Bangalore Mirror | Dramaturges of the World Unite
The Dramaturgy Symposium curated by actor and director Kirtana Kumar promises to be the most exciting theatre event this season
–By Nirmala Ravindran
Though it has existed unofficially for ages, dramaturgy, in all its comprehensive glory, is a pretty recent phenomenon in Indian theatre. Till recently, visiting dramaturges from abroad would be posed the inevitable question by theatre practitioners in India, “So, what exactly do you do?” The answer, while still elusive, is something theatre workers in India have started talking — and debating about. Several productions in Bangalore have worked with in-house dramaturges, who might be separate from the directors and playwrights.
Though dramaturgy was only defined as recently as the 18th century by German playwright and philosopher Gotthold Lessing, it has fast become a popular area of study in Germany and Western Europe, besides the United States of America. Simply put, “Dramaturgy aims to be a comprehensive exploration of the context in which the play resides.” And this includes the understanding of the physical, social, political and economic milieu in which the drama takes place. It also takes into account the structure, rhythm and flow of the writing.
Because it is an area of study that receives limited attention in India, Jagriti, as part of their ‘New Writing Festival’ put together a workshop on Dramaturgy for theatre practitioners in Bangalore. Writers, actors and directors discuss, debate, analyse theory and practise the principles of dramaturgy. The recently written play, Nobody Sleeps Alone by debutant playwright Deepika Arwind, was used for the ensuing analysis and theorising. The play, which premiered last year, has been partially reworked taking into account some of the inputs from the Dramaturgy workshop and will perform at Jagriti from March 27.
For theatre lovers in Bangalore, the best part of the New Writing Festival and the discussion on dramaturgy is the Dramaturgy Symposium, also curated by Kirtana Kumar. It brings to the city some of the biggest names in Indian theatre over a two-day period to discuss, debate and analyse the role (and need) for dramaturgy in our theatre. The symposium is free and open to all; though registration is compulsory. “We are working with a framework that is cognisant of the past, welcoming of the future and most importantly, frames theatre-makers as agents provocateur of social change,” says Kumar. She further adds, “Theatre has always shown the ‘other’ way. So too, in initiating a discourse. This symposium hails Plato’s Symposium: essentially a drinking party! A place for colleagues and peers to meet, debate and discuss a central issue in an informal and convivial atmosphere. There are talks by some fabulous souls, conversations between people on two ends of a spectrum, opportunities for questions.”
Acclaimed actor/director and solo performer Maya Krishna Rao will discuss her work, dramaturgy, politics and choices. Scholar, theatre maker and academic Rustom Barucha will talk about the ‘History of Dramaturgy’ and the attempt to institutionalise it in cultures (like ours) that resist such attempts. Writer and performer Pritham Chakravarthy talks about ‘Film Dramaturgy’. Renowned playwright and director Veenapani Chawla from Adishakti in Pondicherry, who explained dramaturgy to enthusiastic audiences at the opening of the Ranga Shankara festival in 2004, will talk about ‘Dramaturgical Choices’ in her theatre. Actor and director Shernaz Patel of Rage Productions, Mumbai, will talk about “whether we really need dramaturges” and about theatre collaborations. Acclaimed director Sunil Shanbag explains the dramaturgical approaches to his work in award winning plays such as Cotton 56, Polyester 84 and Sex, Morality and Censorship. Besides talks, there are freewheeling conversations and panel discussions, and participants include Hans Kaushik, Poile Sengupta, Anmol Vellani, Abhishek Majumdar, Prakash Belawadi, Mallika Prasad and Ram Ganesh Kamatham.
For theatre lovers in Bangalore, practitioners or audiences, this is a not-to-be missed symposium and the first one of its kind.
Read as it appeared in Bangalore Mirror here.
Jagriti is a Performance Arts space dedicated to Theatre, Music, Dance and Comedy. Founded in 2011 by Arundhati and Jagdish Raja, the space has hosted several productions from India and around the world. A 200-seat theatre, built around a full-thrust stage, it is fully equipped to cater to both artistes and audience. The main stage is designed for intimate performances, with adjoining spaces for informal lectures and gatherings, and an attached restaurant- 'The Fat Chef'. Jagriti is owned and operated by the not-for-profit ART Foundation, a registered charitable trust.
The Rooftop - above the main auditorium is an open-to-sky space with a staging area that can accommodate about 50 people. A raised and walled off platform can work as a perfect area for puppet theatre. The Rooftop has a restroom and a pantry.
The Terrace - alongside the auditorium, the Terrace can accommodate about 20 people as an informal gathering area.
Lumbini - extending out from the foyer, Lumbini has a stage and an open-to-sky terraced space for about 80 people.