As the last date for sending Writers’ Bloc 4 entries draws to a close, Rage Theatre, which organises this event, gets ready to go through nearly 200 plays from across India. They have collaborated with Royal Court Theatre, UK, and Jindal South West Foundation. The initiative nurtures upcoming talent in playwriting. The Mumbai-based group’s co-founder Shernaz Patel talks about the entries they have received this year.
What has been the response so far?
It has been amazing. We have received about 200 scripts which are in nine different languages. These have come not just from the main metros, but also from Kanpur, Kochi, Hyderabad and Nagpur, among others. We also have many more Hindi and Marathi entries this time. The last day for sending entries is June 25. We will have the selection in place by the end of August.
How instrumental has Writers’ Bloc been in encouraging original writing in theatre?
We put the script at the absolute centre of the theatre process. Many of our playwrights have either benefited from the plays they wrote for Writers’ Bloc or applied their learnings to future plays. Some have also had success internationally — Farhad Sorabjee was commissioned to write a play by Theatre Royal, Plymouth; Ram Ganesh Kamatham’s play Crabwas workshopped at the National Theatre of Scotland’s Diaspora Festival in 2012; Purva Naresh’s Ok Tata Bye Bye and Ayesha Menon Pereira’s Bakery on 76 Chapel
Street were invited to to perform at the Curve Theatre, London, in
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Can you tell us about the entries in vernacular languages and how you treat them?
The plays that are sent in are only used for selection. All playwrights work on new scripts during Writers’ Bloc. The process is the same regardless of the language you write in. However, we do facilitate the process by having translators present at the workshop so that the mentors can provide feedback to the playwrights. Actors come onboard during the second workshop and we ensure they can read those languages.
Do you see a change in the quality of plays being written?
We have premiered 32 plays so far, so I think we have been doing a lot for the emerging playwrights already. Theatre has financial problems. If more private enterprises supported theatre and if more money was ploughed into theatre education, our quality would dramatically improve. We need many more initiatives like Writers’ Bloc. We need to start young by going to schools and encouraging playwriting at a young age.
This story appeared in print with the headline New Chips on the bloc