There's something to be learnt from community theatre. Team work, etc, apart, we believe that the practice of doing something together creates a bond that either works or doesn't. There is little room for niceties and that is probably why The Great Galata is a fantastic platform for experienced and aspiring theatre writers, actors and playwrights. The third edition of this fun project is coming up next week and will bring together theatre practitioners in Bangalore who will create nine short plays in English, Kannada and Hindi.
Shiva Pathak and Nimi Ravindran, both founder and director of Sandbox Collective, tell us what we can expect this season.
Are there any changes to the format this season?
Shiva Pathak: Yes, but minor ones. The format essentially remains the same. The drawing of lots to decide the actor-director-writer combination remains. For the first two editions, the playwrights had to write a play in 24 hours and then these plays were allotted to the directors who would then create a play in the next 40 hours... This year however, we start with the draw of lots and instead of ready plays, the directors are allotted writers and the director, writer and actors will create the play together. It's up to the team to decide whether they want to start with a full script or if they want to devise a play together. We've also added a few extra zingy thingies to jazz it up… all of which will be revealed during the draw of lots..
Nimi, what has this initiative taught you - as a person and as a theatre-person?
Nimi Ravindran: That it is very, very, very important to have fun while we work. We are all trying to do theatre and work hard, but somewhere I think we get a little too caught up with our own work and forget how important it is to get together with our contemporaries and have fun. It's thanks to Galata that we've met so many other theatre people doing very different kinds of work. We've had an opportunity to work with them and watch them at work and it's given us the chance to get out of our own comfort zone and be with others. And it's been a beautiful experience each time.
Fifty five hours together can create a lot of friction. Does it happen or do all the actors/writers/directors actually put their differences aside and work together?
Nimi: Actually Galata is a strange creature. It's almost like a college festival - for adults. Everyone is trying to do their best to make sure their play comes out all right and that everything is in place in 55 hours. And everyone else is working within arm's distance of each other. So it also gives everyone a chance to watch others at work. All meals happen together, people help each other with props, costumes, etc. It's like a giant party, and then the show – we've seen nothing like this before. The feeling, that we are all part of the same community is quite overwhelming... we have friends from Bombay and Delhi telling us to invite them for Galata because they've seen it and think it's awesome. Everyone is cheering everyone else, and everyone is happy, it's quite something!
Plays usually need a lot of time to put together - from storyboard to stage. When you have an initiative that requires a group to put a play together in 55 hours, it must be quite a training process. Do you think a tight schedule such as this actually helps actors and directors to be more focused towards the art?
Shiva: Theatre, as in good theatre, or any kind of art requires rigour and TIME to develop. The single-minded purpose of The Great Galata is to have fun and for us to get together. While the idea is not to try to create works that endure.... or works that will make history, it just so happens that very engaging, slick works are created in that time during the festival. It's a big surprise considering the limited time, budget and other resources. But the event is not just about creating plays. Last year for instance, one of the works that was created for Galata went on to become a full fledged play that is performing all over the country. Also this remains the only platform of its kind and we've been told that it serves as a public audition, where directors watch a lot of new actors and then cast the actors in future plays. The spin-offs continue through the year. Galata is not just about what happens that day, it's about everything that leads up to it and what follows till the next year.
Playwrights: Swar Thounaojam, Joshua Muyiwa and Basav
Directors: Arjun Shankar, Ranji David and Vinod Ravindran
Playwrights: Sharath Parvathavani, Raghavendra Acharya and Kashyap
Directors: Abhishek Iyengar, Ajith Hande and Archana Shyam
Playwrights: Ashwini Kumar Chakre, Amit Sharma, Kamal Pruthi
Directors: Amjad Prawej, Nandini Rao, Pawan Kumar
Where: Ranga Shankara, JP Nagar, 2nd Stage
When: 7.30pm onwards, March 25
For: `200 per ticket
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