'Tis the Season to be Onstage: A look at upcoming theatre festivals

As practitioners of art and theatre or even writing, one is always faced with a moment of doubt because you begin to think about whether something has been done before. It’s not very easy to digest, but truth be told, it probably has been done before. And that’s OKAY. Because when it comes to documenting art and traditions of performance practices, one also considers different voices and perspectives that add to a particular tradition. It is upto us, readers and spectators, to recognize these new voices and for this purpose, theatre festivals are a great platform.
For all the theatre practitioners who may be looking for a chance at gaining some visibility do check out some of these festivals this winter season:

 

CentreStage

 

When October

Where: NCPA, Mumbai

 

While it’s already a little too late to apply for this festival, theatre companies should keep in mind that NCPA has some of the most prestigious stages and the patrons are generally people who have a lot of influence. Thus, for the average theatre practitioner, this is a great space to try and build your network.


Prithvi Theatre Festival

When: November
Where: Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai

 

Prithvi Theatre has established itself as a cultural hub and an enviable performance space that most artists yearn after because of its professional, technical setup and brilliant acoustics. The Prithvi Theatre Festival was first held in 1983, five years after the venue’s establishment. One can spot here on any occasion, at least one or more of the eminent personalities from the film industry who also have strong ties to theatre such as Naseeruddin Shah, Rajat Kapoor, Vinay Pathak and Lilette Dubey. The Theatre Festival itself, has grown a lot over the years exploring different themes and celebrating the work of people who’ve made invaluable contributions to the world of theatre. They also provide space for platform performances outside the auditorium and thus theatre practitioners who wish to get some visibility could use this space for fringe pieces. In the last few years, the Prithvi Festival has also expanded itself to provide a platform for music, thus inviting a new set of artists as well as audience.

 

Nandikar Festival

 

When: December
Where: Academy of Fine Arts, Kolkatta

 

Nandikar’s National Theatre Festival was started in 1984. It is arranged annually in Kolkata, India, between 16 and 25 December. The main objective that drives the organizers of this festival is the need to create a space which helps facilitate cultural integration in India and also to provide a forum to artistes from different parts of the country where they can engage in creative discussion and exchange notes or collaborate.

 

International Theatre Festival of Kerala

 

When: January

Where: Thrissur, Kerala

 

This is, without a doubt, one of the best theatre festivals in the country primarily because of the way it’s curated and the range of performances one can witness at this festival. ITFoK has really proved to be a catalyst with respect to creating an audience and culture for theatre. According to Pranav Raj, who was involved with ITFoK, this space also helped draw out more conservative audiences who, because of great exposure, have now built their own vocabulary to appreciate and critique theatre. For its 10th edition, ITFoK has chosen the theme, “Theatre of the Marginalized: Reclaiming the Margins” thereby inviting creative interpretations of these “margins”.

 

Bharat Rang Mahotsav

 

When: February

Where: NSD, Delhi

 

Bharat Rang Mahotsav was established a decade ago by the National School of Drama to stimulate the growth and development of theatre across the country. Originally a national festival showcasing the work of the most creative theatre workers in India, it has evolved to international scope, hosting theatre companies from around the world, and is now the largest theatre festival of Asia. The 16th Mahotsav will include several national and international performances, and various associated events in a wrap-around program.

Deepika Arvind who performed her play, “No rest in the kingdom” at the Old World Theatre Festival explains that what draws spectators to theatre festivals is the fact that one gets to see a range of work at the same time and at the same place. For the artist too, she says, “A lot of the stuff gets taken care of; the economics really work out and you don’t have to push for publicity as much.” The latter is especially true for those performing at festivals such as the Ranga Shankar Theatre Festival in Bangalore and The Hindu Theatre Festival  in Chennai because the festivals itself have a following of their own. Apart from the logistical advantages, Arvind talks about how performing and touring with theatre festivals proved to be useful because your work reaches new audiences and you learn how to adapt to different contexts.
Pranav Raj, shares some information on how the process of applying to or registering with a festival takes place. It differs to an extent. Some invite participants based on recommendations but most send out calls for submissions i.e performance videos which are then screened and then the participants are shortlisted. There is always the possibility that regional work is not represented adequately but to counter that one could establish a committee of sorts that scouts out regional talent like Thespo does, for youth theatre.  

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Theatre_festivals_in_India


The Festive Spirit: An interview with Prasad Vanarase

interviewed and written by Arwa Janjali

 

Vidyanidhee Vanarase (Prasad) has been a recognised name in the theatre circuit in Pune. After playing different roles such as a teacher, director, arts and cultural manager… he has an exciting addition to his theatre profile – Founder Director of the International Association for Performing Arts and Research (IAPAR).

IAPAR is the first-of-its-kind initiative in Pune city to bring together theatre practitioners and arts educators from across the globe. Its annual IAPAR International Theatre Festival has become the most looked forward to event ever since its launch last year.

In conversation with Prasad on IAPAR’s theatre extravaganza and the blooming trend of festivals in the country.

