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A Note from Team Thespo The idea of Thespo Ink emerged out of the need to combat the meagre amount of writing that is available on theatre and its allied arts. We believe we are living in exciting times which are conducive to the creation of new work by young practitioners of theatre but there exists a lack of good writing to support their work. Today, theatre does manage to generate curiosity amongst wide-eyed youngsters curious about all that theatre has to offer them.That said, there isn’t an easily available source to turn to, to cultivate that curiosity into a better awareness of the medium.To be able to rejoice in the space theatre gives you to learn and to explore the world and yourself. Thespo Ink is a small step towards creating a gateway to that world of innovation and wonder. The first edition brings to you stories from a younger theatre of opportunities, dreams and ideas. We would like to thank Soham Majumdar from Mad About Drama, Kolkata ; Abhishek Pattnaik of Out of the Box productions, Amrisha Sinha, Revati Deshpande,Ilina Acharya, Josephine Joy and Arghya Lahiri for unquestioningly whacking drafts together and sharing their stories and opinions with our readers.


DIALOGUE : All Things MAD

BUDDING ARTISTS : Being Heard

MEMOIR : The Flight : Thinking Out of the Box A YOUNG PERSPECTIVE : 5 Survival tips for being a Young Female Director THESPO : WHAT’S ON

THESPO RECOMMENDS : Plays to Read

ABOUT THESPO


DIALOGUE

All things MAD Soham Majumdar shares with Revati Deshpande, the story of a bunch of passionate, young students in the City of Joy who went against all odds to realise their dreams to eat, breathe and live theatre.

Sohum Majumdar (co-founder)

How and when did M.A.D start off? It was the December of 2011. Three very young guys, Soham Majumdar, Soumya Mukherji and Soumendra Bhattacharya were in their first years of college and were equally fascinated by the newfound campus cocktail of student politics, love and of course weed (loads of it) But there was one thing they really

missed from their schooldays, their shared love for theatre had no place in campus lives because of the lack of a proper cross college dramatics society. They decided to something concrete instead of just sitting back and reminiscing about “old days�, they decided to enroll for a national street play competition. But one of the basic demands for the competition was a team of at least ten odd members. Thus began the search for like minded people, and soon enough they had landed up with seven other equally crazy people who were ready to work together for a production! And since the only connecting link between these drastically different set of budding thespians was insanity, it was but natural that decided on the name M.A.D!

What were some big hurdles you faced initially and how did you overcome them? Some of the biggest hurdles initially were a) Doing a proper public show. Kolkata has a huge problem of limited theatre spaces. And as a group of essentially newcomers in theatre, government halls were impossible to get. Private halls were either


expensive or dates were difficult to get because groups had booked them in bulk. So the only option was to go for competitions and college fests initially. But gradually we worked around a very sustainable and innovative business model which helped us in organizing our very own public show within months! b) Too many people were interested in joining us for the heck of it and very few were interested in working their asses out. The filtering was a long drawn process, and the number of members who wore theatre like a fashionable tattoo on their sleeves were too many. Gradually we managed to narrow it down to people who would risk every thing just to ensure that a prop is in place or the auditorium taxes are paid in time!

Who are some of your influences and are there any theater contemporaries in Kolkata or otherwise that have inspired your own work? I will try and give a cohesive list! a) When we started out, we really looked upto Tin can. They were a young group, just like us, and had spearheaded the youth theatre “movement” in the city if you can call it that. Their productions “video” and “intro” were literally theatre for the MTV generation. And though had disbanded way before we were formed, this was one group we really could relate in terms of wavelength and overall ambition. b) The Bengali group theatre scenario kind of

A scene from a Play by M.A.D

alienated us because of it’s same old hackneyed formula and content and treatment that failed to acknowledge the times. However, there has been directors and playwrights who have really managed to teach and inspire us because they had the “spark” that made them stand out in the crowd of the so called stalwarts of Bangla theatre. They are Suman Mukhopadhyay, Kaushik Sen, Chandan Sen and Bratya Basu! We had a brief chance of working


with legendary lights designer Joy sen who recently passed away and in our initial days, Chandan da (Sen) helped us a lot. Though we have often criticized their theatre, we have tremendous love and respect for these few people. c) If there’s one man, who’s theatre has really inspired us to perform better plays, it;s Anjan Dutta! He decided to return to theatre a few years ago, and ever since then he has gifted the city international standard and “young at heart” Brecht productions. His ruthless energy and unmatched international treatment has always taken our hearts by storm.

