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Where The Young Lead

Wednesday, December 26, 2018
By Deepa Gahlot

The youth theatre festival Thespo brings fresh talent to the stage, and is also a kind of indicator of what young people are thinking, and perhaps what they want to see; which is presumably the kind of theatre that are doing.

This year was the twentieth edition of the festival and the four shortlisted plays that competed for the awards could not have been more diverse.

Man Maana Square turned out to be the favourite, winning prizes for outstanding play, best ensemble, best actor (Bhupendra Singh Jadawat) and best actress (Pallavi Jadhao).  Credit for the writing and direction of this play was shared by all four actors, Monika Panwar, Pallavi Jadhao, Bhupendra Singh Jadawat and Ujjwal Kumar, who devised this funny and poignant piece about memories of romance. Their note on the play states, “This performance is the result of exploring different forces, vectors and tangents of movements, both in thought and action. Memories of childhood become a library of unpublished stories, fragrant moments of guilt, extraordinary incidents and sweet bitter experiences. How a curiosity is expressed conflictingly in our thoughts and actions through the medium of the same body? This reflects as a reconstruction of the memory of the four players as they revisit their own past through various triggers.”

The play did not have a linear plot, but some scenes had the piquant quality of the various stages of love, from the silly “shaadi-shaadi” games played by kids (a comic, wordless sequence), to courtship and heartbreak. A few scenes were staged so imaginatively choreographed, lit and performed, that they drew spontaneous applause from the audience.

Gul Kufr Di, written by Akshay Anand Kohli and directed by Raj Sejpal was about the attack on the Golden Temple to flush out Khalistani militants and the aftermath that led to the assassination of then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi and the ensuing riots in which Sikhs were massacred. The story follows two characters whose lives are scarred by these incidents.

Sometime Somewhere, written by Sankalp Mahabaleshwarkar and directed by Pranav Rathaparki, was in gibberish, “based on Karma, which elaborates the law of ‘What goes around, comes around’ and gets self-explored through the life of a Neanderthal man.”

Marathi play Andhaar, which won the award for best production design, written and directed by Suraj Gadgile, was a tribute to anti-superstition activist, Dr Narendra Dabholkar, who was murdered by right-wing fundamentalists.

Along with the fringe and platform performances outside the main venue, plus readings and workshops Thespo 20 was a rich mosaic of playa, which, hopefully, will inspire experimental theatre over the next few months.

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