Theatre production company Bread & Butter Ent. started by Mumbai resident Medha, began as an expression of her shared love for art and innovation. What started out small became a platform on which she could produce content that was not only unique in the broader sense but also absolutely special to her.
Today, the group has grown and consists of people ranging from Berkley School of Music graduates to those who have picked up their skills just by watching online videos. They have a diverse talent pool, comprising musicians, performers, actors, and even a magician. "Most members are artists and desperately strive to pursue their careers being musicians, actors, painters, singers and dancers. The only member of our company with a job is Nikhil Alves, but he too pursues writing. 'The Untitled', the play we're going to perform at the 'Contacting the World, 2014' festival in Manchester also makes a statement about artists pursuing their art as careers than doing a regular non-creative job. It is a stifling thought for most artists if you ask me," says Medha, who has written and is directing the play.
'Contacting the World' is one of the world's biggest youth theatre festivals. Medha gave us some more insights into the play that won her and her troop the chance to perform in Manchester. 'The Untitled' is a play that was created in collaboration with another theater company from Corby, UK. For over six months, both companies discussed ideas as well as a variety of methods in order to sync their styles and create something that would combine their personal stories and ambitions. "We had tonnes of discussions among ourselves and came up with the concept for this piece. It's a devised piece and most scenes have been written after rehearsals, discussions or brainstorming on ideas. I personally wanted to try new methods of expression as a writer, I have, for the first time, explored spoken word poetry in this play. It is a whole new different style of writing and performance, and I have tried my best to get it right. Let's hope I did," Medha explains.
The team that will be going for the festival consists solely of young artists, all 25 years of age or under. Bread & Butter Ent. will represent India at this global youth theatre festival. The company was chosen after a long and grueling process of auditions and paperwork. Medha spoke about the festival and her reaction to getting selected. "We found out about the festival because, a while ago, I travelled to perform in the UK. As soon as they put up their call for entries, we started the tedious task of form filling, and we got through to the first round. Post that, we had to send audition tapes to the UK, which included videos of company members performing, interacting and ideating together. After a series of such rounds, we finally got selected along with five other companies, including those from Jamaica, Iran and Scotland. We were thrilled to be one of the only six companies chosen from over 36 entries worldwide. Our effort is to create awareness about our project and bring back the tradition of patrons promoting and encouraging art and contributing to it's sustenance as well."
The company produced their first show ‘Papier Mache Petals’, 3 years ago, and it was entered in one of the biggest youth theatre festivals of India - Thespo. The play explored the issues of love, life, existentialism, rhythms, dances and passions. It received a positive reaction from the Thespo team as well as the audiences, and went on to get selected as one of the four plays of Thespo for the year 2010 (from over 100 entries from across the nation). "I started my company in 2010, with a play called Papier-Mache Petals that got great reviews post it's premier show."
Medha also gave us a little bit about why she got into theatre, and why it's so important to her: "For me, theatre is the most real form of expression for an actor. The truth in your work is evident right then and there, without cuts, retakes, close-ups, chroma etc. Theatre is extremely challenging and that's the biggest high it gives me as an actor. Having started writing and directing plays, the challenge has only upped its difficulty quotient. I love being on stage, observing things off stage, imagining and writing more and more experimental theatrical concepts. It is all addictive!"
She adds, "I have been doing theater almost all my life. From a very young age I got involved in plays in school and college. I started doing professional theater when I just passed my 12th grade and did my first professional play at Prithvi when I was 17. I worked with names like Ramu Ramanathan, Jaimini Pathak etc and soon got noticed and was picked up for TV commercials."
The main hurdle these youngsters face is funding. Although the festival covers their stay and their internal travel when in Manchester, the group has to take care of its flights from Mumbai to the UK, a huge expense. But determined to make it to the competition that they've given tireless hours, sleepless nights and all their heart and soul to, Medha and Bread & Butter Ent. have started a crowdfunding website to help raise the funds. They've also approached certain companies and organisations that might help them with the funding.
Bread & Butter Ent. will be performing their play 'The Untitled' at NCPA Experimental Theater on 14th of June 2014 at 7:30pm.