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.


Adrak@theDSM - Niketan Sharma brings his new play to the DSM

 

Alumnus Niketan Sharma brings his play Adrak to The Drama School Mumbai!

Teaming up with him are alumni Trinetra Tiwarii, Dheer Hira, Niharika Lyra Dutt and Kartavya Anthwaal Sharma, and co-writer Abhishek Kumar.

 

About Adrak

Adrak is a story which revolves around three characters namely Vikrant, Nischay and Anokhi.

The bond between Vikrant and his younger brother Nischay is such that they both feel dependent on one another. But it’s difficult to say who is more dependent on the other!

Nischay can’t find a space to live independently. Also, he is so comfortable living in the shadow of his elder brother that it is very difficult for Nischay to live away from Vikrant.

Anokhi comes in Vikrant’s life and eventually in their home (to live in) and the equation changes.

Vikrant and Anokhi’s relationship starts affecting Nischay? Or is Nischay affecting them?

Are they in the same soup now or is of them a missing ingredient?

The play starts with Vikrant and Anokhi falling apart after 4 years of their relationship resulting in a separation.

It later unfolds on that single day when Anokhi is coming back to get her stuff back. This creates all the chaos and ruckus in their lives.

After this incident, things would not be the same for all of them..specially for Nischay!

Come, watch the play at The Drama School Mumbai.

 

Date: 24th June, 2017

Time: 7 PM

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

Tickets at the gate.  


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


Aakash Prabhakar@theDSM: Crumpled

Crumpled – A Compilation of Imperfect Love Stories

 

DSM alumnus Aakash Prabhakar comes to DSM with Crumpled, a compilation of imperfect love stories. Aakash is accompanied by a talented cast and crew who make these five stories something you will remember for a long time.

Crumpled will be performed on the 27th of May at 7 pm. Of course at The Drama School, Mumbai.

 

Crumpled is a compilation of 5 modern short love stories of 10-15 minutes each showing what and how relationships are all about now in the contemporary times.

Written by: Aakash Prabhakar, Julianne Homokay, Rahul Rai, Kalpak Bhave.

Cast: Aakash Prabhakar, Chirag Lobo, Gaurangi Dang, Himanshu Sharma, Mahnaz Damania, Manu Gupta, Rajan Sharma

 

The stories:

The Connection

Written By Aakash Prabhakar

Life without the Internet seems pretty impossible doesn’t it?

The Connection is a story about what happens when a young couple go through a traumatic loss of loosing their (internet) connection for 10 minutes and what happens for those 10 minutes and how they find a deeper connection with each other than the one they lost.

 

The Tinder date

Written By Rahul Rai

“Tinder” which is so widely used and loved here in a city like Mumbai, is loved may be because people who use it are from Mumbai, or any other metropolitan city.

What happens when a boy from Haryana who moved into Mumbai goes on a tinder date with a “Mumbai Girl” is what The Tinder Date is all about. Was swiping right really the right thing to do?

 

Spur

Written By Kalpak Bhave

Sometimes people really wish they could just go back in time, may be just for a few seconds, sometimes you also have to be really careful of what you wish for. Hasan makes a choice, which his girlfriend Tara is clearly not happy about and he wonders if he would have done the same if he could go back in time just for few seconds ..and he does go back in time..

He would have done the same? He wouldn’t? May be he…

 

The Wedding Story

We always go for the stereotypes don’t we? Create the most typical characters while we tell our kids a bedtime story? It is Usually about A prince and his princess, whisking away on a white horse to Hawaii for their honeymoon after their marriage? The storyteller who tells this story will surely be surprised when these characters suddenly pop out from the story his weaving to tell him what the reality is. Of course, in front of all those kids he is telling the story to.

 

The American Dream

Written By Aakash Prabhakar

A nice big house in California or Washington Dc may be, two cars, two kids, make a lot of money and enjoy that lifestyle that we see on television or hear our relatives living all the time is usually what we want isn’t it? That has always been the dream. The American Dream is a monologue about the American dream that a boy always chased since he was in 4th grade. But not all dreams come true isn’t it?

Who cares if it doesn’t? Life moves on anyway..

 

Crumpled

Date: 27th of May 2017

Time: 7 PM

Venue: The Drama School, Mumbai

 


Alumni@theDSM: Performances by new theatre-makers

Over the next 4 months, past students of The Drama School Mumbai will bring their performances back their school. This is a special feature of “Alumni@theDSM” season of performances. It is a choice selection of new performances by a new generation of theatre-makers who started their journey at the DSM.  The first performance in this series is Chenda, a play devised by BeTaal.

