Theatre practitioner Vikram Sridhar connects the dots and transforms the age-old tradition of storytelling into a form that resonates with today’s world and life for the audience to find a new meaning in his productions.
The co-founder of Bangalore-based theatre group Tahatto, Sridhar has initiated Around the Story Tree, an endeavour to reach out to children and grown-ups from different backgrounds through storytelling in a contemporary form.
As a part of the initiative, Sridhar is in Chandigarh to conduct a week-long workshop and sessions at Dikshant Global School. “The effort is to take performance storytelling all over India, reaching out to varied audiences across age-groups, move away from stereotypes and clichés to give the art a new form and space,” he said.
The storytelling sessions begin with a physical warm-up, as Sridhar takes stories from our folk traditions, as well as new writings to give them his own flavour, perspective and reach.
Wildlife and environment conservation are the two areas Sridhar is passionate about and has spent years working on creating an awareness on the issues.
“Be it the cause of abandoned animals, prevention of environment degradation, elephants in the temples of Karnataka, the work has been varied. I translate these experiences into my stories, as they create awareness, empathy as well as a desire to share and live in harmony,” said Sridhar.
Using his experience of applied theatre — acting, set design, music, dance — Sridhar’s sessions use body movements, props and sounds to build characters and connections aiming at igniting imagination and giving a ground to create more ideas from a story and use the body for expression.
“Human emotions have not changed — be it love, friendship, relationships — the core is same across time. So, I have an outline of the story and I go with the flow, changing as I know my audience, their geography, culture. I don’t believe in writing a script. In today’s age, we have lost inter-species communication, our closeness to flora-fauna, nature and its wonders. As I tell stories, I try get both children and adults to feel the magic of this world and also involve them in the process using music, acting and writing,” said.
He narrated a story of children lost in an Indian forest and their encounter with different animals and birds living in the forest.
Reading, researching, travelling, staging theatre productions — Sridhar said there is always a space and place for stories, as they connect people and initiate conversations.