently touring across Maharashtra.

 


Rooted: The Story of India's Rural Theatre

Indian theatre is deeply rooted, not just in the traditions of Sanskrit Drama as explained in Bharata’s Natyashastra, but also very significantly in folk dance and music, as well as tribal rituals and ceremonies. Post the Victorian hangover there have been attempts by organisations like the Indian People’s Theatre Association, the Progressive Writer’s Association and the Youth Cultural Institute (none by the government) to rescue vernacular theatre from the shadow of the proscenium-based English Theatre. That is why we have put together a list of theatre spaces that mark the rural landscape of India, making theatre with the people from whom we have inherited the very language of theatre.     

 

NAYA THEATRE

Naya Theatre evolved from Nacha, the Chhattisgarhi folk theatre. It is the legacy of the late PadmaShri Habib Tanvir. A graduate of the Royal Academy Of Dramatic Art, UK Tanvir established his own theatre troupe Naya Theatre in 1959 with handpicked folk artists in Bhopal. The artists of Naya Theatre spoke their own local dialect which eliminated any inhibition arising out of language and retained their particular dramatic skills which were often in opposition to English theatre training. For Tanvir the consideration of the sensibilities of the folk artists was an integral part of the creative process.  A lot of research, from books, folk songs and conversations, and vigorous editing would go into creating the first draft of the plays. A report from Livemint states that for his play Bahadur Kalarin, on a son’s incestuous feelings for his mother, he chatted with people in Chhattisgarh on the topic before they were told the story of the play and asked to improvise dialogue and movements. Tanvir’s irrevocable conviction in the rich culture of Nacha and his commitment towards the folk community  gave rise to milestones in Indian theatre like Charandas Chor, Gaon ka Naam Sasural, Mor Naam Damad and Kamdeo ka Apna Basant Ritu ka Sapna. Though Naya Theatre today is in need of new actors and plays, Tanvir’s daughter Nageen Tanvir is striving to carry on the troupe in all its vitality.  

picture 1
Nageen Tanvir in rehearsal with artists of Naya Theatre

 

 

KALAKHETRA MANIPUR  

Kalakshetra Manipur (KKM) established in 1969 by the late stalwart Heisnam Kanhailal and his wife Sabitri as a space that presents “Theatre of the Earth”. In an interview with NEZINE Kanhailal explained the ideology behind this specific form of theatre, “….theatre must become a voice for the voiceless, a means that gives the power and strength to the disempowered to resist and take on the challenges.” These marginalised voices in Kanhailal’s plays are often non-actors of the oppressed communities themselves. New Theatre Quarterly 29 mentions three such productions – Nupi Lan (1989), Sanjennaha (1979) and Thanghou Leh Liandou (1980).

Nupi Lan (Women’s War) was created through improvisations with around 70 working women from the famous Women’s Market of Imphal. Images of women in the Manipuri Lai Haraoba (ritual celebrations), in the market haggling and those of surviving, militant Manipuri women in political agitations became the aesthetics of the play.  In Sanjennaha (Cowherd) the plight of the actors ,who were villagers, was inextricably linked with the narrative of the exploited cowherd in the play. Thanghou Leh Liandou engaged the tribal youth of the Paite community, reminding them of a cultural heritage they were in the process of forgetting through imposed westernization. Kanhailal’s ardent commitment to devising a unique form of Manipuri theatre through silence and minimalism has given KKM a venerable reputation both nationally and internationally. As of the last decade KKM, which is located on the foothills of Imphal is moving out of its ethnic culture to the rural and natural environment of Assam and Tripura.

Heisnam Sabitri in KKM’s ‘Draupadi’
Heisnam Sabitri in KKM’s ‘Draupadi’

 

 

NINASAM

Nilakanteshwara Natyaseva Samgha, better known as Ninasam is Karnataka’s cultural powerhouse located deep in the hinterland of the state’s Heggodu village. Established in 1949, this brainchild of renowned dramatist and Magsaysay award winner, K. V. Subbanna is dedicated to the dissemination of theatre and culture. Evolving from a small amateur theatre troupe, today Ninasam has a one year diploma course in theatre with emphasis on working in non-urban conditions. Its impressive infrastructure consists of a one of a kind 700 seat auditorium, its only kind in rural India, for the performance of various art forms. Almost 80% of its past students are active in non-commercial theatre and cultural activities, while aspiring students from across class, caste and gender come from all corners of Karnataka to Ninasam. Its theatre group Tirugata, completely localized, performs almost 120 shows each year, to an estimated of 20 lakh people covering almost all districts of Karnataka. According to a report by the The Hindu some of the biggest names in theatre from B.V. Karnath to Fritz Bennewitz have directed Ninasam productions. Ooru Mane Utsava is the organisation’s theatre and culture festival that involves villagers from all around Heggodu. The theatre activities at Ninasam only form a minuscule part of the sum of its cultural activities ranging from film appreciation courses, intellectual debates on the cultural politics of Karnataka and a 7-10 day long workshop on cultural appreciation. The participants for this event forms a daunting figure of 2000 people including students, teachers, rural cultural activists, journalists, housewives as well as thinkers, intellectuals and artists from all over the country. What makes Ninasam remarkable is that it has single-handedly enriched and empowered the cultural topography of rural Karnataka, becoming a model of inspiration for the rest of the country.  

