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

2016's Biggest Theatre Moments

The creative industry is always in flux. So much so that it is easy to be unaware of the passage of time. Which is why we decided to talk to prominent theatre-makers from India and abroad to get some of 2016’s biggest Theatre Moments down for you. Here you’ll find news, unmissable events, productions and collaborations that transpired in 2016.

India

Theatre Strikes the Hinterlands

Few organizations can claim to have singlehandedly galvanized the theatre scene in a city. Rangashakara is one of them. The Bangalore-based theatre organisation started 2016 with its new intense residential workshop, Making Theatre that ran for a month between May and June. This project brought together 20 handpicked theatre practitioners from different districts of Karnataka to be trained in all aspects of direction. The participants, post the workshop, directed a play with teams from their hometown and then staged it during December. Not only was that 20 new works for stage reaching new audiences, but 8 shortlisted productions will be showcased at the Shankar Nag Youth Festival in February 2017. Rangashankara director, Arundhati Nag believes, “Through Making Theatre Rangashankara was able to strike the hinterlands. And that’s what really matters, because theatre is ultimately for the people.”

 

Rangashankara’s Making Theatre Poster (pc: Rangashankara)
Rangashankara’s Making Theatre Poster (pc: Rangashankara)

 

 

The Continuing Romance of Epics and Theatre

An open air arena, fireworks in darkness, rains drenched in electric blue light, scent, soil and sky, life-size puppets, a music score of native and Arabic strings and percussion interwoven with the dramatic elements of Theyyam…  These are the rich aesthetics of the play Khasakkinte Ithihasam (The Legends Of Khasak) that opened to spell-bound audiences in 2016. The play is based on O. V. Vijayan’s epic novel of the same name. The story explores human experiences – bliss, sorrow, loneliness, poverty, death, desire and religious fervour in lyrical prose. The setting is the fictional village of Khasak. Directed by Deepan Sivaram, this watermark in Malyalam literature, has now become a spectacular piece of  theatre. Like Making Theatre, this three and a half hour production gives theatre back to the people. The cast is entirely composed of non-actors from Trikaripur and other villages of Kerala. The entire community participated in the play as an audience and come together to arrange props, sets, costumes, provide food and infrastructure. Veteran theatre actor and director Neelam Mansingh Chowdhury says that, “Sitting in the audience under a star-lit night, it (Khasak) gave you a feeling of being a grand people’s event.” The play has been performed in Kerala, Bangalore, Kochi, Goa and Mumbai in 2016.

To book tickets for Khasak‘s  January shows in Mumbai, log on to bookmyshow now!

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A scene from The Legends of Khasak

 

 

First Ever India-Palestine Theatre Collaboration: Freedom Jatha

2015-2016 saw the first ever India-Palestine theatre collaboration between Jan Natya Manch (JANAM) and Palestine’s Freedom Theatre. Delhi-based JANAM has always been at the forefront of protest theatre in India. It specializes in left-winged Hindi street-theatre while Freedom Theatre, based  out of Jenin Refugee Camp in the West Bank has been using theatre to draw attention to the Occupation since 2002. The exchange started December 2015 , when students and artists from Freedom Theatre arrived in Delhi for training and rehearsals with JANAM. The play they created toured across 11 cities in India in the beginning of 2016, doing over 30 performances and events with local artists.

In April 2016, JANAM made the return visit to Palestine for joint performances in Jenin and other West Bank locations. In the words of JANAM actor-director Sudhanva Deshpande, “The most remarkable thing about this exchange was that it took place without any institutional funding. It was a pure people to people, artist to artist exchange that stood for international solidarity through art between two theatre groups.”

Jana Natya Manch and The Freedom Theatre come together to propagate the idea of freedom and liberation.
Jana Natya Manch and The Freedom Theatre come together to propagate the idea of freedom and liberation.

 

 

IAPAR International Theatre Festival

The International Association for Performing Arts and Research (IAPAR) is a network of artists and art professionals seeking to exchange ideas and increase opportunities within the arts. Based in Pune, IAPAR is the only Indian member institution of the UNESCO – UNITWIN Network for Higher Education in Performing Arts. The first IAPAR International Theatre Festival was organized from 18th to 22nd of November 2016. Artists from Austria, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Russia, Sri Lanka and India participated in this festival. Held at the Jyotsna Bhole Sabhagruha in Pune, the focus of the festival was- ‘Actor at the Centre’. An exclusive exhibition of paintings titled ‘Lighting the stage: Magic of Theatre’ by veteran artist Shri Shyam Bhutkar was also showcased at the festival. For IAPAR’s founder and director Vidyanidhee Prasad Vanarase, “The festival was an attempt to unveil new global artistic work in the field of theatre.”  He also looks at it as a catalyst for the setting up of the Indian National Institute of International Theatre-UNESCO – a learning organization that theatre-makers in India can look forward to hearing more about in 2017.

Poster for Day 2 Of IAPAR’S International Theatre Festival (pc IAPAR)
Poster for Day 2 Of IAPAR’s International Theatre Festival (pc IAPAR)

Paying our Respects

Indian theatre lost 3 greatly-revered thespians this year-Heisnam Kanhailal, Sulbha Deshpande and Kavalam Narayana Panicker.

