After their two productions — Tartuffe and The Curious Climb of Cutter Chee — opened earlier this month to a good response, 16 students of The Drama School are gearing up for the next set of shows at Prithvi Theatre under the guidance of two international directors
It was a proud moment for Jehan Manekshaw and Tasneem Fatehi — co-founders of The Drama School — when the 16 students from their institute put up public shows of two theatre productions recently. Tartuffe, a new Hindi adaptation of Moliere’s famous play and The Curious Climb of Cutter Chee, a devised piece in English inspired by Brecht’s The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, were put up by the students, barely six months after they stepped into the institute. After six weeks of vigorous training under the guidance of two UK theatre directors — Benjamin Samuels and Daniel Goldman — later, they showcased their creations at the Mumbai Marathi Sahitya Sangh, in the first week of this month. They will now perform the plays at Prithvi Theatre on January 21 and 22.
The English play, The Curious Climb of Cutter Chee, is directed by Benjamin Samuels
Manekshaw says that the idea behind doing these theatre productions was for the students to understand the craft of putting together a play and a personal sense of ability to do more on their own. As for the interpretation, he says the international directors follow a method where they ask their students to come up with improvisations. “The text is the basis, but what they create out of it is what matters,” he adds.
For Goldman, directing Moliere’s most famous comedy Tartuffe posed a challenge as he had to do it in Hindi, a language he doesn’t speak or understand. “I have directed a play in Swahili before, another language that I don’t know, but that was with experienced actors,” says Goldman. The students wrote the script for Tartuffe, with the director guiding them, ensuring that they stick to the original text and at the same time, encouraging them to conceptualise it in today’s India and finding all those moments of connection with the audience. Samuels, who directed The Curious Climb of Cutter Chee, was quite impressed by the dedication shown by the students. “It was a little tricky to get them to discover things on their own initially but once they got the flow, it really took off,” he says.
The students are on their own now, as the directors have gone back to their country. Saudamini Kalra, one of the students who was part of Tartuffe, says she’s excited about performing at Prithvi Theatre next. “We’re trying to incorporate all the feedback we got from the initial shows. The play lends itself to a theatre like Prithvi, as it breaks the fourth wall. We are looking forward to performing there,” says Kalra.