For more than two decades, the annual theatre festival at the India Habitat Centre in Delhi has enthralled audiences in its many avatars. The pandemic might have robbed people of the joy of watching live theatre for two years but now the IHC Theatre Festival is back to entertain, engage and educate.
From 23 September 23 to October 2, theatre practitioners from across the country will be showcasing plays, conducting workshops and engaging in discussions about the world of theatre at the IHC. The segment, ‘A play a day’, includes Shikaar, a dark comedy by Sheena Khalid and Puja Sarup, Akarsh Khurana’s coming-of-age drama What Planet Are You On, Atul Kumar’s musical comedy Aaeen, and Mohit Takalkar’s piece Hunkaro, among others.
About the diversity of plays on showcase, Vidyun Singh, creative head, programmes, elaborates that the goal has been to bring in theatre practitioners from across the country so that the audience gets an understanding of the contemporary theatre trends. “For instance, director Neelam Man Singh Chowdhry from Chandigarh (who is staging a solo performance by Vansh Bhardwaj called Trunk Tales) brings a different kind of mindset, form and exploration in her theatrical journey. She has a loyal audience that resonates with it," explains Singh. On the other hand, someone like Faezeh Jalali from Mumbai, (whose play Strictly Unconventional will be staged on 29 September) brings a more youthful energy to complex issues.
For those who want to delve deep into the nuances of stagecraft, the IHC Theatre Festival has a number of interesting workshops as well, which include body exercises and breathing techniques by Vinay Kumar and an introduction to Kalaripayattu by contemporary dancer Harshal Vyas.
“Theatre is a multidisciplinary craft today,” believes Singh. “It is no longer about ‘stage left, stage right’ but about bringing in many different elements of singing, dancing, breath control, martial arts and movement."
One of the learnings from the pandemic has been about arts needing a collaborative mindset to be able to survive. Young theatre practitioners are always looking to learn from their seniors. To showcase one such journey, the IHC Theatre Festival is focusing on actor Adil Hussain’s beginnings from his hometown Assam to becoming a part of Hollywood films such as Life of Pi. Theatre actor and director Akash Khurana’s book Mentormorphosis will also be launched the 26 September.
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Earlier this month, IHC also screened a number of movies about pioneering theatre playwrights, directors and actors, who blazed their way from stage to the silver screen. “The idea behind this was to make people think about theatre, even though they had not come to watch a play,” says Singh. The festival takes this idea forward with a screening of director Ranjan Ghosh’s Bengali film Mahishasur Marddini, followed by a panel discussion on how the movie successfully combines the elements of both the artforms.
The IHC Theatre Festival 2022 is on till 2 October at the India Habitat Centre, New Delhi