Sulabha Deshpande, veteran actor of Indian theatre and cinema passed away on the 4th of June last year. She started her career onstage in the 1960’s and founded Awishkar in 1971 with her husband Arvind Deshpande. Awishkar continues to be a vital platform for new writing and new thought in theatre even today. Dramatist and poet Padma Bhushan Kavalam Narayana Panicker passes away on 26th June. He penned more than 25 Malyalam plays. He is also credited with reviving the oldest theatre-dance form of India, Kudiyattam. Heisnam Kanhailal was the founder-director of Kalakshetra Manipur. He passed away on the 6th October in 2016. Kalakshetra Manipur celebrates silence and minimalism as source of creative strength. For Kanhailal this was always a medium to speak to the political, cultural and linguistic exclusion of the North-Eastern states. As we enter 2017, let us not forget how these individuals illuminated theatre through their work onstage and off it.

Elsewhere

Women take over Shakespeare

In 2012, director Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female production of Julius Caesar placed the story of the Roman general in a women’s prison. In 2014, Llyod reunited with actor Harriet Walter for Henry IV, the second installment in what was then announced as the ‘Shakespeare Trilogy‘. The trilogy was completed in 2016 with the opening of the Tempest at the Kings Cross Theatre in London. On the Donmar Warehouse YouTube channel Llyod describes her revolutionary step towards completely handing over the masculine energies of the Bard’s plays to the female, as an act of “getting women out of the ‘romantic’ and ‘domestic’.” This is evident when in the same clip theatre stalwart Harriet Walter, who stars in all three productions, claims that the plays “allow women to tackle things that they normally don’t get to tackle – power, conflict and philosophy, the big ideas that Shakespeare practically doesn’t ever give to women.”

 

Harriet Walter as Brutus in Julius Caesar
Harriet Walter as Brutus in Julius Caesar

 

Actor-Chorus-Text: Reinventing Stagecraft

MOON FOOL – International Music And Theatre Exchange is currently in the process of making their third production in physical theatre called STORM. The performance will premiere at The Vaults, London in June 2017. What distinguishes STORM from other forms of experimental physical theatre is that its actors will be trained in ACT, devised by Anna-Helena Mclean, founder of MOON FOOL. ACT stands for Actor-Chorus-Text, an original approach to generating ensemble theatre productions that interweave music, movement and poetry in telling stories, while reinventing the use of space. The training is applied to an exploration of archetypes in stories from around the world, particularly those from classical texts such as Shakespeare and the Ancient Greeks to generate original ensemble works of theatre. Mclean has conducted several ACT workshops in India as well and it would do well for theatre-makers to keep an eye out for one in 2017.

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Poster for MOON FOOL’s STORM

 

Look out! Artists are watching

Few things have upset the liberal world as much as the recent American presidential elections. And artists, as custodians of that liberty, have chosen to answer the imbalance in various ways. On 19th November this year, the cast of Hamilton: An American Musical addressed Mike Pence – U.S.A.’s Vice President elect – who was attending a performance of the award-winning show that just happens to celebrates America’s founding father and it’s notion of liberty, equality and fraternity. Actor Victor Brandon Dixon who plays the character of Aaron Burr in the play made the address, during the curtain call. He said, “We, sir, we are the diverse America who are alarmed and anxious that your new administration will not protect us, our planet, our children, our parents, or defend us and uphold our inalienable rights, sir. But we truly hope this show has inspired you to uphold our American values and to work on behalf of us, all of us.” In a world increasingly threatened by regimes of indifference, 2016 could not have showcased the role of the artist in public discourse any better. Here’s the entire moment as caught by an audience member at the show.

 

So, as we race in 2017, as theatre-makers, artists, individuals, citizens of this world, let us not forget the year that we have been through and the responsibilities we carry with us into this brave, new world.

– Researched and written by Payal Mohta (Writer for The Drama School Mumbai)

 

 

 

 


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.


2 Day Intensive Workshop in Fitzmaurice Voicework with Sara Matchett

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Sara Matchett comes down to the DSM this January!

The Drama School Mumbai is delighted to bring Sara Matchett back to Mumbai! Sara is a senior lecturer at the Department of Drama, University of Cape Town, and associate teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework. She will conduct a two day long, intensive voice training workshop at the DSM this January.

Fitzmaurice Voicework is an unique system of theatre voice practice that integrates Euro-American voice training methods with adaptations of somatic body work including yoga, bioenergetics and shiatsu. The system is divided into two main components: Destructuring and Restructuring. Destructuring refers to a series of physical positions that are used to encourage the breath and voice to be free from habitual tensions, allowing for the discovery of a more authentic and spontaneous vocal expression. In Restructuring, this spontaneous and sometimes chaotic expression is channeled into a healthy voice that is free from tension, and is flexible, focused and emotionally connected.

