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Local theatre, global dreams

Bread & Butter Ent will present their play, The Untitled, at a youth cultural festival in Manchester next month. The team is now looking at crowdfunding to sponsor their trip to the UK

The biggest grouse for theatre artistes in India is that unlike their contemporaries in other countries, they neither make enough money nor do the arts get financial support from the government. This compels them to act in advertisements or films to keep a steady income coming and resort to crowdfunding to raise finance for their productions.

The cast and crew of The Untitled
The cast and crew of The Untitled

Mumbai-based theatre company Bread & Butter Ent is also facing a similar plight. The firm, which has artistes only below 25 years of age, is garnering support to raise money to stage their production, The Untitled, at Contacting the World 2014, one of the world’s biggest youth theatre festivals in Manchester next month.

Medha is the founder of Bread & Butter Ent, and director of The Untitled
Medha is the founder of Bread & Butter Ent, and director of The Untitled

Actor-director and founder of Bread & Butter Ent, Medha, who prefers to use only her first name, says, “Despite approaching several corporate companies for sponsorship, we haven’t received any support from them. We need to raise Rs 10-15 lakh to travel to Manchester and then to Corby in the UK to stage our play. We are now resorting to crowdfunding to raise funds for our trip.”

A cultural exchange
Each year, Contacting the World invites theatre groups from across the world to stage their plays. Out of 36 entries, only six groups make the final cut. They are then asked to collaborate with each other to come up with a performance piece. Medha’s group sent their audition tapes for the festival, including their videos of performing, interacting and ideating together. Last October, they were selected along with companies from Jamaica, Iran and Scotland.

Medha says, “We are collaborating with a UK-based theatre company called The Corby Young Actors. We exchanged notes with them through blogging and Skype about the common issues that youngsters face across the world. Our play highlights the stereotypes that artistes have to face in India and how they are often chided by their family members to have a secure degree or job before pursuing their love for
the arts.”

An interplay of arts
Medha, who made her stage debut with acclaimed writer-director Ramu Ramanathan’s play Shakespeare & She eight years ago, says, “The Untitled is an English play that also has Hindi dialogues and a couple of Bengali songs. We have used classical Indian art forms such as Kathak, Chau and Kalaripayattu along with Western classical forms. We have merged Indian ragas with western classical music and introduced body percussions such as stomping in the 90-minute piece.”

The 25-year-old says the production also gives her cast members a chance to showcase their potential. She says, “We have handpicked diverse artistes such as a beat boxer, a musician, a capoeira artiste, a belly dancer etc. I had set up Bread & Butter Ent in 2010 with the intention to bring diverse artistes under one roof and help them find their voice in theatre.”

The play opens in Mumbai at NCPA, Experimental Theatre on June 14 at 7.30 pm. To contribute to The Untitled, visit bnbcrowdfunding.wordpress.com

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