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World Theatre Day: Exploring the impact of theatre on lives, plus curated list of plays

Updated on: 27 March,2023 10:37 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Shriram Iyengar |

On World Theatre Day today, we speak with theatremakers and artistes to gauge its impact on lives, and curate a list of their recommended plays

World Theatre Day: Exploring the impact of theatre on lives, plus curated list of plays

Representative Image

All the world’s a stage’, wrote William Shakespeare, immortalising the proscenium across the globe. In 1961, theatre’s role in public life was recognised with the institution of World Theatre Day by The International Theatre Institute on March 27. On its 62nd anniversary today, we speak to city artistes about their key learning from the stage and their favourite plays.

Stage as life
Vivek Jadhav, 50, stage designer

Set designing and management is a key element of the composite art that is theatre. Even in plays where there are no sets, the actor’s body becomes the set. Theatre was a passion ever since I graduated out of JJ School of Arts 25 years ago. The stage was a space for expression, and soon the bug bit me. In a play, the designer cannot just focus on design. You have to be aware of the mood, theme, script and the needs of the actors. Theatre mimics life and leaves you with experiences that you can only look back upon. 
My recco: The Water Station adapted by Sankar Venkateswaran for its beautiful presentation.

Thinking on your feet
Pallavi Patel, 33, costume designer

Patel designed the costumes for (left) Neil Bhoopalam and Denzil Smith in the play, Every Good Boy Deserves a Favour.  Pic Courtesy/NCPA
Patel designed the costumes for (left) Neil Bhoopalam and Denzil Smith in the play, Every Good Boy Deserves a Favour. Pic Courtesy/NCPA

I can’t point out a definitive moment that drew me into theatre. But the first stage work I did was a play titled Gaa Re Maa. I really enjoyed the process. It made me realise that every production is a tight knit family.

It makes you disciplined and meticulous. I also loved how much you could experiment, and how open people were to ideas. No matter whether you are a newbie or a veteran, there is equality on set. 
My recco: The Verdict for its taut direction.

My means of communication
Raveesh Jaiswal, 32, founder-director, Bombay Theatre Company

I started out as a musician playing the tabla backstage for plays in Nagpur. It was in high school that I learned of a new play being put up — an adaptation of The Mystery of The Pantomime Cat by Enid Blyton. I gave the audition, and it started by my theatrical journey. It taught me the importance of preparation. No matter how much you prepare, there will be some unexpected problem. But you have to find a way to improvise and move forward. It is the same with life.
My recco: Kharaashein by Gulzar for its brilliant montage of solo performances and the use of sound and light.

Life in the moment
Manav Kaul, 46, actor-writer-director

Kaul’s play, Chuhal.  Pic courtesy/ Instagram
Kaul’s play, Chuhal.  Pic courtesy/ Instagram

My first epiphany with theatre was when I was in Class V when I saw a street performance of Matadeen Chand Par in my hometown of Hoshangabad. I thought, ‘We can do this for life? Just stop everyone to tell a story on the road?’ It blew my mind. The second such moment was while watching Habib Tanvir’s Mudrarakshas in Bharat Bhavan, Delhi. That was when I left everything and turned to theatre. A live performance is a different experience, especially when you are young.

For me, theatre is not a stepping stone, or a path to something else. I do it because it is my life. A play is only alive while I am working in it — for the audience and for me. The moment it is completed, it survives only as a memory. That is very close to life. All that matters is to be present in this moment. Your bad performances will be forgotten. There will be another play tomorrow. People will move on. It is not about gains or losses. It simply is, and I love that. 
My recco: Notes on Chai by Jyoti Dogra was a powerful and amazing experiment I saw in Mumbai. In Delhi, I saw Uparwala Kamra, which was another experimental piece that impressed me.

Plays to watch this week

>> Log Baag (Hindi)
ON March 27; 7 pm
At Asmita Theatre Studio, Aram Nagar Part 2, Versova.

>> A Letter From Sydney (English) 
ON March 28; 8.15 pm
At Veda Factory, Bungalow No 120, Versova.  
COST Rs 250

>> Antataha (Hindi)
ON March 29; 8 pm
At Prithvi theatre, Juhu Church Road, Juhu.
COST Rs 200 onwards

>> Crossing To Talikota (English)
ON March 31 to April 2; 7.30 pm 
At Jamshed Bhabha Theatre, NCPA, Nariman Point
COST Rs 590 onwards

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