 

What’s the idea behind having an international theatre festival in Pune?

I have been hosting theatre festivals since 1999, including the Prithvi International Theatre Festival in Pune in the year 2000. All that experience made me realise that this kind of celebration is important beyond just a celebration. As it becomes an interesting platform where artists can come together, perform and talk to each other besides watching each other’s work, attending workshops together and so on.

Also, the more I attended festivals abroad, the more I felt that this kind of atmosphere needs to be created in India. And although we do have occasional festivals in the country already, Pune didn’t have any place where actors from India and other countries can look forward to performing and interacting. Despite being called the cultural capital. Hence, we initiated IAPAR (International Association for Performing Arts and Research) Festival last year.

As for the idea behind the festival, in the long run I look at it growing into an arts festival spanning two to three weeks and not just a theatre fest. Theatre will always remain an integral part of it but it will feature other art forms as well. We have already started incorporating music and dance in some performances. This year, an international band will be presenting a platform performance on the inaugural day of the international section. Last year, we had a 15 minutes platform performance called Transit which has eventually evolved into a full-fledged production called In Transit. So this year, we are featuring In Transit at the festival.  

 

How has the response to the festival been so far?

As far as the audience is concerned, all shows were houseful. I only get uneasy when theatre practitioners don’t come regularly to see the performances. I would like to see more and more theatre practitioners in the audience.  

 

Is there a target audience for this festival?

We are trying to reach out to more and more youngsters from across the country as we feel they should get an opportunity to be a part of the festival. We have invited students from five universities this year to come attend the festival. It is more like bringing something to the city for young people. They should be able to see the various possibilities of a performance, the different ways of performing. Last year, we were able to accommodate 60 students without charging them a penny for the festival.

Keeping youngsters in mind, you have also introduced an inter-collegiate play reading competition this year. But the only language allowed for the plays is Marathi. Why the insistence on just one language?

It’s not like we don’t want other languages but this year it is only in Marathi as we don’t know what response we are going to get. If it’s multiple languages and 10 entries, it becomes very difficult and unfair to compare a Hindi reader to an English reader or a Marathi reader. And since it’s a competition and play reading, language matters. Also, considering its Pune, we thought of having Marathi as one would read in a language one feels comfortable in. Next year, we might have a separate section for Hindi or English plays.  

 

Most masterclasses and workshops at the festival are also by international artists. Has language been a barrier there?

Yes, it is.  So we make sure we have a good translator at all the sessions. Generally, we have two people along with the facilitator. One who understands and speaks the language of the facilitator and the other who understands and speaks the language of the audience.

 

The focus has also been on creating a network for academics through this festival. Is that mainly to do with theatre education?

It is primarily to do with the way theatre is taught at any platform. Whether it’s schools, colleges or theatre departments at universities. For example, The Indian Society for Theatre Research (ISTR) has professors coming together and reading papers, etc. But their study has no connection with the practice. Practitioners meet at festivals and keep demeaning the academic part of the performing arts education. And this conflict between the practitioners and academicians has been a long tradition world over. We are trying to make an effort to bridge that gap.

So this year, we are hosting the International Association of Theatre Critics (IATC) and having a young critics’ forum at the festival, which is in collaboration with the Indian section of IATC. There would be a weeklong workshop for young critics from all over the world who would be interacting with Indian theatre practitioners, theatre critics and the performers at the festival. The idea is to allow academicians to have a comfortable access to the performers. For them to understand the creative process. Similarly, performers also need to understand that the critics have a probing approach to their work and it’s important that their work gets articulated.

Also, IAPAR is the only Indian member institution of the UNESCO – UNITWIN Network for Higher Education in Performing Arts. And we are trying to get people from across the globe to collaborate with IAPAR so that it is beneficial for the students here. However, we are not looking at creating another infrastructure with respect to a formal institution as such.  

 

We are truly in a day and age of festivals, what with them mushrooming all over the country. What is the future of this festival trend in India according to you?

The festival culture in Europe has existed for many years now. But one of the reasons why festivals are mushrooming in India is because of the grant given by the Ministry of Culture to host festivals. That’s played a major role. However, the question is whether one’s mission and vision is clear enough to sustain the festival irrespective of the funding from the government. That is something which we will know over a period of time. So this mushrooming could be a temporary phase which would eventually fade out.

Having said that, festivals are beneficial for performers, who don’t find enough performance opportunities in their own city. So on one hand, it is good that festivals are creating performance opportunities but, on the other, one has to wait and watch how many of these festivals actually survive.

 

Lastly, what do you think of the current theatre culture in Pune?

The theatre culture is very vibrant in Pune at present. It’s interesting how practitioners are exploring and experimenting with multiple alternate spaces. And still doing good and honest theatre. There is a lot happening, but again, how much of it will survive, only time will tell.

 

In the meanwhile, here is the amazing line-up at the  IAPAR Internal Theatre Festival 2017. Book tickets right here.


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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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.


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