Director’s Note : Nimmy Rapheal

World Theatre – New Trends

Since my exposure to world theatre is limited, I will attempt to express with the little knowledge that I have. I am of the view that a particular kind of genre of trends can be created in theatre at any given time. Different creative manifestations that churn out as a response to the times and its peculiar problems can be seen as trends of the times. In that sense, we may see patterns of responses that appear every decade that hold similarities between different creative people across the world. World over, last 3 or 4 years, we can see this kind of similar trends of responses emerging that have the core theme of increasing Fascism and Right Wingism taking over multiple spaces. Though the styles or the way of reinterpretation may vary, we will still see a large number of works produced and created with these ideas.

Our National Theatre – the Contemporary scene

Again I am no expert to make a definite comment on the first two points nevertheless what I have seen as national theatre and the contemporary scene is, in one part very exciting and in one part disappointing. The part that excites me is the emergence of youngsters flocking to the theatre because of the love and passion they feel for the form. Though these trends started in Urban scenarios, it has spread to the rural areas too. Secondly, most of these groups are creating their own scripts rather than depending on pre-written texts. This process allows a new kind of outlook that converses with the times. At the same time, what disappoints me is the lack of cultural policy and infrastructure that fails to tap into this younger wealth of creative people. This definitely has a negative impact on the current generation of theatre practitioners who are not able to sustain their practices in urban and semi-urban spaces due to lack of space and support. Despite these hurdles, you will see the emergence of some prolific creative pieces that came in the national theatre scenario in the last 6 years. What is interesting to me, is that in the contemporary scene is a lot of theatre practitioners who are constantly challenging themselves to shed their cultural baggage and are able to tell the stories in terms of form and content (in the way that they wish).

The place your theatre group occupies in this milieu

Adishaktiwas created was created in 1981 as a theatre company and its main activity then was to create performances that was already scripted. Adishakti believes that for live performance to remain valid as an art form, it must reflect the protein nature of the contemporary perception of truth and reality in its form and in its content. It must try to bring out simultaneity of its multiple sightedness, its tangled dynamism, through the very form and structure of the expression. This aesthetic pluralism which gives soverinty to allthe modes of expression, the word, the image, the sound, etc is a reflection of the pluralism of the contemprory world. For the contemporary mind can take in countless points of views – even contrary ones at the same time. It can see the same thing from all angles and distances. Adishakti through its performance creation, training methodology and community living tries to bring this multiple sightedness in its work.

As a Director, your own vies on new approaches to theatre and how the future should look

As a director, I believe that theatre can be anything and everything; this point of view allows me and my colleagues in Adishakti to negate or discard the works that we ourselves create. This deconstruction enables the emergence of a new language for each production from Adishakti. Again in a larger sense, different theatre practitioners are defining the form of theatre from their own perception. This allows them to bring an element what they please or what they think is helpful in communicating their ideas. In the last few years, we can observe from music to dance, to movement to singing, to 3d sound to projection etc are imbibed into a production as a part of the theatrical languages. This entire process enables the emerging works to be free from the conventional perception of theatrical language and redefining their own visual, oral or sensorial form.

As a director and actor, for me and the rest of us in Adishakti what excites us and what we think is the future work of theatre is the live presence of the actor that can create magic from an empty space. And this will be reflected in our current and coming works.

How all these ideas are connected to the concept of ‘Theatre of the Marginalized’ which is the basic theme of ITFOK 2018

From Adishakti’s perspective, notions of marginalization can be political economical, geographical and social. Adishakti’sapproach to these divisions is to create a hybrid understanding that enables us to see the middle ground rather than the extremes. Apart from this, in our practice, we are concerned about the marginalization of ethics and philosophy. These are the two components that allow humans to be civil. In 1990, when Adishakti shifted its base to Pondicherry from Mumbai, we felt a conscious need to create plays that were based on retelling and reinterpreting the existing narratives; the Indian epics, Ramayana and Mahabharatha. What excited us at that time, was looking at these stories, like a secret pod, all these myths and stories were able to hold the aesthetic pluralism and the hybrid middle ground that we were seeking for. In the Indian context, the lack of cultural continuity or the rereading or reinterpreting the story resulted in the appropriation of the stories and associated culture symbols that are shared by all of us. And we feel the only way in which we can fight this cultural fascism and appropriation is by recapturing the narratives and reinterpreting them for the contemporary view. For us, at this time our preoccupation is to bring these narratives back into the debate because they deal with the same questions that we as a society are grappling with about ethics, about civility, about marginalization, and about aggression.

Nimmy Raphel
Director – Adishakti

Photo Credit: Adishakti