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 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:

For more details, call 9619336336 / mail


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


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


Open Day Series: The DSM comes to your city!

Want to make theatre your career? Well, look no further, because the DSM Open Day Series is HERE!

Get a chance to experience world-class training and know more about the Post Graduate Diploma in Acting and Theatre-making at The Drama School Mumbai during its Open Day Series which travels to 7 cities across the next 2 months. Here leading theatre-makers, who also happen to be DSM faculty, will show you what students at the school are taught as a part of their training. This is an excellent opportunity for you to witness first hand what makes learning at The Drama School Mumbai the best stepping stone for a bright career in theatre.

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

The Open Day campaign kicks off on the 11th of March with free workshops in Mumbai and Bangalore. If you’re in Mumbai, you have the opportunity to get 2 free sessions by Akshay Shimpi and Roo Jhala-Mclaughlin.

Akshay Shimpi is an alumni of the University of Mumbai Theatre Arts Department and has performed in various plays and short films. Roo graduated from the Oxford School of Drama, UK and specializes in Shakespeare and Theatre-in-Education. These are two workshops that will leave you breathless yet self-aware!


In Bangalore, the co-founder and co-convenor of The Drama School Mumbai himself is coming down to bring the rigour and intensity of the school through a 3 hour workshop in the foyer space of Ranga Shankara. Jehan, a Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee, has his Masters in Theatre Direction from Birkbeck, University of London. You can explore the idea of creating meaning onstage through moments of action with Jehan and also talk to him about how exactly does someone become a theatre professional in India. 

Sign up for these right away, because these workshops do tend to fill up real fast! And if you can’t make it to Bangalore or Mumbai on the 11th, get in touch anyway and we’ll keep you posted about the next Open Day closest to you. Also, if you’d like to arrange for an open day in your city, drop us a line and we’ll do our best to work something out for you.

Call +919619336336 to block a spot right away!


The Mule's Fuel: Meet the ladies behind the scene

Over the past few months a synchronized cacophony had taken over The Drama School Mumbai. The noisemakers do bear a grudging resemblance to the students of the DSM however, and the source of their choral equivocations is the DSM annual student production.

This year round, the students take on The Mule’s Foal, a play adapted by Alan Becher from an award-winning novel by Fotini Epanomitis – a story about families, love and the eternal joy of gossip.

The play opened to some serious bouts of hilarity on the 4th of March and gave us the opportunity to profile the women who have been working tirelessly for weeks to make it happen – Sheena Khalid and Puja Sarup the co-directors of the work and Sonal Kharade, the designing hand behind the curious costumes the students don for the show.

Puja Sarup and Sheena Khalid

Sheena and Puja’s Mumbai-based theatre company Patchworks Ensemble is known to tackle the big issues through the funny bone. The company’s first production Ila based on a story by Devdutt Pattanaik is about a King who transforms into a female with the changing phases of the moon, while their outrageously entertaining Gentleman’s Club aka Tape explores drag kings of a fictional underground club in Mumbai. This narrative about negotiations with gender is also present in The Mule’s Foal, but Puja and Sheena don’t choose projects to make ‘statements’, it’s always the story that attracts them first. And for The Mule’s Foal, it wasn’t just the story, but the poetic spaces present in it. “These spaces are not about the profound monologues uttered, but the human moments in the play” says Puja, “and in the sheer velocity of lives that it depicts,” adds Sheena.

They believe in working with their actors as facilitators- allowing them to develop the project as much as perform it. “When one does devised work, one does not know where to attack. So we use a lot of movement and music as our basic starting point. In this way we first put it into the body before feeding on the text,” says Sheena. Despite the anecdotal nature of The Mule’s Foal, the directors initiated the DSM students into the play through the bodywork of its chorus before deconstructing its language. Even the script of the play, which has been translated into Hindi by Neha Sharma, is continuously being written and and re-written by the directors and students during rehearsals. “It is  only on the floor that the rhythm of the scene can be known, where to pump it or chop it…” says Puja before demonstrating her point by fixing an imaginary machine with loose screws with her being the technician and the tool (with a complete audio soundtrack.)  

The Mule’s Foal is the first production in which the duo have worked with actors-in-training.

