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INK r ea t h T t ur i o l o C

Edition IV: may 2016

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A note from Team Thespo Hello Theatrattis, young and old! (But mostly young) Just an issue ago, we were still reminiscing about Thespo 17 and now here we are! Work on Thespo 18 is already gaining velocity. We have a strong team all set to conquer, some new faces and some regulars. Fast approaching is also a new academic year. By the time our next issue comes out, colleges will have reopened and freshers and seniors alike will have lined up for the intercollegiate theatre fun. Post that we will be meeting most of you in person - because planning for the Thespo Orientation Meetings is also on in full swing! This month, we look at AmyGo Productions and Mad About Drama's new initiative that aims to connect young Theatre groups from across the country as well as at one of Thespo's youngest and newest Theatre Group - White House Productions. The Internet's current favorite and our very own Mithila Palkar spares time for a Quick 8 while young actor Veera Saxena shares her mantra with us. Our screening panel from Thespo 16 picks out her recommendations of must-read plays as well. Tell us what you think about the issue! We would love to hear your thoughts at ink@thespo.org.

Happy Reading! Â


DIALOGUE

BUDDING ARTISTS

QUICK 8

CHRONICLES

In Exchange of Theatre With Pencils Behind Their Ears

Mithila Palkar

Start to Something New

THESPO RECOMMENDS

By Scherazade Kaikobad

WHAT’S ON AT THESPO

Thespo@Prithvi


The E.Q. team


In Exchange of Theatre East meets West in this tale of two cities where theatre plays the matchmaker. Aneesha Srinivasan finds out how. ‘When a bunch of school boys come together and decide that theatre is what they want to do, it's not hard to find like-minded people.’ Mad About Drama (M.A.D) member Soham Majumdar provides the perfect start and the perfect summation of this article. M.A.D, Kolkata and AmyGo, Bombay’s collaboration takes the shape of The National Theatre Exchange- a series of shows in Bombay and Kolkata. The festival showcased M.A.D’s Codename SRK on 1st and 2nd April, 2016 in Prabodhan Thackeray Mini Auditorium in Bombay and AmyGo’s The EQ and M.A.D’s With Love, Calcutta on 27th and 28th of April, 2016 at University Institute Hall, Kolkata.

I had a chat with M.A.D’s Soham Majumdar and AmyGo’s Amatya Goradia about theatre, and their new initiative- The National Theatre Exchange. It’s a unique and a brilliant idea that brings theatre makers together. What were you guys aiming at when you started? M.A.D: It started off with Thespo, where we got in touch with AmyGo and discussed how The National Theatre Exchange could be the future for connecting theatre artists from all over India and maybe the world. AmyGo: In 2014, M.A.D invited us to Kolkata. But we were caught up in our performances and couldn’t go.


The M.A.D team performing ‘Code Name SRK’

In 2015, we decided that we wanted to expand and start travelling with our work. So after incredibly successful individual performances, how did you find the collaboration? AmyGo: The exposure of working with another company has been tremendous. Both the groups were on the same page in terms of perspective. We just wanted to go out there and do it without thinking of the result

M.A.D: Very challenging, enthralling, it's a different lifestyle that you're working with and not just different people. Working independently is not half as fun. Why choose each other? M.A.D: This makes us sound like participants in a matrimonial alliance. They came to watch our shows at Thespo@Prithvi, and we had heard so much about their work, and loved their style. Amygo Productions were the perfect fit. AmyGo: We connected instantly. The idea of an exchange program was very impromptu while we were in talks with M.A.D. The exchange helped us reach out to a different audience and enhanced our experience of performing in a different city. M.A.D: It was time we gifted the Calcutta audience an opportunity to watch a play by a young group that has carved a name for itself in Bombay.


While your collaboration is model in terms of your approach to theatre and ideologies, how did you produce the shows? M.A.D: We had the Oberoi as our hospitality partner. We wanted AmyGo to have the best hospitality possible. For the shows, we hired University Institute Hall in Kolkata. It had been renovated recently, it fit the profile, and it was the best in terms of the technical aspects. A member of our team was always in touch with AmyGo and even did the sound for their production. AmyGo: M.A.D’s play had 9 people when they came to Bombay, but ours had 25. We knew it would be difficult to travel with 25 people, so we cut our team down to 14. There were 13 people on stage, and one doing lights, so everyone had to play multiple roles. We had to make compromises. With one group new to Bombay, and the other to Kolkata, what were your marketing strategies? AmyGo: Both groups were committed to getting an audience. M.A.D has an

audience in Bombay given their six houseful shows at Prithvi. Social media helped a lot in terms of marketing. We put in good work and expected the show to speak for itself. M.A.D: We did a lot of other events as well, to generate interest. We did a photo walk, our graphic designers created Einstein in Calcutta about what it would be like if Einstein visited the city, and a With Love session. This edition was about friendship- we asked people to talk about friends they’ve lost touch with. It wasn’t only about the two plays; it was an engaging event that went on for over a month. We increased awareness by combining the artwork of both the plays into one ticket.