Admit One hosted by NLSIU. And there’s of course Thespo, the best there is in terms of getting your work screened and if not anything else, get really useful and coherent feedback. There are festivals like Short+sweet which really pushes even amateur groups to up their game, One constantly has to be on the lookout for quality platforms.

d) The list of other influences are aplenty. We were blown away by Natak Company when we saw them in Thespo. We have only encountered their theatre in recorded form, but Complicite and Simon Mcburney really inspires us to push our boundaries. Same goes for the contemporary directors in national theatre and Royal Shakespeare company! And younger directors like Thomas Ostermeier who have staged their productions in the city.

What are some of the best platforms you’ve used to showcase your work that you would also recommend to amateur artists? Competitions like Channel V Indiafest is a great place to start since it pits you against national contenders! The same goes for the bigger college fests like IIT KGP’s springfest or specific theatre contests like

Poster of ‘A Good Play’

What are the themes you have previously worked on and would like to work on in the future and is there any specific reason behind it?


The choice of themes are not really conscious, just that we believe there’s a right time for every play. And if there;’s something we feel that should be spoken about at that moment, that somehow gradually becomes the idea for our next play. And the choice of themes are always keeping in mind that we need to ensure variety and really challenge and push ourselves as artists.

A scene from the play ‘With Love Calcutta’

Our themes have been extremely varied. We initially dabbled in a psychological thriller called seven deaths and a funeral, then we moved on to a light hearted play about our situation as a youth theatre group, a play within a play called a good play. The next production was an adaptation of Bertolt Brecht’s Arturo Ui, we felt that the time was right to reinterpret the classic as C.H.U.T.I.Y.A. Then came With Love, Calcutta a vignette of short plays set against the backdrop of the city we grew up in, our way of paying a tribute to the city through it’s own heartwarming stories. And presently we are touring with Codename:SRK, an out and out comedy which talks about the story of three Bengali filmmakers in big, bad bollywood.

The Madhouse Project initiative


What are some other initiatives you’ve taken in the field to encourage theater culture? We have an ongoing project called the Madhouse project through which we try to encourage new groups to come up and stage their plays in a platform/festival we specifically design for them. We try to take them through the entire process of organizing and staging a public show. As a part of the project, we also undertake regular workshops, which are extremely interactive and focus less on training/mentoring and more on creating self sufficient young thespians. We also encourage and promote alternative and non proscenium spaces by constantly designing and staging site specific plays. We have regular programmes in our timeline to encourage the formation of cross school and cross college theatre groups and we have an active internship programme through which we introduce young people to how a professional theatre company works.

c) Produce good theatre and organize regular festivals, workshops and shows to showcase new, innovative work. d) Bridge the gap between the elderly bangle theatre audience and the young college crowd who are not used to theatre.

Where do you see yourself headed and what do you hope to achieve with your team in the future? a) Make theatre specifically and performing arts in general a sustainable and full time profession for young people b) Create, curate and maintain alternative performance arts spaces.

‘A Good Play’ at Thespo 14 (2012)


Sohum Majumdar’s

5) Favorite stage to perform on

QUICK 8

Prithvi Theatre. That stage can bloody change lives, we swear.

1) First play you ever watched

6) Favorite genre of theatre

It’s really hard to tell since our quintessential Bengali parents dragged us to theatre auditoriums from an early age. Vague memories.

Everything looks and sounds better with the right dose of comedy. Not too much, not too less.

2) Best theatre adventure Chanda Dutta’s version of Bertolt Brecht’s Three Penny Opera, starring Anjan Dutta. Ruthless, raw and unadulterated, that was an unforgettable theatrical experience.