BeTaal@theDSM

BeTaal is a group of theatre enthusiasts who believe in the off-beat, the breaking of rhythm and going BeTaal. Vaishnavi Rp (2015-16) and Abhinav Grover (2014-15) founded this group last year. Thus far they have embarked on 3 projects: Chenda, Paanchvaali and Mere Abba Mughal-e-Azaam.

A Chenda is a South Indian cylindrical percussion instrument whose ends are covered, usually with animal’s skin. This instrument is famous for its loud and rigid sound. The first is a performance called Chenda which is about a folk artist who realizes that his dead cow’s soul has come into his Chenda. The play opened at Thespo last year.
Playwright:  Abhinav Grover

Crew: Vaishnavi Ratna Prashant, Seewant Kushal, Siddharth Raghuvanshi, Srinivas, Venu Madhav Bhatt, Rishabh Kanti.

Language: Hindi

Performance Duration: 60 mins

 

For tickets, click here: https://in.bookmyshow.com/plays/chenda/ET00054995

For more details, call 9619336336 / mail info@thedramaschoolmumbai.in

 


Hear ye! Hear ye! The Mule's Foal is coming your way!

After 24 weeks of intensive training with the finest theatre-makers in acting, speech, body movements and theatre lessons, Batch 2016-17 of The Drama School Mumbai is ready with its first performance for the masses in the form of “The Mule’s Foal.”

Based on the short novel by Fotini Epanomitis, and adapted by Australian playwright Alan Becher, The Mule’s Foal is a tale about love, longing, gossip and a village where nothing makes sense! Under the co-directorship of theatre-makers Puja Sarup and Sheena Khalid, the students of DSM showcase their theatre chops in this new Hindi translation by Neha Sharma.  As a part of their curriculum, the students are given the opportunity to tour multiple cities with the production of the play.

“This is a show that is as much devised as it is scripted and in that sense the students have contributed so much to the creation of the show,” the directors said of this collaborative effort by the students of the DSM.

The show opened on the 4th and 5th of March at The Drama School Mumbai. Dates of the subsequent performances are given below. To book your tickets, do log on to bookmyshow.com.

 

7th March, 6:30pm – NCPA XP, Mumbai

11th March, 3:30pm – Ranga Shankara, Bangalore

11th March, 7:30pm – Ranga Shankara, Bangalore

26th March, 11am – Sudarshan Rangmanch, Pune

27th March, 6pm – Lalit Kala Kendra, Pune

1st April, 7pm – The Drama School Mumbai

8th April, 7pm – The Drama School Mumbai

15th April, 7pm – The Drama School Mumbai

16th April, 7pm – The Drama School Mumbai

 


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


unSEEN: A Devised Solo Performance

Process TheatreZ@theDSM

DSM Student Convenor and Process TheatreZ Co-founder Kalyanee Mulay in unSEEN

unSEEN is a devised performance piece based on Rabindranath Tagore’s letter- ‘Ramabai-er Baktritar Upalakhse’ written in 1891. Tagore, one of India’s most celebrated thinkers, wrote the letter as a response to the celebrated social reformer Pandita Ramabai’s speech asserting that a “woman can do anything that man can except drinking alcohol.” Originally written in Bengali and published in the Bharti periodical, in this highly disputable response to Ramabai, Tagore points out how nature has made women weaker than men both physically and intellectually – to which women must comply.

unSEEN is a critique of the ways in which patriarchal society perceives femininity. It is an examination of the Nobel laureate’s misconstrued notion of womanhood.

Tagore is renowned for being an unwavering if anachronistic champion of the ‘feminine’ at a time when the world was yet to wake up to feminism. His oeuvre bears an extraordinary commitment to women’s issues and an empathetic understanding of the same. unSEEN then reveals the irony as well as a pervasive helplessness of this revered intellectual trying to pinpoint markers of masculine superiority, in a social system he himself questioned repeatedly.

unSEEN unfolds through the exploration of  a woman’s self, her body, the male gaze over that female body, her biological cycle (menstruation, motherhood, pain and surrender) and her deification. Each of these aspects of womanhood is complemented with three specific elements in the play – sound installation, non-verbal performance and the recitation of the text itself.

Kalyanee Mulay, the solo performer of unSEEN says that the play is “a small step towards reclaiming the female body not only in performance but also in the social context.”

unSEEN is Process TheaterZ’s first production. Formed in 2012, the company aims at collaborative work, on a national level, among theater artists, designers, performers, fine artists, writer, directors and musicians with the main objective of exploring contemporary theater languages.