Walk With Love


Performance of The E.Q. by Amygo

And how did you swing the financial affairs? AmyGo: As a result of a first time effort both groups reached a financial agreement. The host team would provide accommodation for the visiting team, and finances procured from ticket sales would go to the same. M.A.D: We handled the Kolkata chapter and AmyGo handled Bombay. So when we took the play to Bombay, we treated it as just another performance

The shift between cities must be palpable. Do the audiences vary in the two cities? M.A.D: Every city has its vibe. We draw different energies from different kinds of audience, and adapting to a fresh set of audience in subtle ways is what now comes very organically to us. What positively affects the production is the style of promoting the collaboration when it comes to switching venues. Bombay and Kolkata are strangely similar in terms of their interest in theatre, which makes it easy to have them intrigued, but difficult while dealing with the set of expectations. Now with shows behind you, what are your reflections on how the performances went? M.A.D: It was wonderful. People from all parts of the city loved it, and everything we heard on social media was positive. We got a count of over 550 in spite of high ticket prices. People are okay with the prices, as long as you provide quality in return.


AmyGo: It went well! People loved the play, and requested us to come back. The collaboration worked! Unfortunately, when it comes to the future, they’re a little more secretive.

A poster created for the Exchange Program

‘I’d like some things to remain a surprise. But things can only get better.’ says Soham. Interviewed and written by Aneesha Shrinivasan.


Mithila is a young actress who has been associated with theatre and films for a few years now. With quite a few plays to her credit now, she has worked with directors like Purva Naresh, Gopal Dutt Tiwari and Quasar Thakore Padamsee. She was also seen in the film ‘Katti Batti’. Currently, Mithila is working on the web series- “A Girl in the City” by Bindass, where she plays the lead character Meera.


Mithila Palkar’s

Quick 8

Your first theatre encounter: My sister had taken me out to watch a play: ‘Durga Zhaali Gouri’ at the Shivaji Mandir. How has your journey been since then? The play was captivating. I wanted to get on stage. I first achieved that in school and then the theatre journey continued. One of your goof ups on stage: In Aarambh's Tunni ki Kahaani, one of the scenes opens with three of us on stage. The lights came on and there was no one. We had forgotten to enter! Two minutes of panic backstage and we just walked on stage in character and continued. The show always has to go on….

An aspirational character or a theatre production that you would want to be a part of: Disney India's Beauty and the Beast. What are the three things you definitely want to do in 2016? Be part of a new theatre production, a feature film, learn how to play the Sitar. A recent play that you watched or read and loved: Well, I'm not particularly proud aboutwatching it on video, but Dr. Sreeram Lagoo's Natasamrat was something I wanted to watch for a long time. Kusumagraj's words and Lagoo's performance were purely magical. Your favourite stage to perform on: Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai! No guesses for that. One moment in Thespo that gave you the kick – Watching shows put together by people my age (or younger!) made me realise that I was definitely gravitating to be on the other side. The stage. That was my final push.


The team at rehearsal


WITH PENCILS BEHIND THEIR EARS Fresh out of school and into the world of theatre! Young guns of St. Mary's dabble with the stage, shows and spray paint; Rohit Prakash traces the comer journey of White House Productions. Across the street from HR College, right in front of an infamous cigarette shop, Arbaaz and I chatted with Ahaan and Abbaz. Ahaan and Abbas were fresh out of school – or so they seemed. The four of us had a scintillating conversation about school and St. Mary’s ICSE Dramatics Society (which, for us, is a fairly big deal). By the end of the conversation, the million-dollar idea was to start a production house/company where we’d put up plays. White House Productions (WHP) started with its first play: ‘Oblivion’ – my attempt at writing and direction. Following the success of the first show,

the only question on our minds was: where else can we put this up? We got our answer in a theatre festival for the youth, happening right here in Mumbai. Before we knew it, we had several theatre enthusiasts keen to join our group: so many, that we had to turn some down! We had students from St Mary’s, JB Petite, and St Anne’s. And thus, a team was born. The team was happy go lucky to say the least but when push came to shove, everybody put the hours and pooled in whatever resources they could. The team was bright and somebody knew somebody and we would get what we needed without major spending.