3) If you had the choice of meeting one theatre veteran, dead or alive, who would you choose Utpal Dutta. He was a “rockstar” back in his times.

4) Funniest goof up on stage In one of our first plays, an entire scene was so messed up that the dancer forgot his cue to enter. The actor on stage had to break character and literally loudly summon him to the stage!

7) Biggest theatre dream you hope to achieve Our very own active and fully functioning theatre space and a theatre startup that offers lucrative full time theatre jobs.

8) What sparked the drama in you - a defining moment when you decided you wanted to do theatre One of our first dreams as a group was making it to Thespo. And within one year of formation, we made it to Thespo Fringe in 2012. The happiness was unforgettable. We realized this is what we have always wanted to do.

Interviewed by Revati Deshpande

Revati is a student of Psychology and a talented actress who was part of a Play ‘The EQ’ which premiered at Thespo 15


BUDDING ARTISTS

Being Heard Reflections from an evening of politically charged, socially sensitive, poetic theatre

We often wonder where the world is headed. You read about yet another act of violence or a horrific sexual assault. Good old Justice often does not play his dutiful role. The blaring headlines ironically mute the voices of victims and the oppressed. Voices are strangled by the tangle of words on the front page, unable to touch and reach the masses, as one gets immune to the recurrence of tragic events. Space Theatre Ensemble has liberated these voices in their captivating performance “Voices from the Belly”. These voices can be heard - loud and clear, as they arise from the belly with full force, jolting one and all from complacency. Space Theatre Ensemble is a part of SPACE Goa, an initiative to spread the arts to young people. This ensemble strives to train and mentor youngsters in a manner that gives them the freedom to develop their own artistic voices, but also sensitises them to various social issues through the medium of the arts. The ensemble had started in order to spread awareness about the illegal mining in Goa and the destruction of the Western Ghats. Hartman de Souza, an actor, writer and director of SPACE Goa, shared

A scene from ‘Voices from the Belly’

with the audience that the Goans were not even aware of the mining that was taking place a mere 60km from where they were living. In an interview with NDTV, he further stated that we now live in an age where we constantly indulge ourselves with entertainment, living a life perpetually in front of a screen. This results in a lack of thought. He suggests that thoughtfulness and awareness can be achieved through art and the immediacy of theatre. This aim has been embodied clearly in their performance,


as they bring to the fore various social concerns that require attention. Space Theatre Ensemble comprises Andrea Pereira (26), Katheeja Talha (26), Rachana Rajan (25), Heidi Pereira (18) and Sugita Thangavelu (26). However “Voices from the Belly” was performed by only Andrea, Katheeja and Heidi. Out of the 79 days spent in New Delhi, the ensemble held 36 performances, at venues ranging from private spots like living rooms and terraces, to public spaces like parks, schools and colleges. This specific performance took place at a cosy basement in a house located at Panchsheel Park. The minimalistic setting-the bare stage, dim lighting, the simple costumes comprising just a black T-shirt and tights,

Hartman DeSouza

(Source : Google images)

The Space Theatre Ensemble

and the unassuming venue- amplified the impact and message of the play. The play consisted of a series of thematically linked poems. Music was an integral part of the performance as the ensemble set the poems to tune by singing and harmonising - creating a chorus which served the dual purpose of a musical score and a script. The ensemble synchronised the harmony of voices and the unity of the chorus, with bodily and abstract dance movements, making for a tight and crisp performance. This unique style drew one and all to listen to the voices that are usually left unheard, along with the wonderful confluence of music and poetry. The introductory piece set the theme of the play going. The poem, titled “Victim”, was written by the Spanish poet Marcos Ana, who was imprisoned for a


large part of his life. His poems reached the masses through oral transmission. The rendition of this poem was also an oral exercise and an invocation, as it was chanted simultaneously in two languages— English and Hindi. Those who knew both the languages could seamlessly move from one to the other, while those who were less familiar with either of the languages could treat the unknown language as a musical score, as Hartman suggested in his introduction to the piece. The same technique was also used while performing the poem “I still read” by Uma Narayan. The poem spoke about the defiance of a young woman in the face of societal impositions of tradition, and stereotypes associated with being a woman. The conflux of three languages—English, Hindi and Tamil, however, got confusing to the

