BANGALORE: After this year's edition of Short and Sweet, a 10-minute theatre fest that created waves, Anita Mithra, the curator of the festival, reached out to participants for an all-women one-minute theatre festival. And Zip Zap Pow — Flash Theatre for a Digital Generation, was born.
"In theatre circles, I often hear complaints about how it's hard to find women performers," says Anita, founder of three-year-old Tortilla Entertainment Company. "And I know that there are a lot of women actors and writers, but somehow, they get hidden. I was browsing through the Internet and found that an all-women one-minute theatre festival at New York has had six runs," she shares.
So, here was a new idea which had already been tried and tested abroad. "Many practitioners said, 'What nonsense, how can you have something like this! By the time participants come and introduce themselves, they'll have to get off stage.' So if the 10-minute format created ripples, this created bigger ones. But it picked up and we have about 27 scripts from Chennai and 30 from Bangalore," she adds.
Anita hopes to take theatre to people who wouldn't otherwise watch it. "When you say one minute, it's very non-threatening, both for the more reluctant artistes as well as for the audience. At the same time, it's serious art because there's a script and it's rehearsed," she says.
Featuring 40 plays across four days at Opus, BFlat, Brewsky and Sanctum, the festival also explores alternative venues for the art. "As an artiste, I know the frustration of not being able to get an established venue unless you book a year in advance, especially if you want weekends," Anita rues, adding that the brevity of the performances makes this format suitable for online fests as well. "That's one way of finding a solution to the venue problem," she concludes. For this festival, something brave is being initiated. The Greek civilization, known for theatre, has been condensed into a one minute story.
Jayshree Venkatesan, a consultant at IFMR Rural Finance and Okapi Research and Advisory Services who turned playwright at last year's Short and Sweet festival, has rewritten the classic story of Leda and the Swan.
"The main reason I was interested in this is because for this kind of theatre the playwright, the actor and the director have to push themselves a little more," says Padma Divakaruni, a stage actor who has also penned a script for Short and Sweet, and has written and directed five plays and is acting in six for the upcoming fest.
Zip Zap Pow will be held at Opus, Palace Road on June 27, 8 pm; BFlat, Indiranagar on June 28, 8 pm; Brewsky, J P Nagar, 7 pm; and Sanctum, Residency Road on July 3, 8 pm. The sessions, the organisers promise, will be extremely interactive, with one-minute challenges for the audience as well. At the end of July or beginning of August, a similar festival will be held for men, after which there will be a face-off round for the women and men finalists.