Beyond logic

Theatre director Praveen Bhole on using the body as a prop and not looking for metaphors

Mumbai | Updated: April 2, 2014 1:36 pm
A scene from the play Bandhalelyachi Manoghat A scene from the play Bandhalelyachi Manoghat

If there was ever a way of dissecting the intangible and explaining its nuances, theatre director and faculty at the University of Pune, Praveen Bhole’s attempted to explain physical theatre and how it is different from the scripted “traditional” drama, colossal figures of theatre such as Vsevolod Meyerhold, Antonin Artaud, and how one can appreciate devised theatre in the Indian context. The lecture held last week, was part of the Understanding Theatre symposium celebrating Lalit Kala Kendra’s silver jubilee. “Unfortunately, there was no live demonstration to explain the form,” says Bhole.
While a theatre faculty at his alma mater for 15 years, Bhole also has a theatre group called KLAMP that was started in 2009. “It is short for Kimaya Labratory for Actors, Material and Procedures. We experiment with the basic material actors have — their physique,” says Bhole, whose body of work include devised performances such as Mitali Papani, Jatretil Giant Wheel and Bandhalelyachi Manoghat, which is based on Prometheus.
For those familiar with theatre, the name of Bhole’s group would instantly remind of iconic Polish director Jerzy Grotowski. Bhole agrees that there is a sure influence. “While doing Masters, I read the works of Grotowski, who is known for theatre laboratory. In 2006, I met Eugenio Barba, and it turned out that he trained under Grotowski,” says Bhole. In 2009, he was invited by The Grotowski Institute in Poland where 20-25 senior directors from all over the world interacted with a group of about 50 young directors. “I was the only one from India, and met directors like Peter Brook, Tadashi Susuki and Pina Bausch,” says Bhole, adding that he also visited a Polish university last year and devised a hybrid theatrical project that merged Indian classical theatre with Grotowski’s idea.
Bhole shares that appreciating physical theatre is not meant to be a logical process. “We have the tendency to decipher metaphors. But it is supposed to be more appealing to the senses. There is nothing to think about; it is just to relax and be ready to accept what is showing on the stage,” he says, adding that he doesn’t really remember where his fascination for physical theatre began. As the conversation draws to a close, Bhole shares a memory of his time in Poland, albeit adding the disclaimer that it has nothing to do with devised theatre.
“During my visit in 2009, a play by Pina Bausch was set to be performed. When we reached the theatre, the air was very tense. No one was talking. So I asked what happened and a volunteer informed that Pina Bausch had just passed away. But true to the phrase ‘the show must go on’, the performers got on stage and presented dance theatre that pumped with life and joy for 100 minutes. When it came to an end, all the performers took a bow. Till that moment, they were oozing energy. But as soon as they straightened up, every one was crying on stage because they had lost their director. That, I will never forget,” he says.

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