The Space Theatre Ensemble performing at Cubbon Park, Ban

Andrea Johnson of the Space Theatre Ensemble performing at the Dissent Conference in September 2013 (Source: Kranti Reclaiming Dissent)

point that it was difficult to understand what the performers were saying. Perhaps the cacophony that gave the effect of a disconcerting sensation was deliberate so as to convey the struggles of being a woman in our patriarchal society. These


refrain “Warren Anderson aaram se chal base”, shedding light on the thousands who died and are still suffering, and well as questioning the justice system as Warren Anderson was never convicted. The ensemble also held an impromptu performance based on original material titled “Happy Birthday India” which spoke of the prejudices towards the LGBT community and religious minorities. This is not something unfamiliar but the satire and irony made it refreshing, compelling one to rethink and revisit them. The humour did not undermine the seriousness of the issue but only seemed to accentuate it. The intimate set up of the performance made it all the more engaging, with the director, Hartman, interacting and briefing the audience before the start of each piece. “Voices from the Belly” is a delightful collage of poetry, music, dance and theatre, forcing one to sit down and listen to the voices that have broken free in this intriguing performance.

ngalore

voices didn’t simply convey stories. They also used sarcasm, satire and irony which hit you even harder. The poem “Warren Anderson Rest in Peace” was a jibe at Warren Anderson, responsible for the Bhopal Gas Tragedy. The piece had the sarcastic

Ilina Acharya is a student of Sophia College for Women. She is an unassuming oddball and writes wonderful poems.


MEMOIR

Handmade masks used in the play - ‘Neev se Udaan Tak’. These masks represent the invisible masks children are made to put on to conform to societal pressures. Picture Courtesy : Arun Agnihotri (www.arunagnihotri.net)


The Flight The moment when you first realise the power of the medium of theatre to change your life is often life-changing in itself. Here is Amrisha’s story of her ‘first time’

Amrisha Sinha

part of this play loosened up some of the knots in our heads and muscles, especially when we came for practice.

In the world that we live in today, we are so busy analyzing our own pain, reviewing it again and again, that we become blind to other’s sufferings. Being a part of the play ‘Neev se Udaan Tak’ made me understand what it feels like when someone cares. Life in a boarding school can be very heady sometimes. Expectations from teachers, parents and friends are mutual for both, a boarding and a day school. But I feel that it is more so in a boarding school, seeing that you spend more time with your friends and teachers, away from family and hence, sometimes away from much-needed attention. Our school takes the Founder’s Day celebration very seriously. Classes stop and the entire school comes together to make the two-day-affair as perfect, entertaining and comfortable for the parents and guests as possible. With all the pressure from the teachers, this is a time when students are most frustrated, angry, pressurized and tired. Being a

When our director first came to school in November of last year, there was no script. When he came back in March, there was still no script. Instead, there was music. The play did not have any dialogues. It was birthed out of a series of workshops and a bank of experiences of the 30 young individuals who were chosen to be part of it. I feel a sense of melancholy when I think about the process we all went through to build the final production. The name of the play, “Neev Se Udaan Tak”, which translates into “From the Foundation to the Flight”, signifies the processes of growth that we young people go through. These process were represented on stage in seven parts. These were: Being, Life Stories, Threats, Awakening, Freedom (Coming Together) and Hope. I can hear the music from the tracks in my head as I write this. The workshop sessions, through which the final production was built had us bawling, screaming in anger and in fear, trying to shed our baggage and in the process bearing out our deepest fears, laughing


