Cover Story

For Chandigarh,The Ibsen Festival staged last year was a rare chance to view world-class theatre in the form of six plays.

Written by Parul Bajaj | Published: February 10, 2012 12:57 am

A historical reference,a tome on art appreciation and a tool of networking,the city’s art and culture community is using catalogues to say many things

For Chandigarh,The Ibsen Festival staged last year was a rare chance to view world-class theatre in the form of six plays. But what made the audience connect better with the festival was published literature,by way of catalogues and brochures on Henrik Ibsen’s theatre,inspirations,aesthetics and contemporary relevance in India,with leading names in the field of drama giving absorbing perspectives on Ibsen. The catalogues demystified the art of the matter and made Ibsen

“tangible”.

For all of The Company’s theatre productions,thespian Neelam Man Singh Chowdhry has a special place for her nattily designed and well-conceptualised brochures and catalogues,which the director describes as a “historical reference” for not only her,but all those interested in theatre. So before her plays start,every seat is provided with a brochure or a catalogue for the audience to understand what’s in store.

“I want my audience to enter a performance with a background,so I provide conceptual information like how I have positioned my work as a director,the interpretation,notes on all those who were involved in the production,including my collaborations,” says Chowdhry,adding that the Theatre Archival Centre in Kolkata has brochures,invites and catalogues dating back decades and can be used for research.

Critiques on the production,articles on a particular theme,playwright or movement,Chowdhry houses an enviable collection gathered from all over the world,including the catalogues of the National School of Drama’s theatre festivals. “These provide a great insight into the best of what’s happening in the field in India and abroad,” she says,adding how she likes hers to be designed with dramatic visuals. “I personally write the text and choose the colours for my brochures and catalogues,” says Chowdhry.

An extension of their work and philosophy,for many artists,catalogues are a means to reach out to an audience long after the exhibition or performance is over; and also get the artists more exposure and mileage. “That’s what we hope when we design catalogues and brochures for art exhibitions and theatre. The aim is to make them creatively and visually stimulating enough to take back home,become collector’s items and ready reckoners,” says Diwan Manna,chairperson of the Chandigarh Lalit Kala Akademi,as he proudly turns the pages of the catalogue printed for the ongoing annual art exhibition. Hardbound in a striking yellow cover and designed like a coffee table book,the 160-page catalogue takes one through all the works on display. It also has articles on art,the Akademi’s effort to the bridge the gap between artists and the common man by way of lectures,workshops and slideshows by leading names in the field of art. For Manna,the catalogue is a medium for creating an interaction with art,and as he put it,“hopefully appreciating it”. “The effort is priceless,but we have priced it at a reasonable Rs 300,” he adds.

From up and coming to smaller groups like The Creators — a group of painters,sculptors,printmakers and applied artists who organise an annual exhibition of their works — sponsors as well as friends pitch in for the publication of catalogues. Apart from the artwork,it’s the information about the artists that helps them bag lucrative projects. “After seeing our work in a catalogue,many a time,we’ve had companies,hotels and banks approaching us to make artwork for them,” says sculptor Maninder Singh.

Souvenir is the title of the Theatre for Theatre’s (TFT) catalogue,printed at the beginning of every festival that TFT organises. For this year’s Winter Festival,that concluded last week,Sudesh Sharma also added pages boasting of articles and observations of those associated with theatre,on Chandigarh’s changing theatre scene. “We chronicle the work we do and it’s our way of showing a commitment to the audience and the people who made it possible for us to stage two major festivals in a year,” says Sharma.

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