Acting Shakespeare: Two-Day Intensive Workshop with Paul Goodwin

 

The Course Director for MA in Acting at the Drama Centre London, Paul Goodwin, brings decades of experience and expertise on Shakespeare and acting for Shakespeare to India. The Drama School Mumbai has managed to get a couple of dates from the man and arranged a workshop on Acting Shakespeare.

The 2-Day intensive workshop will delve into the various aspects of voice, breathing, movement, and the verses that will help an actor unlock his true potential in Shakespearean acting.

The workshop will be held on the 13th and the 14th July 2017, from 8 am to 1 pm.

About the Instructor
Paul Goodwin
Course Director, MA Acting at Drama Centre London
MA in Voice Studies, Central School of Speech and Drama
Artistic Director, The Shakespeare Edit (a classical theatre company), London

Paul has been teaching and directing Shakespeare for professional actors and students for more than 30 years. He is the Course Director at the Drama Centre London, alumni of which include: Tom Hardy, Michael Fassbender, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan and Emilia Clarke, to name a few. Prior to the Drama Centre, Paul has worked extensively in Text, Voice and Artist Development at the Royal Shakespeare Company. He is currently working on directing a dramatised version of Shakespeare’s narrative poem – LUCRECE, to be performed in London as well as a production of Twelfth Night at the Vakhtangov school in Moscow

Workshop Takeaways
Open and widen the horizon of the voice and the imagination.
Find the impulse for breath and vocal and physical gesture.
Be free to play within fully explored verse structures.
Use practical tools to unlock Shakespeare for you as an actor

Workshop Structure
Day One: You will be given a piece of Shakespearean text, and through a series of practical exercises explore – through the body, voice and rhythm – the clues that are contained in the text, that lead towards an understanding that can then be communicated to the audience through a soliloquy.

Day Two: Building on the exploratory text work from Day one, you will work on a scene, and with a partner, explore the action in the scene. What characters want, and how, as in life, character is revealed through action. “Suit the action to the word, the word to the action” Hamlet’s advice to the players

Through this 2 day workshop, you will gain practical tools that will unlock Shakespeare for you as an actor, and provide you with a working method that will allow you to be more confident when you approach heightened poetic drama.

Dates: 13th and 14th July | Time: 8 am to 1 pm
Venue: Bhalerao Auditorium, Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh, Girgaon, Charni Road East, Mumbai.
Fees: ₹4500/-

To Apply :
To Apply : Email a recent C.V. with a cover letter that tells us why you want to participate to info@thedramaschoolmumbai.in

www.thedramaschoolmumbai.in
facebook/TheDramaSchoolMumbai
+91 9619336336


Aadyant 2017 - Not the end, but the beginning

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


The Curious Case of a Farmer/Writer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Documenting Theatre in India: Research in to Theatre Lives

by Zohra Malik

 

How much do we really know theatre and theatre-makers in India? Documenting theatre is vital. Yet, a casual Google search in all likelihood will yield little documenting of solid value.  Research & Praxis is such a vital strand of the programme at the DSM because it addresses this imbalance. It also embeds students in the living culture of theatre-making and encourages them to document, research and record the work of numerous individuals who stand at the edge of the spotlight.

Ramu Ramanthan – writer, respected journalist, playwright and mentor – developed this research module. He trains students in research methodologies, helping them create strategies to document as well as represent these lives as they occur and their relation to theatre practice today.

Batch 2016-17 decided to shine a light on the lives and practices of the following individuals:

 

Ramdas Padhye

Ventriloquist, Puppeteer, Puppet-maker

Researcher: Abhishek Chauhan

Ramdas Padhye and his creations

 

Ramdas Padhye was one of the first people to create puppets with contemporary Indian identities. As a child, Padhye was consistently disassembling and reassembling toys. Encouraged by his father, who was also a well-known magician and puppeteer, Padhye went on to do engineering. He then took to puppetry in order to talk about small big problems of India’s middle class  – family planning, saving money and education. Though, Padhye’s work has been featured across the globe,

 

Faezeh Jalali

Actor, Director, Theatre-maker

Researcher: Chrisann Pereira

Faezeh Jalali and a scene (left) from her META award-winning play 07/07/07

 

Faezeh Jalali is certainly not an unknown name. Her recent productions – 07/07/07 and Shikhandi have got audiences and critics alike raving. But Chrisann’s research looks at her directorial style from the perspective of a student of the art. It focuses on the aesthetic values that guide her work but also on how everyone on stage behaves in a certain way for a reason.

 

Chetna Mehrotra

Image Expression Artist, Drama Based Learning Facilitator, Dance Drama Storyteller

Researcher: Deepmala Khera

Chetna Mehrotra and the multiple roles she plays

Chetna Mehrotra has an incredible amount of experience in applied theatre – which applies principles of the performance space to the enable transformation of individuals, communities and society at large. Mehrotra’s work stems from the belief that theatre is not just to entertain but a medium to empower and to evolve. She is one of the leading practitioners in this emerging field and works extensively in learning & development, therapy and training. Knowing of her work and of others like her is vital to many of us who often restrict the scope of theatre to the stage.

 

Utpal Bhayani

Journalist, Theatre Critic

Researcher: Khushbu Baid

The career and contribution of Utpal Bhayani, one of the foremost authorities on Gujarati theatre. He has written several papers and critiqued Gujarati theatre extensively for about forty years or so, thus providing a fresh new perspective to the way one sees this regional form of theatre. His words and his influence are still relevant and ever-present to this day, as Utpal Bhayani continues to write a column for the Gujarati newspaper, Janmabhumi. Research and documenting of Utpal Bhayani’s work tells us  how  to critically appreciate theatre. It also holds the mirror up to the evolution of culture through movements on stage.