and learning something new each day. When we had just started with the workshop sessions, the concept of the play was relatively vague to all of us. We all knew it was different and not much else. But over time, we understood what the play and all of us stood for, collectively. I have never felt anything close to the bond that I share with each one of the individuals involved in this play. It was so strong that during each rehearsal, I felt a sense of comfort and understanding which was lacking outside of the rehearsal space. For us, entering that room every night was akin to stepping into another world, far away from the unimaginative classrooms and rigorous routines that comprise any school. I would anxiously await the rehearsals throughout the day and the suspense of what we were about to do that particular night would keep me on my toes. But it wasn’t always this way. In the beginning, it was awkward being in the same room with the other cast members some of who were seniors, which in a boarding school set-up amounts to a considerable amount of discomfort and insecurity. It was terribly scary, opening up to 29 other strangers, baring out our insecurities, our fears hidden under all those masks that every individual puts on everyday. We were all so skeptical of the others’ presence. What are they going to say? Who else are they going to tell? In time, each of us realized that all the others were going through the same nerve-wrecking feeling. They even reached out with a helping hand. No words, just a shoulder to cry on. The level of understanding that we built

Freedom


in a matter of two months is incredible and worth treasuring. The play brought us all together, tighter knit than ever. During one of the workshops, we were asked to share with everyone what the play meant to each of us. It led me to telling the group that - The youth over the world manifests a spark and sometimes the adults around try to extinguish it because they can’t accept the fact that there is someone who thinks differently and wants a change in the order they have come to be familiar with. But this is the first time that I have met someone (I was referring to our Arun Sir) who wants it to burn. Who feeds wood to the fire, who nurtures it. I am scared that the strength the play has given us will fade out. Sir looked at me and said - Take that as a threat. You and everyone in this room will have to overcome it. I am not going to be here to shelter you. I am going to go soon. You have to be strong and stubborn. Together, you are strong. Use that. Don’t let it die. I cannot forget those words. The culmination of the play has left me with an aching but a healing heart. It has left my mind fresh with growth but also with a realization of the ways of the world. I feel fortunate to have been a part of this play. I was sad, lost and yet strong enough to let go of it. I am sure that this experience and these memories will stay in my mind long after I have forgotten all others. For the first time, I felt determined to show everyone who I really am. In this beautiful bubble that we had


created, I felt that there was someone who actually cared to learn why I was hurting. That is why I have come to cherish these momentary but powerful memories that will show me the way when I am lost. Now, when I look at myself in the mirror, I am proud of what I am slowly becoming.

A talk session post the show

I’ll still think about those times, and maybe weep a little. But each time it will only make me stronger. I believe theatre can change lives. Amrisha Sinha studies in a boarding school in the Nilgiris, and is currently in the 10th grade.


MEMOIR

Thinking Out of the Box Abhishek Pattnaik

Out of the Box productions just completed their 25th show of Two Adorable Losers which is no mean feat for a young theatre group in a city where creativity and passion mean nothing without answering the question of sustainability. Abhishek tells us their story... Let’s get into theatre. Uh….But we don’t know anything about theatre! So let’s make a play about ourselves – People who don’t know anything about theatre. ‘Little did they know’ - our first play, was birthed out of that simplistic desire to plunge into the exciting world of theatre. We decided to name our company ‘Out of the Box Productions’. We soon learnt that theatre is about more than just writing, acting, direction, lights and set design but that there are many more elements involved in creating a play. The eagerness of being part of this dramatic world made us choose to throw ourselves right in the middle of the field and test our capabilities to the fullest. Of course we made mistakes but our inexperience also proved to be a strength. Four years later, things have changed. After having

read several plays, watching even more, meeting teachers with a background of literature and theatre, we have learnt a lot. There will always be scope for improvement but we are slowly getting familiar with this medium. Our last two plays ‘786’ and ‘Two adorable Losers’ have been a real morale booster for us. There was a time when we didn’t know whether we were good enough and neither did we have venues to perform. This led us to make the decision to enter ‘786’ for Thespo to prove to ourselves that we were worthy of being a successful theatre company. I can never forget the call I got from Murtuza, my director, when he broke the news to me of ‘786’ getting selected for Thespo 15. I had never known that kind of joy before. Step 1 had been accomplished! ‘786’ was followed by ‘Two adorable Losers’, our most well received production till date which


