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Youth theatre fest

Friday, December 14, 2018

Youth Theatre Festival Thespo dedicates 20th edition to memory of Alyque Padamsee

Thespo, India’s premier youth theatre festival, will see an exciting week of performances, participative readings, workshops, and the launch of a collection of plays that emerged in the last two decades at its 20th edition, which is dedicated to the memory of theatre/film personality Alyque Padamsee.

To be held at the Prithvi Theatre, Juhu between December 17 and 22, Thespo 20 will also present the Lifetime Achievement Award to Shanta Gokhale, novelist, playwright, translator, arts critic, and cultural commentator.

Thespo is the jewel in the crown of  Q Theatre Productions (QTP)  and was ideated in St Xavier’s College hall where the Theatre Group Bombay envisioned making theatre attractive for young people. Theatre Group was founded by Sultan Padamsee, and has produced stalwarts such as Ebrahim Alkazi, Gerson da Cunha, Alyque Padamsee, Pearl Padamsee, Sabira Merchant  and Vijay Crishna.  TG  currently runs the Sultan Padamsee Award for new playwriting and mentors Thespo

Alyque’s son Quasar co-founded QTP  in January 1999 with  Yuki Ellias, Advait Hazarat, Arghya Lahiri, Nadir Khan, Christopher Samuel, Farah Bala, Amatulla Ghadiali, Kunaal Roy Kapur, Toral Shah and Karl Alphonso.

Since inception, QTP has held workshops, outreach activities, curated performances, full length productions, recreational theatre courses as well as semi-intense schooling in acting and directing. On the last Monday of each month, QTP organises an informal play reading in a drawing room. Its theatre club meets once a month to watch a play that has been earmarked in the schedule, followed by a discussion.

“It really has been an amazing journey,” for QTP’s Artistic Director Quasar popularly known as Q. “We didn’t expect it would still be around. But we’re glad it has endured.”

The book of plays  to  be launched at the 20th Thespo is titled Thespo Writes! and includes four works by playwrights who were under the age of 25 at the time of staging them at the festival.  Theatre director Ramu Ramanathan and Irawati Karnik selected  the quartet for  publication from a list of 50 written in the last two decades. The four plays are Butter & Mashed Banana (Thespo 7th edition, 2005) written in English by Ajay Krishnan,  Naav (14th Thespo, 2012) written by Bhushan Patil/ Marathi;  Kabadi Uncut (Thespo 15, 2013) written by Siddhesh Purkar/Marathi and   Bhanvar (Thespo 18, 2016) co-written by Virajas Kulkarni and Shivraj Waichal, 

The full-length plays being staged were shortlisted  from over 200  entries from 28 cities across India. These  are: Theatrewaalas Gal Kufr Di (Mumbai entry in Hindi, Punjabi languages)  which is a tale of love and betrayal set against the backdrop of the 1984 Sikh massacre, Vighnaharta Theatres’ Sometime Somewhere(Pune, gibberish), a  parable that reminds us that what goes around comes around, The Red Mark’s  Man Maana Square (Mumbai – Hindi, English)  which is a  bittersweet exploration of primal instincts, Abhasaheb Garware Mahavidyalaya’s Andhar (Pune - Marathi), a satire which pays tribute to the social activist Narendra Dabholkar and tells the story of one man’s fight to bring about change in an area of darkness and Rizwan, which has been inspired by Kashmiri-American poet Agha Shahid Ali's collection of poems, The Country Without a Post Office, and tells the tale of a boy whose life is torn apart by the insurgency in Kashmir.

The festival will also showcase a string of other events such as Platform performances and Fringe Performances including a  screening of Tambours Sur la Digue, courtesy the  Alliance Française, Fourth Wall Productions’  Rizwaan (Delhi – Hindi, English, Urdu) and  Memories Down the Lane by Australian theatre director Glenn Hayden whose association with Thespo goes back to 2009 when he brought a group of young actors from Adelaide on a theatre tour which led to a collaborative presentation with QTP.

Some of the international productions that they have brought to India include Brotherhood (Canada), HeLa, Foreign Body, Mind Walking and I, Malvolio ( all from the UK).  Performed by Tim  Crouch, an Obie-award winning performer, playwright and director, I,Malvolio re-imagines Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night from the point of view of its most notoriously abused steward. It’s a hilarious and sometimes unsettling rant from a man adrift in front of a cruel audience. Part abject clown, part disciplinarian, Malvolio asks his audience to explore the pleasure we take in other people’s suffering. I, Malvolio has toured the world since it opened in 2010 and was performed at the 9th  Tata Literature Live! Festival at the NCPA.

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