Ensemble of plays: City-based theatre group trains directors

After having trained for a year with the Indian Ensemble, six directors will  be presenting six plays

Published: 21st May 2018 10:43 PM  |   Last Updated: 22nd May 2018 04:55 AM   |  A+A-

Actor at the rehearsals of the play Nagamandalam

Express News Service

BENGALURU: In an effort to provide for a pedagogical approach to theatre and its various aspects, the Indian Ensemble, a city-based theatre group is carrying out a training programme for directors. For a year now, a select few directors have been training for this programme. And now, each of them is getting ready to direct their own play. The series of plays by the six directors in this programme, is being staged starting today. 

Abhishek Majumdar, the former artistic director of the programme, and the principal architect and faculty of the director’s programme says: “They are taught how to analyse the text and work with the actors. Every term they work on a play, where they find their own actors, just like how it is is in the real world. They look at it from all aspects –  the production side, legal requirements, financial requirements and so on. They are also taken on  field trips and exposed to guest lecturers who speak on Indian art and western art.”

The actors who get selected for the programme don’t need to necessarily have directorial experience but need to have experience with theatre or literature. The students are required to maintain a blog for rehearsal notes. “When we make our selections, we have to be convinced that they are here to stay. The idea is to give the director the tools to deliver the best work they can,” says Vivek Madan, executive director of Indian Ensemble. 

Women director’s find hard to collaborate

One of the director’s of this programme, Sunayana Premchander will be presenting an adaptation of Nagamandala. The play talks about sexual identity, that which is outside of her identity – which needs to be freed from violence. She says, “Right now a lot of discourse is geared towards freedom from sexual violence. But what if we talk of her identity and agency in the face of oppression? Most of our dialogue looks at whether people have a choice to stay with oppression or people don’t have a choice at all. But many a time it is a lot more complicated than that.”

This is the second play she is directing, and as a woman director she feels women get challenged a lot more often than her male counterparts. “Everything only works because you have a team that makes it work. I find collaborating hard. It’s a little hard to be taken seriously. Now there are more people out there but there are not too many of us who are trying to do it. Traditionally, we’ve not had a culture of male storytellers. But now that’s changing,” she says.

Better ecosystem for artists

Vivek is of the opinion that there is a need for such programmes, to ensure a better ecosystem for artists. “I wish more people would pass on their experiences. It’ll make a difference to the quality of content of these plays. Are you making the plays that you want to? It’s about what you want to say and who you want to be with while working out the play. At the end of one year, part of it is to figure out what you want and the way to achieve that.” 


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