Nabamita (1537242): Theatre and the Children’s Voice

Nygren, Christina, ed. Theatre for Development : Experiences from an International Theatre Project in Asia “Children’s Voice”. Svensk Teaterunion/The Swedish Centre of the ITI, 2009. 146-150. Print.

“My Journey with the Children’s Voice project changed my perception of theatre as a whole”.

In this article, Sengupta shares her experience of participating in the Children’s Voice project initiated by Swedish ITI  in 2002. She writes “Here they had a totally different attitude towards children’s theatre. It was not the direct involvement of the child as the actor but rather the adult actor performing for the child” (147).

The activities of the theatre group reminded the writer of the coordinated workings of a community, committed to the same purpose. She recalls her experience as a part of the audience at a particular theatre house called “Tittut”. The observation that she made there was that conversing with the audience or answering to the queries of the children was a part of their theatre process. Sengupta observed the focus given to the response of the audience and its significance in the project of Children’s Voice.

The learning that she took from this project was reflected in her later performances that were results of a more creative, imaginative, tolerant and empathising (not sympathising, as children are conscious of the behaviour meted out to them) self of hers. She realised that when a performance is being staged for a target audience consisting of children the enactment and the use of imagination should be of a higher level “because children cannot be fooled” (149).

According to Sengupta, a theatre person can grow and develop more by playing in front of a child as the artist builds for himself/herself an “initiated and sensitive adult audience”. She concludes her article with the lines “My father often says that you can practice almost all other forms of fine arts all by yourself. Theatre is something that you can never do alone. There  must be another person interacting with you. It is this quality which makes it the  most  powerful tool of social communication” (150).

Nabamita (1537242) : Theatre and its Language : In Search of Form

Bhatia, Nandi, ed. Modern Indian Theatre: A Reader. Delhi: OUP, 2009. 462-468. Print.

“In Search of Form”. Dutt begins by stating his belief that “Theatre must speak its own language and the idioms of its language are its lights, its sets, its music” (462). His belief in the optimal and logical use of theatrical devices can be compared to Mahesh Dattani’s use of the same as said in the article “Contemporary Indian Theatre and its Relevance”.

Dutt cites an example of the reaction of the conservative section of the critics expressed towards the play “Coal” where the theatre troupe made use of an amalgamation of the stage-crafts so as to appeal to both the visual and aural sense of the audience. The lamentation of the so-called progressives over the death of the form of theatre drowned that of the reactionaries regarding the content.

Dutt also analyses and examines the reason of his failure which was rooted in his attainment of a rational contention of the struggles made by his proletariat figures. Though his scenes meted out theatrical thrills and revelations, it failed to explore the representation of the conflicts in the characters. He realised the importance of content being integral to the play from Voltaire’s statement that “all forms are good, except the boring ones” (466).

He drew the inference that, since the content is the predominant element of his plays, the form used can be that of Yatra, mainly because of its formlessness. He also admits to have shifted his focus to the merging of the contradictions in a character, the gap between what they longed to do and what they were actually doing.

The author believes in the creation and re-creation of myths and hopes to attain “the finiteness of each of my characters and the infinity of a re-created Myth” (467).

Nabamita (1537242), The Theatre and the Self

Bhatia, Nandi, ed. Modern Indian Theatre: A Reader. Delhi: OUP, 2009. 469-472. Print.

“Contemporary Indian Theatre and its Relevance”.

Dattani attempts to delineate how the world, both external and internal, of Man is being reflected through Indian theatre. In order to embark on the path of relatability, believability and synergy, theatre has to come out of the essence of life, experiences, and emotions, which are common to the process of existence. According to him, for theatre to transcend the mere act of “action”, the knowledge of the Indianness of our theatre must confluence with that of the self.

The author focusses on the extent of representation that Indian theatre has attempted to embark on, keeping in mind the demands and the expectations of the audience. The theatre can reflect the ways of the Indian society, the ways of an individual self and also the gap between these two. The context of the Indian way of living and thinking, being exposed to the nuances of life, is and should be portrayed by the Indian theatre as realistically as possible.

Dattani believes in the use of theatrical devices, like lights, sound and properties (props), in order to maximise the effects of the actions and incidents being staged. He thinks that theatre should grow as an art as its dynamic nature is what will address the sensibilities of the diverse audience for years to come.

Dattani perceives three ideological spaces: The traditional (tradition), the continual (continuity), and the radical (change), that purport to merge our identities with that of our theatre.

While explaining the traditional space, Dattani brings in the concept of “Natya” which refers to both Dance and Drama. In this space, the birth of the tradition and its roots are held on to firmly. The concept of “varnam” contains all the nuances of our performing arts forms. The continual space refers to the continuity of the roots of the tradition in forming our identities, in keeping with the present times. The importance of representing the various shades of the self, coming to terms with the workings of the society is taken into consideration. The radical space brings about the change in order to explore, invent and develop new forms and content. This is the space that ensures that the art form remains dynamic, in a state of flux whose ulterior purpose is to evoke reciprocity between the audience and the Indian theatre.