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Ahead of its new season, we visited G5A Warehouse to find out what's new

Updated on: 03 October,2023 10:49 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Shriram Iyengar |

As the art space of G5A Warehouse gears for its upcoming season, we visit the venue for a sneak peek into the new additions of this zero period

Ahead of its new season, we visited G5A Warehouse to find out what's new

A previous performance at G5A. Pics/Shadab Khan

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Ahead of its new season, we visited G5A Warehouse to find out what's new

A venue for the performing arts never looks the same during its off season. There is a quiet studiousness about it that is different from the hectic vibe of a performance weekend. Yet, something was brewing beneath all that quiet at G5A’s Warehouse space in Mahalaxmi when we made our visit last week during their zero period. Sound engineer David Pinto is at work with several members of the curation team, as they plan the new season that begins on October 4.

“Zero period is our time for preparation and upgrades. There are quite a few things happening this year,” shares Ishan Benegal, artistic director and curator of the space. Among the key upgrades is the new console and technology that will fortify the ambient sound of the performance space. It is something the Warehouse has been working towards since its inception in 2015, Benegal reveals.

The new upgraded consoleThe new upgraded console

“One of the main reasons for the delay was the lack of space, and the other factor was budget. Now, we are finally ready to upgrade, and the technology has also evolved alongside,” he remarks over a phone conversation as he is travelling. As we walk down the stairs towards the stage, Pinto points to the new speakers running along the side, and says, “We have added speakers behind the stage, as well as along the sides. Each speaker now is within limits, but provides more sonic clarity.”

The console — an Allen and Heath Avantis — stands on the platform facing the vast main stage of the hall. Having worked with the old console for eight years, the sound engineer reveals that despite its efficiency, there was a need for an upgrade.  “The previous console would provide us with 44.1  hz sound [effective for CD clarity]. This one captures it in 96 hz [studio quality]. It inherently increases the audio quality. Secondly, it will be able to handle a lot more in terms of sound when it comes to live performances,” he shares.

New additional speakers, placed adjacent to the stage, provide an ambient effectNew additional speakers, placed adjacent to the stage, provide an ambient effect

Such upgrades are essential considering the multi-faceted nature of the space. “My personal view is that technology designed for a theatrical stage does not always capture the complete sense of musical performances, and vice versa. The objective was to find the sweet spot for the different performances,” Pinto points out.

It’s a useful addition for the upcoming season. Benegal adds, “The new system fits the existing space without having to alter anything. It also syncs with our incoming DCP (Digital Cinema Projection).”

The terrace and (right) café are set to undergo changes in the  futureThe terrace and (right) café are set to undergo changes in the  future

The DCP is another major upgrade this year; particularly on view of its Cinema House which began in 2021. It was a suggestion that came from producer Nikkhil Advani and founder Anuradha Parikh on the advisory board, reveals Pinto.  It [the DCP] is a tremendous help when it comes to film screenings. It simplifies and streamlines the process, while also ensuring security,” Benegal notes. The DCP software offers key authorisation for a limited period, preventing any unauthorised streaming of films. It protects data while also enhancing the quality.

The system, which requires a separate room, will be set up in the upgraded gala area behind the main stage. Pinto shares that the space is being renovated, and the system is expected to arrive later this week, in time for the first artist-in-residence session by Kutiyattam and Nangiar Koothu performer, 
Kapila Venu.

David Pinto, Anuradha Parikh and Ishan BenegalDavid Pinto, Anuradha Parikh and Ishan Benegal

Parikh adds, “From the beginning, we have always encouraged work that is multidisciplinary and explores concepts and elements from new media. With this new equipment, we hope to reinforce it and nudge artistes to push their boundaries further.”

The auditorium is also exploring ideas to transform the physical space. Pinto shares that the team is looking at fabrication for the terrace that will enable them to host performances in the monsoon. “We hope to give it a touch of sophistication without losing the intimacy it offers,” he notes. There are also talks to open up the Port Kitchen & Bar’s doors to introduce standing room options to patrons. But these are  still at nascent stages of ideation, he says.

The terrace of G5A Warehouse

For now, the focus is on the new season. In addition to Venu’s week-long residency and talks, Benegal adds that the season will look to reinforce ideas that align with their values. With the annual art festival in December, Should Art 2023, on the horizon, Parikh summarises things, “My hope is that we can together learn and strengthen this ecosystem into one that is more vibrant, equitable and courageous.”
From October 4 to October 8
At G5A Warehouse, Shakti Mills Lane, Laxmi Mills Estate, Mahalaxmi West. 
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