A scene from ‘Two Adorable Losers’


to give, how many shows to perform till we break even, how to approach schools and colleges- the list is endless. We even had to sit through sponsor meetings convincing them to recognise the value of the product and meeting their unusual demands. One sponsor wanted his name in the play and desperate times called for us to give in. A big learning in these years has been that passion is great but it goes hand in hand with practicality. This led us to cut down on the set and many a times, the print ads. Luckily, we received strong word of A scene from ‘786’

was invited to be performed at the NCPA comedy festival ‘Cheer’. We didn’t have a set because of budget constraints and we had less than a month to rehearse. Add to that only two actors as options and this whole idea seemed more challenging than any other we had faced before. The idea of ‘Two adorable Losers’ came to me before ‘786’. The scripting process took almost a year and even then, once rehearsals began, we took the decision to change the whole of Act II. As a writer I was a little disappointed but it was the right thing to do for the play to work better on stage. The process of putting together this play was a delight but a major problem we faced throughout was in generating funds and marketing. Producing a play is no different from launching a product by a company. It involves a lot of planning- how many print ads ‘Two Adorable Losers’ - rehearsals


mouth and audiences started accepting the play, responding with smiles and standing ovations. Our hard work and training was finally paying off, but the icing on the cake was when we got a call to perform at ‘Thespo at Prithvi’. It felt as if the circle was complete. At ‘Out of the Box Productions’ Suketu Shah, my copartner handles the marketing section along with maintaining accounts, I concentrate on writing the script and Murtuza on direction. A big advantage of being in a partnership is that your work is effectively divided on the basis of interest. We criticize each other’s work as well as motivate one another to work harder. This helped us in creating an open relationship which is essential to create a good rehearsal atmosphere and is conducive for our creative juices to flow. Setting up a theatre company with my college mates was the best decision I could have made. Our journey has just begun and we hope to learn a lot more, entertain many more and take our plays to diverse audiences so that they too can experience the wonder that is theatre.

Abhishek Pattnaik is a writer, actor and co-founder of Out of the Box Productions.

Two Adorable Losers at ‘Thespo at Prithvi’


A YOUNG PERSPECTIVE

5 Survival Tips for being a Young Female Director (and top 5 mistakes made by young men in theatre) It’s quite easy in an artistic community to assume that everyone is equal and it is our open and liberal attitude that artists famous for. It means we tear apart boundaries and stamp on rules (and isn’t that really what art is all about?). But theatre and the arts are sometimes a little less progressive than we’d like to think, particularly in our embedded attitudes of inequality. Race, Age, Sexuality, Class, Language and Gender still dominate the inequalities in the art world as much in the ‘world outside’.

Josephine Joy

I have been a full time performer, writer and director since 2011 and although I’d love to start a rant on the ridiculous comment a fellow audience member made to me about an actor being “too dark” or the strange reactions I had when I told people that I had chosen a Marathi actress for my show at Thespo in 2014 - I can’t say I have any experience of living and being in their situations. But I have been a full time female since 1989, and I can give you a pretty good insight to what its like being a woman in theatre.


Firstly we’re pretty under represented. Shall I give you some facts? In the UK, 68% of theatre-goers are female and 70% of those studying theatre in Higher education are female. However men dominate: 64% artistic directorships. 62% stage acting 67% backstage roles 65% playwrights 90% of Olivier award winners and of the 29 long running plays in London’s Famous West End, only one of them is written by a woman. (Catherine Rees and Dan Sage, Loughborough University, 2015)

