The covid-19 pandemic held a lot of learnings for people from all walks of life—however, for theatre practitioners Shernaz Patel and Nadir Khan, this two-year-long lull brought with it the realisation that nothing could replace the magic of live theatre. And now, the two are all set to bring the audience back to the proscenium with the sixth edition of Aadyam Theatre.
The festival, which kicks off today, will showcase four proscenium plays and two experimental plays in Delhi and Mumbai in the next eight months. In order to make the theatre experience more meaningful, a segment called Aadyam Spotlight will include workshops, blogs, a theatre club and podcasts.
Khan has been associated with Aadyam since its inception in 2015. However, this edition is a little different for both Patel and him as artistic directors. The focus has been to bring back the magic of the live experience—ensuring that audiences and creators alike get the most out of it. “It’s sort of like a reset button. Curation wise, Aadyam always aspires for the best ideas and practitioners to be a part of it and that hasn’t changed. Having said that, there is a renewed vigour, which is a function of the two-year hiatus,” he says.
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Theatre practitioners such as Patel, Kyla Dsouza, Ira Dubey and Purva Naresh have been part of the curation committee for the edition. And among the plays they have chosen is Girish Karnad’s Hayavadana, which has been directed by Padma Shri awardee Neelam Man Singh. The other directors part of the line-up include Atul Kumar, Swanand Kirkire and Anahita Uberoi.
While there is no fixed criteria, Patel ensures that the festival has a good mix of genres, ranging from classic and the contemporary to comedy, drama, musicals and text-based work. The proscenium allows the makers to use its expanse and paint it in different ways imaginable. “We keep the integrity of the art form but also look for something that works on a larger scale,” she says. For Khan, it is the perspectives of the directors he finds most interesting.
It is the first time that Aadyam Spotlight is introducing podcasts as part of its mix of offerings. Patel, who was part of some theatre events organised by the youth theatre movement Thespo, recalls coming across a number of youngsters who were using the audio medium to engage with people. “I find it really encouraging. Using the spoken word in the audio format makes a lot of sense now,” she says. Khan feels that the podcasts need to be in a format that allows for large, diverse groups to be encouraged and introduced to theatre. “Which normally does not happen with interview-based podcasts. It is really about a more holistic and more human approach to theatre practitioners,” he adds.
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Ultimately, Aadyam’s aim is to engage people and try to grow the theatre community. “Down the ages, there are these beliefs that theatre is for the intelligentsia or that it is boring. We are trying to break these ridiculous notions and bring that lot in which is sceptical about going for a live performance. Once they come, they are moved and changed in some way when they see a story play out in front of them,” concludes Patel.
Aadyam Theatre kicks off with Hayavadana at St Andrew’s Auditorium, Mumbai on 4-5 February. For updates, follow aadyam.co.in