The students of The Drama School, Mumbai is set to do a week-long residency at Ninasam in this March and hope to breathe in some of this visionary work.

picture 3
Ninasam at Heggodu, Karnataka

 

 

KATTAIKKUTTU SANGAM

The Kattaikkuttu Sangam formed in 1990, is an organisation that integrates liberal education and the performing arts with an aim to promote and contemporize the art of Kattaikkuttu – the theatre of the rural people in the northern districts of Tamil Nadu. Based in the small village of Punjarasantankal, Kattaikkuttu Sangam is the only residential school for Kattaikkuttu. The Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam (Youth Theatre School) of the Sangam offers a training course in Kattaikkuttu for young rural Tamil boys and girls while providing them support to become professionals in the ancient art form. The students can also join the organisation’s theatre companies- The Kattaikkuttu Young Professionals, All Girls Company and The Junior Company. The Annual Kattaikkuttu Theatre Festival of the organisation brings Kattaikkuttu to local audiences, urban theatre enthusiasts, scholars and tourists. Kattaikkuttu Sangam is an indispensable theatre organ for the country for it  has become a platform for folk artists to get together from all parts of Tamil Nadu and revive this dying theatre of Kattaikkuttu.  

Kathaikuttu

 

YAKSHAGANA KENDRA

The centuries old theatre tradition of Karnataka- Yakshagana is what the  Yakshagana Kendra in Udupi strives to keep alive. Steeped in Indian mythology, Yakshagana is a vibrant blend of folk and classical modes with ornate forms of costume and make-up. To promote Yakshagana on various levels the Kendra offers a residential programme that combines formal education along with training in Yakshagana, while its troupe Yaksha Ranga consists  of almost 100 artists that engage in local and national performances. It also also acts as a center of research and documentation for Yakshagana by publishing books on it.  

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Yakshagana

 

While doing research for this article, we were hard-pressed to find examples of such organizations. If any of our readers do know of some we should have covered, please do write in and we’ll do our best to include them. Because, in a world that is threateningly being consumed by a homogenizing global culture these organisations act as preservers and re-inventors of indigenous art forms. Which then allows theatre to become a people’s channel through the ages. 


Shadows of Fire: NaireetBasak@theDSM

Shadows Of Fire 1

Shadows Of Fire is a solo performance that emerged from Butoh. It delves into the subconscious of the body and mind and tries to call out to the fire hidden within us. This fire physically has no shadow, but emerges every time it is evoked. This piece explores the birth of an untamed creature, its growth and its play with the different elements found in nature. It looks for freedom from all these, with help from the balance of the ambers and blues in a body, but gets stuck in a dilemma of energy. Does it escape the cacophony of the watchful eyes or does it perish? The question remains answered. Shadows Of Fire has been inspired by Naireet’s body-watching and exploration of the elements in the body that were realized into a dramatic piece while practicing Butoh.  A highly interpretative piece, he expects audiences (and himself) to be “surprised” each time with the energies of the performance.  

Click here for a glimpse of Shadows Of Fire at the Butoh Festival at Mcleodjang, Himachal in May 2016.

Naireet is a theatre-maker and performer whose primary interest is in telling stories through moving body images. He has trained intensively in Kalaripayatu and Butoh and worked with Clowning, Tai-chi, Kudiyattam, contemporary dance and various other theatre-making forms. He has been involved with Children’s Theatre both as an actor and director in Kolkata. Last year he directed Love Circus – a six actor movement performance piece in Kolkata.

Date: 25th Feb

Time: 7 PM

Cost: Rs 200/- per ticket

Venue: 5th Floor, Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh, Dr Bhalerao Marg, Charni Road Kele Wadi, Mumbai-400002

Call 9619336336 for details


2 Day Intensive Workshop in Corporeal Mime with Vini Carvalho

Vini Carvalho in action

Corporeal Mime is an aspect of physical theater. It’s objective is to place drama inside the moving human body by allowing the actor to show thought through movement. It “makes the invisible visible” through the presence of the body. Developed by Etienne Decroux, Corporeal Mime is unlike pantomime that substitutes speech with gesture. The objectives of Corporeal Mime are to enable the actor to become more autonomous in creating metaphor-based physical theater pieces, which may include text, but are not based on text, i.e. to give the actor greater access to physical metaphors that work in traditional plays, and to increase the actor’s strength, agility, flexibility and imaginative powers.

 

This month we have an intensive Corporeal Mime workshop conducted by Vini Carvalho. He has been developing his practice as a movement teacher and performer for the past nine years, teaching various workshops and classes in theatre, neutral mask and mime. He trained at the International School of Corporeal Mime for four years in London and graduated in Performing Arts from University of Campinas, Brazil. Vini has also worked and studied with a number of companies and theatre practitioners, such as Theatre de l’Ange Fou, Alice K, LUME, Tiche Viana and Leris Colombaione. He is the artistic director of Fool’s Cap Theatre.

Through technical and creative exercises the workshop will focus on the following-

  • Articulation of the body and space
  • Counterweights: creating actions of ‘push, pull, lift’
  • Dynamo-rhythms: playing with different rhythms in movement
  • Walks
- Improvisations based on the technique
  • Figures- short movement sequences based on daily actions
  • Pieces from the repertoire of the technique

Through the workshop the participants will be able to enhance their  stage presence, precision, confidence in movement, balance, coordination, dynamics and rhythm, muscular tone and flexibility. At the same time the participants will gain an understanding of the basic technique and style of Corporeal Mime. .

Don’t miss this chance to dive into the world of mime and movement-based performance!

Date: 16th and 17th February

Time: 8 am to 2 pm

Fee: Rs 4500

Venue: Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh,

Dr Bhalerao Marg,

Charni Road Kele Wadi,

Mumbai-400002

Age limit: Over 16 years

To apply send in your CV and a cover letter stating your reasons for wanting to do this workshop to info@thedramaschoolmumbai.in

Carvalho Flier

Dress code: Tight workout/dancewear clothing or clothing that does not restrict movement and will allow your tutor to see your work more clearly.

In order to get the most from the workshop you should be able to-

  • Follow spoken instructions
  • Work within groups and pairs safely
  • Be able to undertake a movement class