A three-room house with a courtyard in Mumbai’s Andheri is now Studio Tamaasha, one of the more intimate spaces for theatre performances in Mumbai. With 55 seats, the space, which officially opened last week, is endearingly informal, something that suits founder and theatre director Sunil Shanbag’s agenda. “We wanted to stretch the definition of theatre and engage with audiences beyond buying a ticket and watching a show. We also aim to create a platform to meet and collaborate with practitioners from other fields,” says Shanbag. He says that keeping in mind the kind of cultural calendar he wanted to create, he needed to build a space that was unconventional. One of the rooms serves as a lighting room-cum-office while the middle one is meant for performances. The last room doubles up as a green room and kitchen.
According to Shanbag, the performers have been looking for unconventional spaces while owners are keen to give a unique identity to their property. “This trend has been growing not just in Mumbai, but also in Delhi, Chennai and Bangalore. The problem is many of them are adhoc spaces as the owners change their mind about letting it out or there is some other problem,” he says. Citing his own experience, he says that after doing a series of shows at the aerobics floor of a gym in Mumbai’s Khar on Sunday evenings, he had to stop because the gym decided to add more treadmills. “So, we thought of creating a space which we own and can control,” says the thespian.
The space opened last week with a presentation made by Mumbai-based photographer Chirodeep Chaudhuri, who’ s been photographing Mumbai’s public clocks since 1996. Chaudhuri, who has spotted 74 of them in two decades, shared his interesting encounters from Mumbai’s bylanes in search of these clocks. Following this, Gautam Pemmaraju spoke about the beauty and richness of Mizahiya Shairi, a poetic satire in Dakhani (the name for Urdu in the Deccan). The researcher-filmmaker shared his research findings and showed clips from his documentary on the subject. The delightful flavours of Dakhani were brought alive by actors Nisha Dhar and Imran Rashid, who performed a comic piece in the style of nok-jhonk.
Studio Tamaasha is also starting a reading programme this month. Mentored by theatreperson Aslam Parvez, this programme will hold dramatised reading of short stories by Munshi Premchand, Sadat Hasan Manto, Ismat Chugtai, Rajendra Singh Bedi and others. Actor-writer Sapan Saran presented a reading of Manto’s story Khusiya. Dancer Maithily Bhupatkar and musician Santanu Ghatak showcased Taati, a high-energy contemporary dance piece. The evening ended with Jahnavi Srimankar, Avankita Ganguly and Trisha Kale delivering a stirring multilingual musical experience.
Studio Tamaasha is open to anyone who is doing anything with the arts. “We have rented the place for a year. We want to see if it is possible to create an art centre in the neighbourhood,” he adds. The studio has a packed schedule for the next two months. Other than performing its shows, such as Blank Page, Marriagelogy and Waiting of Naseer, Tamaasha, within the next three months, plans to open a new show, specially curated for the studio.