Theatre On The Rocks, a Mumbai-based platform that has been taking theatre to breweries and restaurants, completes its half century of shows
(From left) Danish Husain, Adil Manuel and Denzil Smith rehearse for Poetrification
In May 2015, Theatre On The Rocks began as an experimental concept with the aim of taking performing art out of the confines of traditional staging venues, and promote theatre in restaurants and bars. "The idea came from a need for alternate spaces to perform at when an auditorium is either unavailable or simply too expensive. A number of theatre groups have mushroomed in the city, which include young groups willing to experiment on minimum budgets," says theatre artiste Sukant Goel, who co-founded the company with Mumbai-based Sanchit Gupta and Delhi-based Sahil Kapoor.
An earlier performance of Theatre On The Rocks at the same venue
The venture currently partners with The Barking Deer and Brewbot in Mumbai, and Tabula Beach Cafe and The Hungry Monkey in Delhi. In the past, plays in Hindi, Urdu, Marathi and English have been staged as part of the initiative.
"When we took the idea to bar owners, they were keen. We have been consistently staging shows at bars and breweries, where the audience can grab a drink or a bite before and after the show. We insist that there is no service during the performance. The audience is also encouraged to interact with the actors. The plays have to have minimal production, though. We encourage content designers to use the space to their advantage and make it their own," Goel adds.
This weekend will mark the 50th and 51st shows of the initiative. Here are two sessions you can look forward to.
Poetry and music
Popular actor and storyteller Danish Husain along with veteran actor Denzil Smith, and award-winning guitarist and composer Adil Manuel will put together an evening of poetry, music, and banter. Titled Poetrification, the 75-minute act designed by Husain features a guest performer at every show. This time actor Sheeba Chaddha will join the ensemble.
"Bringing a new performer in each show creates a new energy. I wasn’t enthused by the open mics and poetry slams I saw in the city. The shows were mainly about people performing their own works. Not enough was being done with the classics," says Husain. "For a multilingual city like Mumbai, I thought it best to have a mix of English and Urdu poetry with music as well," he adds.
Chaddha will perform poetry by English poets like Arun Kolatkar, Dom Moraes, AK Ramanujan, Jeet Thayil and Arundhathi Subramaniam, while Husain will present works of Urdu poets like Ghalib, Noon Meem Rashed, Faiz, Akhtarul Iman and Afzal Ahmed Syed. Manuel will help breathe life into the words with musical notes.
ON: February 12, 7 pm
AT: The Barking Deer Brewpub, Todi Mill, Lower Parel.
Sarika Singh and GaganâÂÂDev Riar at a rehearsal of Renovation
Directed by Gagan Dev Riar and Mahesh Keshkar, the play Renovation is the story of a married couple who realise that along with all the household items in need of repair, their love needs some fixing too.
Starring Sarika Singh and Riar, the 50-minute play has been written by Marathi playwright Chandrakant Prabhakar. "I’m always reading plays and when a script strikes a chord, I take it up. This is a story about a husband whose wife doesn’t want to have kids. But after the honeymoon period wears off, he finds himself unhappy with the decision," shares Riar. "A year ago, I wasn’t too keen to perform at bars but the audience has evolved.
These spaces offer opportunity for experimental projects as opposed to commercial, production-heavy acts," he adds.
ON: February 12, 8.30 pm
AT: Brewbot, G-01 & 101, Morya Landmark 1, off New Link Road, Andheri (W).