The logistics did come down hard us. Each and every one of us at WHP is still on a pocket money system! And who likes giving away even a rupee of that? However, money is not the only issue. The entire production procedure often becomes a task. White House however believes in do-it-yourself method. Every single prop is made from scratch. Drillers and hammers are used in the authentic sense and everybody from the sound guy to the lead actor has a pencil resting on their ear and a measuring tape in their hand. This allows a certain kind of innovation too. For our last production, we used a vacuum cleaner to help us spray paint on massive wooden sets. This might explain why our plays do not have the kind of expertise and finish that other professional plays exhibit. However, I would vouch for the unique style and modern approach that we love to showcase. White House has always tried to enrich the theatre experience with ideas like having 12 set changes in one play or having a sudden celluloid clip

Production work by the members

of the actors you’ve watched throughout the play, break out in front of you. Perhaps, this raw and organic approach is why we have managed 4 shows in less than 6 months since we started out. Since each one of us is 19 years old or younger, we have to strike the balance between college and theatre. To find a common slot for a show while keeping exam schedules in mind is close to impossible. Sacrifice and time management are two things WHP has taught us. But a bigger task than.


handling college, is dealing with our parents. They resisted quite a bit initially, but after watching a couple of shows, they are more than convinced that it is worth every second. We try our best to finish practice on time and have a few days off so that we can have some quality family time too. But when a show is round the corner, we choose not to look at the clock, whenever we are at rehearsal.

The team after a performance of ‘Oblivion’

This brings me to what the very essence of our group is. We need to schedule our rehearsals in a manner that maintains a balance between theatre and our education. We follow a tight 20 day rehearsal schedule before our performances. This gives us all the liberty to concentrate on our careers and education. The pressure is immense and tough times are abundant, but together we manage to sail past each and every problem.


START TO SOMETHING NEW Veera Saxena is fast on her way to making it, but not without her share of trial and error.

Making the decision to become an actor and then working towards achieving your goal is no cake walk. It is a gamble and it is hard work. There may be a manual to become a great performer and excel at the craft but there isn’t one to find work as an actor in India. Many young performers at the end of a project are faced with the question of ‘What Next?’ and that can be scary and disconcerting for many. Veera Saxena is a young actor and after having spent over four years interspersed with a variety of acting projects, she too is faced with the same question and she’s sure there isn’t one ‘correct’ answer to that question. Veera Saxena


Veera did not go to acting school. It was in the environs of college in Pune that she found herself gravitating towards theatre. The city is known for its incredibly competitive intercollegiate theatre scene and in the last few years it has seen the discovery of talented young creators of theatre. But this excitement was more or less restricted to the Marathi-speaking theatre- a language she could not speak; let alone perform in. But the exposure to that world rubbed off and she returned to Mumbai with the want to be an actor lingering on.

A scene from Natak Company’s Bin Kamache Samvad

For months after coming back to Bombay, she spent her time watching rehearsals of plays, doing little else. It has been 5 years since and Veera has dabbled in a variety of projects in the theatre with a small role in which she played a receptionist in Aaskata’s Uney Purey Shahar Ek- a Marathi adaptation of Girish Karnad’s Boiled Beans on Toast, a part in two children’s plays - Clue and Saraswati’s Way, a woman in a disintegrating marriage in Arpana’s Marriage-ology, a part in Natak Company’s still running play- Bin Kamache Samvad and finally


Disney’s Beauty and the Beast which is in its second run of shows in the year in Bombay. But, all of this would not have been possible unless she had made up her mind to take matters into her hands, knock on several doors and not wait for opportunity to knock on hers. It all began with getting a part in Arpana’s Marriage-ology, directed by Sunil Shanbag. She was in for a pleasant surprise when she got called to play the part (as the original actor injured herself) and not such a pleasant one when she learned that the show was a week from then. It was in the coming six days that she went through a crash course in using your natural voice strongly and piecing a character together through the text. The experience of working with Natak Company on Bin Kamache Samvad was an entirely different one. The play was unique in the sense that the process of creating it was a collaborative effort involving all the performers and the director. In addition, spending time with the hugely talented team of Natak

Veera as Mrs. Potts in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

Company and watching them at work was an education in itself. Although the role in Uney Purey.. was a small one, working with a team of actors who were experienced and a director- Mohit Takalkar- who she had always wanted to work with, was an opportunity she valued like none other. “I observed how Mohit would work with his actors and bring out the best in them and that amazed me. Another lesson learnt was that of a strong work ethic.