Ok so now think about the theatre where you are from. How many plays have you seen in the last year? How many were written or directed by women? How many women were on stage in total? How many of those women had a main role (or spoke about anything other than a man)? I’m assuming that unless you watched the Vagina Monologues repeatedly this year the numbers are going to be pretty low. It makes you wonder, why, if so many women want to work in theatre, there are so little of us taking prominent roles? They didn’t believe I was a writer, “are you sure you don’t do dance or art” because I looked dumb. Also using the word “juxtaposed” when saying what it

would look like if I delivered a speech on being a writer, When what they meant was “are you sure you can talk ok? You don’t look the type because you’re a young woman” When a guy said to me on seeing my guitar “I would love to teach you some” without even thinking that I could play “You’re quite good for a female photographer.” ‘Women aren’t funny’ ‘it’s a female? I don’t like female comedians’ ‘ she was actually good, normally i women can’t be funny’ ‘can you let us know when the women’s on and we’ll go and have a fag’ etc etc constantly every time we have a group of men in and a female comedian... Whilst attending an audition with a ‘record label’...


Picture courtesy: www.guerrillagirls.com


“I’ll be honest I’ve not listened to you. You’ve certainly got the look of a pop star” So with this being a daily occurrence for young women in the arts, is it any wonder why young female directors are few and far between? Its often hard to admit to yourself, in this modern day and age in our modern and forward thinking profession that there is still gender inequality. Or maybe you already knew it was there but thought that you were the only one to notice? Or that you didn’t want to say anything because people might think you were being too sensitive? Or maybe you thought that “women are just not very good at Theatre”? (young man after my show, 2014) I have created a short list of tips for young female directors which are all based on actual events and scenarios, which I think will be as useful for young men as it is for young women and will, in the long run of your career, save a lot of time for everyone.

Picture courtesy: www.guerrillagirls.com Josephine and Rachael during Diwali in India,2014


1) MAKE YOURSELF KNOWN AND TAKE CHARGE Go into a venue or a meeting and introduce yourself. Tell them who you are and what you are doing there. This is quite easy to forget but will save a lot of time and embarrassment for everyone because someone will inevitably shake hands with a male stage hand that you have employed whilst assuming that they must be the director. If they STILL manage to direct their questions for you to a male colleague, just stare at them and smile until they realise their mistake, or if they need a little helping hand to be reminded, just go over to them again, shake their hand, introduce yourself (again) and ask if you may be able to answer the question better (be aware that you probably may not on account of your genitals!!!) OR have an all female cast and crew and enjoy watching as people all struggle to the point that smoke starts billowing out of their ears and they eventually explode. On this note, you WILL be mistaken for a costume designer, make-up artist, cleaner or a cast member’s tag along girlfriend at least 3 times a month.

2) DOES IT PASS THE BECHDEL TEST? The Bechdel test, asks if a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. (wikipedia, 2015)

This is based on a comic strip by Allison Bechdel [1985] and has been used as a rating for films ever since but I like to think about it in terms of the theatre I make too. Look it up. Think about it. You’ll be horrified how few films pass this and how little we notice, like, REALLY horrified.

3) WHY? There are general themes of questioning that are irrelevant to your art but will be directed towards you as some point whilst talking about your art eg. boyfriends, clothes, children. There are also relevant questions that are just simply offensive, or are edging towards something offensive. The WHY game is responding to everything with why? it works best when asked with a smile, the word ‘interesting’, and with enough open mindedness to let them realise their question was framed badly and could have been offensive, or for them to realise their own stupidity. Example: Why isn’t there a man in your show? That’s an interesting question, why do you think there should be a man in my show? Well she’s talking about politics. Interesting observation! She is, but why do you think there should be a man in my show? Well women shouldn’t talk about politics Ok, well that’s an interesting perspective, why shouldn’t women talk about politics? etc.


4) DON’T WASTE TIME WITH MANSPLAINERS Mansplaining is a portmanteau of the words man and explaining, defined as “to explain something to someone, typically a man to woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronising.[...] Often without regard to the fact that the explainee knows more than the explainer”. (Google, 2015) You know your art better than anyone else does, you know what you’re trying to achieve, you know what you want. Don’t be pushed around by people who think that having a vagina means you know less about theatre, or they know what’s best for you. By all means take advice, talk to your peers (not all men are going to mansplain to you) but the moment someone starts mansplaining is the moment to ignore everything they have ever previously said. Another great way of combatting a mansplainer is by learning how to use a drill. It’s a fun way of shutting up four strapping young men as they are gathered around one looking confused for an hour and you’ve been asked to paint a box or cut some paper. Or actually, maybe don’t... It frustrates you even more when they don’t allow you to show them.