Directior: Vishnupad Barwe

Performer: Kalyanee Mulay

Light design: Gajanan Zarmekar and Arpita Dhagat

Object design: Satish Gaokar

Translation: Anwesh Singbal (Konkani) Geeta Joshi and Antara Bhide (English)

Date: 28th January 2017

Timing: 7-9 pm

unSEEN: Process TheatreZ@theDSM

For tickets or information regarding the performance, please call 9619336336.


Katha Gaayan @TheDSM: A lecture-demonstration in Katha-Gaayan storytelling by Ajay Kumar

Performance traces it’s origins back to storytelling. India has a rich heritage of oral traditions from Padvani in Chhattisgarh to Kathakali Kerala to Baul storytelling in West Bengal.

Storytelling has ever been dependent on singing – entire narratives were initially presented as a musical arrangement with one or many performers. The emphasis was not so much on performance as on the nuances of singing. Over time, traditions evolved and body movement, gestures and postures added a visual layer to the hitherto aural experience. And then performers developed the third layer of character – developing body movement and dialogue according to the idiosyncrasies of the character and situation. In the Hindi-Urdu tradition, this practice came to be known variously as Katha-goyee, Kissa-faroshee, Baat-poshee or simply Katha-Gaayan.

katha-gaayan-banner

This Saturday evening, catch NSD alumni and The DSM faculty Ajay Kumar take you through the process of turning ordinary in to extraordinary through the simple act of storytelling. He will present the stories of Vijaydan Detha – a prolific writer from Rajasthan whose stories inspired Habib Tanvir’s Charandas Chor and 2005’s Shahrukh Khan – starrer Paheli. 

7 PM | 17th December | 5th Floor, Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh, Charni Road East, Mumbai | Entry Free | Call 9619336336 for details

Incidentally, another story by Vijaydan Detha made splashes at NCPA’s Centrestage Festival this year – Dohri Zindagi. Directed by former Theatre Professionals facilitator Gurleen Judge – Dohri Zindagi, which explores what it is to love in a homophobic society, will makes it’s way to The DSM on the 24th of December. This play will be part of the Hive Around Town series. To book tickets for the show, log on to bookmyshow.

NCPA Centrestage theatre preview & press Conference at Experimental Theatre, NCPA on 16/11/2017. Photo By : NARENDRA DANGIYA
NCPA Centrestage theatre preview & press Conference at Experimental Theatre, NCPA on 16/11/2017.
Photo By : NARENDRA DANGIYA

 

 

 


Exploring Childhood through Theatre

Childhood has an intrinsic propensity towards theatre – children perform the roles of adults that surround them and even develop make-believe friends. These friends become the co-actors of their internal worlds during play. The crossroad where childhood and theatre intersect gives rise to imagination, lateral thinking and ideation. In a world threatened by passive absorption of content, theatre has the power to breed a generation of idea-generators to power every walk of life. And watching theatre is as important to this process as creating it. Sitting in a dark room, concentrating on a single spectacle may seem like an unusual activity for a toddler but watching a play can lengthen a child’s attention span, develops patience and enhance listening skills. Theatre also has the advantage of connecting children to the world of books. It inculcates the written form’s sense of empathy, curiosity and literacy by being live, a form often more engaging than reading.

“The Attic” produced by The Starcatchers, Scotland
         The Attic produced by The Starcatchers, Scotland for 0-3 year olds

The act of going to the theatre and participating in it instills a strong sense of community, sharing and togetherness in children- values, which are taught in almost all education institutions. Where as self-confidence and courage often become markers of personality for children who have had stage experience. Children’s involvement with theatre does not only make them good artists, but makes them lifelong appreciators of the performing arts.

Children’s theatre which is formally known as Theatre For Young Audiences (TYA) is essentially of three types-Theatre for Young People (plays meant to be watched by young people aged between 0-18 years, Theatre with Young People (theatre made with young people aged 8-16 years) and Youth Theatre (young people aged 16 and above making theatre).

A platform that caters to all three is The International Association Of Theatre For Children And Young People (ASSITEJ). ASSITEJ unites theatres, organisations and individuals throughout the world who make theatre for and by children and young people. Programmes like Small Size focus on awareness and collaboration of performing arts for early childhood learning (0-6yrs) while its International Theatre For Young Audiences Research Network gives TYA an academic approach. Its Next Generation project engages young and emerging artists and professional theatremakers from all over the world interested in TYA, through a variety of exchange programmes, group projects and professional placements. Currently ASSITEJ has members from 100 countries across the world. All of us have a chance to see ASSITEJ’s work first hand at the Tifli – International TYA Festival that kicked of in Delhi this weekend. Tifli travels to Mumbai and Hyderabad from the 7th to the 9th of December. For a detailed schedule of Tifli and to get tickets for open shows, click here.