 

Manav Kaul

Theatre director, Playwright, Actor, Film-maker

Researcher: Komal Khanna

Manav Kaul, the man, his moods and his roles

You may recognise him from the various films he has been a part of, but Manav Kaul has been a significant contributor to the development of theatre in India. Komal’s compilation of anecdotes from his life (what better way to get to know a man and his practice) cover everything from his beginnings in Kashmir, the growing camaraderie between him and Kumud Mishra and the moment he realised that theatre was what he wanted to do. His writing, his process, his fascination with the bizarre and his response to criticism, all come together to inspire those who have just begun wading in to the deep waters of the performing arts.

 

Dr Arvind Ganachari

Historian

Researcher: Adarsh Gourav

Dr Ganachari is a noted scholar, specialising in Modern Indian History.  He wrote highly insightful pieces on India’s socio-economic and cultural history for the Economic and Political Weekly magazine.  He guided Adarsh through a discovery of political and moral censorship in Indian performing arts. According to him, “Although there is much debate about censorship attacking the fundamental right of “freedom of speech”, it is necessary and has to be there. Every freedom has a limit. A person has freedom and has their rights but if it infringes upon somebody else’s right or freedom,censorship comes into use. It is a very thin line.”

 

Deepa Gahlot

Theatre and film critic, Author, Scriptwriter

Researcher: Shruti Khandelwal

Deepa Gahlot at the NCPA

If you have seen a show at the NCPA, Mumbai, you’ve experienced Deepa Gahlot’s vision for theatre. She is the Head of Programming at the NCPA and has also translated and adapted several works for stage. Her critical writings not only display an awareness of the technicalities but also a certain esoteric knowledge that only those who are completely in tune with their field of expertise possess. Shruti’s research focuses on Gahlot’s propensity for promoting critical dialogue around the performing arts.

 

Arun Naik

Editor, Theatre critic, Translator, Teacher, Director, Designer, Columnist

Researcher: Shruti Sunder

Arun Naik and his family carry on the legacy of theatre

 

Arun Naik has had a massively versatile career in theatre for the past forty years. He has directed critically acclaimed pieces of theatre and contributed to The Oxford Companion to Theatre in India. Through him we can track the history of the resurgence of Marathi theatre and the integral role of the Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh in the city’s performance culture.

 

Sunderlal Shyamlal Valmiki aka Sunder Chacha

Caretaker (Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh)

Researcher: V. Vidyuth

Sunder Chacha, home at the MMSS

It seems fitting to close this little list of theatre lives with Sunder chacha. Apart from having achieved some amazing theatrical feats, Sunder chacha has been a caretaker of the Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh for over 40 years. Vidyuth, as a researcher, makes a cogent point that while there are those who contribute to theatre in a more creative capacity, it’s also necessary to appreciate the ones who’ve helped preserve it for so many years. Not only has Sunder chacha taken care of one of Mumbai’s oldest theatre spaces, he has (and continues to do so even today) helped build sets, set up lights and sound and managed backstage processes.

 

These final projects are essentially profiles of very diverse individuals; names we need to remember, names we need to learn from as makers and consumers of theatre. Each of these lives builds the larger picture of the context, history and social reality of theatre. This research is a responsibility that students have been accepting as part of their education for the past 4 years. It tells the story of a city, its long tradition of theatre and it also tells a story of how theatre continues to grow into what it is today. And it is vital that we all, not only understand but also contribute to the research and documenting of these strands.


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


The "Paraya" who became a playwright

Conversation @theDSM: Shafaat Khan with Akshay Shimpi

by Gaurangi Dang

 

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

In all this lay “drama”.

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

This was the story within a story within a story.

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

He eventually went on to become a cult playwright.

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

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

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

Something clicked inside Khan’s brain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


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

 


Conversations@theDSM: Shafat Khan and Akshay Shimpi

 

For the second session, we have chosen the journey of Experimental theatre from Chhabildas movement to theatre in intimate spaces as the topic of discussion. It will also shed light upon the theatre across the world, how the scene is changing from the perspective of playwrights.

For this discussion, we have veteran Marathi playwright and theatre director Shafat Khan who will be interviewed by actor Akshay Shimpi, who also happens to be a faculty at the DSM.

Experimental theatre has grown and has experimented with itself over time. From the first sessions in the halls of Chhabildas High school to rehearsals and performances in specially built, intimate performance spaces. From handling socially aware topics to exploring movement and performance, the experimental theatre has come a long way. Witnessing this growth was Shafat Khan, while being an active part of that movement. He has written and directed Marathi plays over decades and seen the growth and the change of experimental theatre.

About Shafat Khan

Shafat Khan is a veteran writer and director for the Marathi stage and is renowned for powerful, engrossing plays like Mumbaiche Kavle and Shobhayatra. His approach to writing for the stage is an inspired and meticulous one.

His plays include Kisse, Policenama, Gandhi Aadva Yeto, Popatpanchi and Dry-Day.

Shafat Khan recently got awarded for his work by the Sangeet Akademi.

About Akshay Shimpi

Akshay Shimpi is an actor, a theatre graduate, and is currently working as a faculty member at the Drama School, Mumbai.

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: 13th May 2017
Time: 5 pm
Venue: 5th floor, Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh, Kele Wadi, Girgaon, Charni Road East, Mumbai 400004.