His no-nonsense attitude toward his work was inspiring and made me pull my socks up”. The two children’s plays Clue and Saraswati’s Way, in which she played the lead, were by far her most physically exhausting. Saraswati’s Way was almost an education in crisis management. In a run of 10 shows in Bangalore, One of the cast members hurt his leg on show day and what resulted was not a cancellation of the show and instead, Plan B was drawn, scenes were re-written in half an hour and the audience got a show to watch; not to mention that she played 9 characters in the play. After auditioning for a part in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Veera bagged the role of Mrs Potts and is now working on the musical’s second round of shows in the city. The part requires her to sing, dance and act- all at once. The musical is touted a first of its kind in the country in terms of its scale. All of this might sound like a handful but it certainly wasn't a part of a plan, but there was a plan and things

haven’t gone accordingly- they seldom do. The challenge is in confronting that fact and embracing it. Her father, also an actor, has given her only one advice- ‘do not take yourself too seriously’ and ‘whatever u do, do your best or don't do it at all'. Five years into the profession and she is still faced with the perennial ‘What Next’. Most of her assignments didn’t just show up at her doorstep. It involved giving numerous auditions, meeting several people and looking for opportunities in every nook and corner. So, if you are a young actor and can’t wait to be on stage or on the screen a good starting point would be to stop expecting opportunities to fall into your lap. Instead shed all your inhibitions and pre-conceived notions, go out there and make an effort to get to know people, nag them for opportunities and something valuable is sure to come your way. At that time, believe in yourself and dive right in. Written by Prachi Bhagwat


Thespo Recommends Plays to read – by Scherazade Kaikobad Scherazade Kaikobad is a freelancing performer and theatre person. She is also the co-founder of Acceleratedintimacy, a collective that seeks to explore how theatre and performance can be made relevant to our present life, how it can be made playful, live and constantly in conversation with another. The first offering from the group was 36 Questions in Proximity of a Conversation – a six hour long immersive experience about making space for listening, responding and play in a city that’s known for its race. Scherazade was also one of the Screening Panels who curated the plays for Thespo 16 youth theatre festival in December 2014, Mumbai The universe of the theatre is as vast enter into play with these impulses, and varied as the universe of its open up new pathways, find yourself in practitioners and partakers. Its different modes and ways. possibilities are endless. Each time There are ways and ways of writing, and you open up a new play… a new kind ways and ways of looking at the space of of play… new neural impulses are the written text in performance. The triggered, new connections are made more one reads, the more the possible. As a practitioner… any kind possibilities of interpretation open up. of practitioner – director, performer, playwright, designer, etc… it is vital to So, take 3…


Wada Chirebandi by Mahesh Elkunchwar The first of the grand social realist plays in Mahesh Elkunchwar’s Wada trilogy. Sometimes, a good piece of writing can help us make sense of the world we live in, weave what is complex and vague and bewildering into a coherent narrative. Elkunchwar’s Wada Chirebandi does just that, through a wonderfully nuanced rendering of loss and decay in a crumbling feudal order in postIndependence Maharashtra.

Trojan Women by Gwendolyn MacEwen Gwendolyn MacEwen’s adaptation slips into the elisions in Euripides’ Greek tragedy, wrenching the old classic from the inside to emerge with a more contemporary, poetic, feminist voice.

The Water Station by Ota Shoga Without saying a word, Ota Shoga’s play is a meditation in slow motion on the wasteland of human experience. Here, the text is more of a production score, detailing each action or shift on stage. It reads almost like a musical score for an orchestra, in which all the notes for all the instruments are laid out in a flow chart across the page.


WHAT’S ON AT THESPO

Thespo’s quest to promote youth theatre has been greatly aided since Thespo began its collaboration with Prithvi Theatre (Bombay)in 2007. Thanks to this development, Thespo now curates performances by young theatre practioners and workshops, which Prithvi lends us space for. Apart from the festival, ‘Thespo at Prithvi’ also gives Thespo a chance to be a part of the theatre lover’s life all year round! This June we present to you: Verbum’s Veronica’s Room

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Come meet us at the Thespo Orientation Meetings! It’s a chance for young theatre enthusiasts to know more about Thespo and the annual youth theatre festival. Get to meet likeminded young people and be a part of the Thespo Movement!


(Started in 1999) 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 seventeen 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 programs, workshops, site-specific performances and much more for young theatre enthusiasts.

(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.

(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, newsletters and much more.


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INK TEAM Cover Page by: Mati Rajput Edited by: Srishti Ray, Saniya Saxena, Kalpak Bhave Designed by: Spriha Nakhare

A YOUTH THEATRE MOVEMENT 2016

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