tifli-1
Plays for all ages at the Tifli International TYA Festival

One of the first theatres to deal socio-critically with lives and living conditions of children GRIPS Theatre in Berlin.  Now almost four decades old the GRIPS’ plays have been re-staged more than 1,500 times in some 40 languages around the world. Nearly 100,000 theatregoers attend performances by the GRIPS Theater in Berlin each year, making it a theatre with one of the highest percentages of ticket sales. Each season, the GRIPS Theatre’s youth club prepares and stages a production. GRIPS also offers theatre education programmes, workshops and performances in schools. In cooperation with the energy company GASAG, the theatre presents its annual Berlin children’s theatre prize to authors of works for children’s and youth theatre. Inspired by this German endeavor GRIPS Pune was founded in 1989. What makes GRIPS distinct from other children’s theatre is that it takes issues from children’s world like lack of playgrounds, drug abuse, single parents as opposed to traditional children’s theatre where fairytales and other lighter content is performed. In 2015 as part of the Maharashtra Culture Center’s Children’s Theatre Festival, GRIPS Pune performed “Ekda Kay Zaala”, directed by Radhika Ingale, that talks about child abuse and good and bad touch using humour and music.

ekda-kay-zhaala
Rehearsal still from Ekda Kay Zaala

Unlike most classroom learning, specific dynamics in children’s theatre helps children imbibe social values without being didactic. Theatre company Swangvale, in the production of its children’s play “Rang Rangeela Gittu Girgit” embeds the message of the play -to save and grow trees, through the play’s set and costume design that are made out of recycled material. Object theatre artist and winner of the Sangeet Natak Akademi award Choiti Ghosh says that, “Children share a natural relationship with objects which is part of their play. Objects occupy a neutral non-judgmental space through which children can explore the world. This gives children a greater interpretative power to read into the issues explored by object theatre.”

picture-4-rang-rangeela-gittu-girgit
Recycled costumes of Rang Rangeela Gittu Girgit

Theatre is often used to address and cope with particular childhood circumstances. Freedom Theatre from Palestine, has theatre programmes particularly for the young generation that provide them with important tools for dealing with the hardships of daily life under occupation.  The youth has always been associated as wheels of social change and revolution. Though various colleges across the country incorporate theatre in their cultural calendar or festivals, Shadow Liberation Project, an initiative of the students of the Srishti School Of Art, Design and Technology, Bangalore) have opened their performances to the public. They use shadow theatre to creatively craft visual narratives of gender violence- a widespread issue in India.

picture-6-freedom-theatre
Freedom Theatre, Jenin, Palestine

Britain’s National Theatre in London holds an annual theatre festival called Connections which stages 10-15 newly commissioned plays for the youth across prestigious theatre venues in the U.K after careful selection. In India Thespo, born in 1999, provides a similar platform for theatre aspirants under the age of 25. It aims at creating a professional space for youth theatre with its year round theatre related workshops and training activities and commences with its December youth theatre festival of one-act plays. Now in its 18th year the Thespo Theatre Festival kicks off on the 13th of December at the Prithvi Theatre and NCPA in Mumbai.

 

Theatre for young audiences is definitely an upcoming career option for those with theatre roots. In fact quite a few theatre professionals can trace their beginnings to college days, making youth theatre for events like Thespo. But it doesn’t come without it’s challenges. Former IPTA (Indian People’s Theatre Association) Mumbai’s co-ordinator Shaili Sathyu, now the artistic director of Gillo Theatre Repertory, a theatre company exclusively for children, says, “A variety in content for children is lacking. There are very few theatre groups performing quality plays for children and taking this genre seriously; regularity of performances is not viable for most groups (special rental rates would help); theatre connect programmes with schools (government and private) are still only starting in few places in India; very few performances are created for the 11 to 16 age group, most importantly there is a lack in understanding among decision-makers about the importance of aesthetic development of children (including theatre and other arts) and the scope of theatre activities in education.”

Children’s theatre is not a watered-down, sugar-coated version of adult theatre. The Godfather of drama, Constantin Stanislavsky had reportedly said that the only important difference between adult and children’s theatre is that the latter should be better. Better because children are honest spectators who will not oblige themselves to polite applause if their standards of engagement and  entertainment are not met. Better also because theatre has the greatest impact on an elastic mind, helping it expand, imagine the impossible. Better because through play, children can be moved to action in order to change the world we live in today.

Written by Payal Mohta

To know more about this topic or to write for us, mail info@dramaschoolmumbai.in