New stage for theatre

With pandemic-induced movement restrictions, art and culture courses offered through the physical medium came to a long pause.

Published: 25th March 2021 08:01 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th March 2021 08:01 AM   |  A+A-

(From left) Co-founders Jehan Manekshaw Hetal Varia and Maneesh Verma

Express News Service

With pandemic-induced movement restrictions, art and culture courses offered through the physical medium came to a long pause. While there has been an influx of online workshops, a definitive curriculum for upcoming theatre professionals had been missing.  To address this gap, the newly-launched Eklavya, an online school of drama, has launched full-fledged certificate courses in performing arts.

Started by Drama School Mumbai, under the leadership of veteran theatre professional Jehan Manekshaw, Head of School, Drama School Mumbai, eight courses have been designed by Actor & Editor Maneesh Verma, Voice & Dialect Coach coach Hetal Varia and Manekshaw.

“The most important aspect of the course is to enable selflearning among theatre enthusiasts from Tier II and III cities,” says Manekshaw. Excerpts from an interview:

How does Eklavya plan to facilitate students from Tier II and III cities?
Every year, we have students who have the inclination, the ability, the passion, but are not able to do the course. Funds, moving to a big city like Mumbai for such a career, family pressure to take up something more ‘reliable’ - all play a huge part in this dream. We had even found scholarships for such students, and still the rest of the barriers remain. Ekalavya will help them start to pursue their dreams from their home towns, with low risk and low outlay, but over time, help them develop the skills and the confidence, from which they can convince their families and themselves in the process, and come to Mumbai with fundamental preparations and awareness of what all such a career will take.

What are the benefits and challenges of conducting online courses in acting?
The challenges are that the instructors and course designers have to be extremely clear and specific. It challenges us to articulate our work with a higher level of methodology than we would use in an in-person course. Theatre is always best taught in person, but the pandemic has shown us that there are many exercises, techniques and methods we can share across the digital medium that if the participant does, they learn, and still develop a good understanding. The fact that you can reach people across the country, if not the world, makes these challenges worth overcoming.

You have discussed keeping the first course Breaking Open Characters free. What will this course entail?
Breaking Open Characters will get individuals to see the world differently, that each person we come across has a full life story behind them, to be able to observe, listen to and understand them. With these skills, you will develop empathy and build a better connect with others around you. A course like this will you understand yourself better, how you walk, talk, move, think, speak, and then you will automatically start to make changes in yourself, which will be for the better.

Take us through the courses and their duration.
There are courses acting for camera, art of audition, script analysis among others, currently being launched on the platform between now and the end of the year. Each course takes about eight to ten hours of work to complete, and each step within the course requires about 45 minutes to an hour of dedicated time. The courses are open to all. While the first course is free, the others will cost Rs 2,500- Rs 3,000. Our next goal is to offer these courses in various Indian regional languages.


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