The breath is investigated as the impulse as well as thread that connects body, voice, imagination and language. This ultimately serves to enhance the live sensorial presence of the performer in relation to themselves, their fellow performers and to the audience.

Sara Matchett’s teaching profile centres around practical and academic courses which include, voice, acting, theatre-making, applied drama/theatre, and performance analysis. She is presently completing her PhD at the University of Cape Town where her study aims to investigate the soma, the relation between breath and emotion and breath and image, in an attempt to make performance that is inspired by a biography of the body. She is also the co-founder and artistic director of The Mothertongue Project which focuses on women’s theatre with particular reference to cross-community professional theatre, as a means of facilitating conversations across differences. Her most recent work with The Mothertongue Project, is Walk: South Africa, which was made in conversation with Maya Krishna Rao’s Walk. The performance is a response to rape culture and violence against women. Walk:South Africa will be performed at the VIFA in Bhopal.

Date: 19th and 20th January

Time: 8am to 2pm

Cost: 4500/-

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

To apply for this 2 day intensive training, email your updated CV to info@thedramaschoolmumbai.in with a cover letter explaining your reasons for applying. For more information or for any queries write into info@thedramaschoolmumbai.in.


Weekend Acting Programme with Shruti Sridharan

 

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The Weekend Acting Programme is for theatre enthusiasts, who want to use theatre techniques in their respective areas or professions. So whether you are a teacher looking to understand how to hold a class’ attention or a corporate looking to amp up on those presentation skills or simply someone looking for a more engaging way to spend your weekends – this workshop could be your ticket to a better you! The structure of the workshop is designed to ease beginners into key skills for both private and professional life. Though the workshop aims at self-improvement, there will be an emphasis on good storytelling and aesthetics.

Week 1: Look at ourselves –  physically, vocally, emotionally

Week 2: Look at how we got to where we are

Week 3: Take on a character to understand what it is like to be another person

Week 4: Comfort zones and how to work outside them and Final performances.

This January, the Weekend Acting Programme will be facilitated by Shruti Sridharan. She has an M.A. in Theatre from the Academy of Theatre Arts, University of Mumbai. She has performed under the direction of various stalwarts of theatre. Some notable performances include Madhavi with K.S. Rajendran,  Mashirq-I-Hoor with Hema Singh and Insulting The Audience with Rehaan Engineer. Shruit was nominated for best supporting actress at Thespo for her role in Aashad Ka Ek Din directed by Chandan Roy Sanyal.

She has spent three years working as a drama instructor with Theatre Professionals and recently finished a two and a half year stint with Steps Drama, a drama-based corporate learning and development consultancy. She last performed in QTP’s White Rabbit Red Rabbit – a critically acclaimed play by Iranian playwright Nassim Soleimanpour.

Dates:  7th, 8th ,14th, 15th ,21st, 22nd , 28th and 29th  January

Cost: Rs. 8000

Venue: 3rd & 5th Floor, Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh, Dr Bhalerao Marg, Charni Road Kele Wadi, Mumbai-400002

To register for the Workshop, do fill in this form. For more information or for any queries write into info@thedramaschoolmumbai.in.

 


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

 

 

 


Foundation Skills in Acting: A Workshop with Deshik Vansadia

“Acting is an everlasting search for truth”

– Laurence Olivier

(Legendary British Thespian and first Director of the National Theatre, London)

 

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               Participants at a past Foundation Skills in Acting workshop

Acting is has been described variously as an art, a craft, a reaction and a state of being. At the DSM we believe, acting, indeed drama as a whole, is a function of doing. And hence our Foundation Skills in Acting workshops focus on practical approaches to character and stagework. These workshops are held 3 to 4 times in a year and conducted each time by well-trained, experienced actors. The first in the series this year was conducted by Shruti Mishra. It took participants through the exercises of Jacques Lecoq in order to facilitate a discovery of core areas of acting: movement, voice and the development of strong performance by understanding dramatic texts. Then we had Neeraj Shirvaikar who brought the characterization sensibilities of Theatre of Cruelty to the floor.

This time round,  Deshik Vansadia (Stella Adler Academy of Acting, Shakespeare & Company) brings his passion for Shakespeare to The Drama School, Mumbai to deliver Foundation Skills in Acting.

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    Deshik (first from the left) in action during a rehearsal of Hamlet for radio

Deshik has played various parts in the plays of Shakespeare in India and abroad – the most notable being Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Clotten in Cymbeline and Angelo in Measure for Measure. He has directed and performed in radio plays for All India Radio. In Mumbai, his performances in The Boy who stopped Smiling and Dhara ki Kahani have received much acclaim. Read more about Deshik’s efforts to bring Shakespeare alive for a contemporary audience in India here.

deshik-fsa

Key Workshop Takeaways:

  • Acting is doing. Not feeling. Not showing  
  • How to live in the space
  • Brewing down the script to playable actions
  • Shedding inhibitions and making way for the truth

Dates: 12th-16th December    | Time: 6.30pm – 9.30pm   | Fees: Rs.  5000/-

Venue: 5th floor, Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh, Girgaon, Charni Road East, Mumbai.

To register for the workshop, fill in this form right away!


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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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