When asked about this experience Sheena says, “The DSM students are very committed. When you come to a professional environment you are most probably working on multiple plays. But in drama school you are pushing yourself harder and longer for a single production. The directors feel they have learnt a lot from their students including how to squawk like a crow, and perfectionists that they are, they make multiple attempts to hit the right note while squawking for this interviewer’s benefit .  

Sheena Khalid is a graduate of the London International School of Performing Arts and Puja from the Helikos International School of Theatre, Italy find theatre rewarding in all ways. Narrating an anecdote Puja says,“The first character that I played professionally on stage was of a blonde bimbo in Atul Kumar’s “Noises Off.” If the same part was for the screen, I would not have fit in. Theatre is the only space you can play anything and everything.”

When asked about the challenges of doing theatre as women Khalid explains, “I don’t think I can ever over-emphasize on how much of a community sense there is in theatre, that does not discriminate against gender at all, as opposed to other spaces of work. We have always had help.” She bangs the wooden table in front of her thrice for good luck.

It was in 2011 that Puja and Sheena first met at a Bunraku Puppet workshop and discovered a possibility for a collaboration. When asked what keeps them ‘patched’ together Sarup answers, “Our collective madness and desire to take risks with our work.” Then after a moment of retrospection, “Also I wouldn’t have done this on my own. Its way too much work.” 

“Way too much thankless work,” adds Sheena with a laugh.  

Sonal Kharade (Image: Maneesh Verma)

For Sonal Kharade the costume designer of The Mule’s Foal, working with the directors is familiar territory, having been part of their production It’s About Time which opened at NCPA’s Centrestage last December. “I love working with them,” says Sonal, “Woh dono kuch seedha nahi karte hai!” For the “bizarre” look of The Mule’s Foal she has gathered Turkish and Tribal prints of surrealistic vibrancy, that look straight out of a bohemian boutique. “Theatre has tight budgets but I like that challenge,” she says and reveals the location of her material sourcing – the lanes and bylanes of local markets like Mangaldas and Saroj in the city.  

Sonal’s career as a costume designer had been accidental. A student of interior designing, she just loved being part of the production process in theatre. In 2009, when the costume designer of Geetanjali Kulkarni’s Ek Rikami Baju decided to quit the show mid-way, Sonal who was helping with the play was asked to fill in those shoes. The response to her work was so well appreciated that she went on to do more such projects. Today she designs costumes for several theatre companies in Mumbai and Pune including for directors like Manav Kaul and and Atul Kumar.

Sonal’s costumes come to life in The Mule’s Foal

Sonal admits that as she had not formally studied costume designing understanding different body types was initially difficult for her. “I have learnt everything on the job,”she says. It is with this learned on-ground sense of aesthetics that she creates costumes like the blood red anarkali for Sanjukta Wagh, which was worn by the Kathak dancer on an outdoor stage against the backdrop of the sea. The New York Times described it as the most “ravishing outfit” of that evening at The Battery Dance Festival in New York.  

Though Kharade works for commercials and films alongside theatre projects she finds the latter more fulfilling. “The actor spends so much time in his garment that one has to concentrate much more on its detailing and comfort,” she says while checking the stitching of a bold pink costume that  opens up to form a dull grey piece, for a character in the play who has a  dual role.  

Puja, Sheena and Sonal have made the DSM student production into a piece of theatre that demands attention and provokes laughter in the midst of misery. They have of course been supported by a stellar team and the enthusiasm of the DSM students. The Mule’s Foal goes on tour this week, so do catch a show near you through March and April.

 – Written by Payal Mohta


Rooted: The Story of India's Rural Theatre

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



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

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Nageen Tanvir in rehearsal with artists of Naya Theatre




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

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

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




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

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

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Ninasam at Heggodu, Karnataka




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




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

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

Shadows of Fire: NaireetBasak@theDSM

Shadows Of Fire 1

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

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

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

Date: 25th Feb

Time: 7 PM

Cost: Rs 200/- per ticket

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

Call 9619336336 for details

2 Day Intensive Workshop in Corporeal Mime with Vini Carvalho

Vini Carvalho in action

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


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

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

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

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

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

Date: 16th and 17th February

Time: 8 am to 2 pm

Fee: Rs 4500

Venue: Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh,

Dr Bhalerao Marg,

Charni Road Kele Wadi,


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

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.


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!

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.


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.

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

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 with a cover letter explaining your reasons for applying. For more information or for any queries write into