Stage set for a festival

Updated: Jul 23, 2019, 13:07 IST | Shunashir Sen |

An Andheri venue will hold a theatre festival next month, showcasing 22 plays that span a variety of genres

A scene from Gagan Damam Bajao
A scene from Gagan Damam Bajao

There was a time when the Mumbai theatre circuit lacked the sort of vibrancy it has today. The venues were limited to a few spots like Prithvi in Juhu and NCPA in Nariman Point. The people in the thick of things were a mix of small groups and well-known theatrewallahs, but it was a tiny set that constituted the industry. That gradually started changing when a slew of indie spaces started popping up in the city, most notably in Versova's Aram Nagar and the vicinity of this neighbourhood. They provided a platform even for minor players to stage their work. The community thus grew in the process; things have now reached a point when there is a play being staged in the city almost every single day.

Scene from the plays Guru DakshinaA scene from the plays Guru Dakshina

Evidence of that lies in the monsoon theatre festival that will be held at an Aram Nagar venue early next month. There are a total of 22 plays that will be staged, helmed by 17 different directors. Rahul Datta, who founded Colourblind Entertainment and is organising the event, tells us, "This is our second season and the plays we have chosen encompass different genres like comedy and a satire on political issues. For instance, Transfer Kid, directed by Ghanshaam Lalsa, is a play for children. Guru Dakshina [Mohneesh Kalyan] is based on the Mahabharata, on the story of Eklavya. Then there's Dev Fauzdar directing Gagan Damama Baajyo, written by Piyush Mishra, which is about the legend of Bhagat Singh," adding that there are some first-time directors too, though these people have been involved with others aspects of the theatre world for a while.

Rahul Datta
Rahul Datta

Datta himself will direct Manav Kaul's Park. The plot involves a scuffle breaking out over the seating area in an open space, and the narrative reflects several subjects through the use of references. It deals with issues of language and territory, among other things, like in a sequence where a certain character tells a person that he should get preference for the seat since he's a Maharashtrian, and that person replies saying, "So what? You don't even know Marathi while I am from North India, and I know the language."

A scene from Hum Bihar Mein Chunav Larenge
A scene from Hum Bihar Mein Chunav Larenge

The stagings will span almost the entire month of August. Datta adds that in the 12 years since he's been a part of the city's theatre circuit, he has seen it evolve considerably. "It was a challenge for common people to get a foothold in theatre earlier. Even places like Prithvi are almost always booked out even today. But smaller venues that have emerged give people like us the space to stage our plays. And that also gives the audiences more options," he says, indicating that as far as theatre goes, it's a great time to be in Mumbai at the moment.

On: August 4, varying times
At: Studio Veda, Aram Nagar part 1, Andheri West.
Log on to:
Cost: Rs 200

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