The Guerrilla Girls are feminist masked avengers exposing dis


scrimination in the arts

5) KEEP MAKING WORK You will on many occasions feel like giving up. Its humiliating, frustrating and embarrassing. It will make you want to scream and shout and grab the next person by the ears and shake the sexist out of them. It will waste you time and money. But please keep going. Please keep making work. However you can, whenever you can. Because you are inspiring the next generation of young women not to give up either.

Josephine Joy is a professional performer and deviser working in the UK and is one half of the performance duo Clerke and Joy


THESPO : WHAT’S ON

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After meeting young theatre enthusiasts across the country through Orientation Meetings, where we spoke about Thespo and invited regitrations for plays, we have received,

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We now gear up for the SCREENING, where a panel of two theatre professionals travels across the country and watches all the registered plays! The panel also provides valuable feedback to each team that performs during the Screening.


Budgam Lahore

Registrations from cities across the country and beyond!

Delhi Karachi Jaipur Guna

Aligarh

Guwahati

Allahabad

Gandhinagar Ahmedabad Rajkot

Kolkata Dhanbad

Vadodara Mumbai Pune Sangli Goa

Nagpur Amravati Hyderabad

Bangalore Ernakulam


THESPO RECOMMENDS

Recommends Plays to Read - By Arghya Lahiri Arghya Lahiri is a theatre director, lighting designer,writer and filmmaker working out of Mumbai, India. He is one of the founder members of QTP Entertainment, and has been actively involved in the running of Thespo.

ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST

by Dario Fo

This play contains: Sharp political commentary, an act of rebellion, laughs, an indictment of bureaucratic ineptitude and corruption, laugh-out-loud laughs, multiple endings, multiple disguises, many hands, false eyes, nitroglycerin suppositories, rolling-on-the-floor laughs, eerie similarities to present-day India, a very inconveniently placed window, a chair that’s much too far, a state of rapture, a gut-punch ending, and tears-running-down-your-face laughs.


HAYAVADANA by Girish Karnad

Boy meets Girl. Girl marries his Best Friend. All three then in an old Forest. Hayavadana is an exploration of identity, of memory and love, of sexuality and death. But somehow, there is a man with the face of a horse, deaths and resurrections, the Goddess Kali, two dolls that come to life, a company of actors trying to stage a play, a small boy singing in the forest and a river that runs on and on, witness to all.

WAITING FOR GODOT by Samuel Beckett

Don’t believe the hype. Don’t believe the noise around it. Don’t believe in the cloak of utter seriousness that other people have draped on it. Read it. Out loud.With your friends. And follow the instructions. It is a treasure chest of what it is to ‘play’.


ABOUT THESPO

Thespo is a platform for any and every young person under 25 who is interested in any and all aspects of theatre. Except for the age limit, Thespo firmly believes in including youth from all parts of the world, all fields, all language groups and all art forms who share a love for theatre.Over the last sixteen years it has grown from a one-evening event to a year round movement comprising of an annual Festival, monthly shows at Prithvi Theatre, theatre training programmes, workshops, site-specific performances and much more for young theatre enthusiasts. Theatre Group Bombay - (Established in 1944) is one of India’s oldest English language theatre groups whose members (Alyque Padamsee, Sabira Merchant, Gerson Da Cunha, among others) have gone on to become legends in theatre, radio and television. QTP - (Established in 1999) is a dynamic young theatre group dedicated to promoting and facilitating theatre in the public consciousness through socially relevant plays, workshops, readings, news-letters and much more.


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Edited by : Prachi Bhagwat Designed by : Spriha Nakhare

Celebrate the Future of Theatre

Thespo INK - Colour it Theatre _Edition I