Sawantwadi,a remote village in Konkan region,had next to no connection with drama till the late 1960s. A theatre group started by one Prof. Vijay Phatarpekar introduced young minds of Sawantwadi to drama as an art form. One of the many collegians who got an opportunity to work closely with Phatarpekar was Waman Pandit.
His interest in theatre had him join another theatre group,Natya Darshan,alongside Phatarpekar’s. The association produced and staged full-length Marathi plays. Even after Pandit shifted to Kankavali for a job at a co-operative bank,his heart and mind kept searching for like-minded people to fuel his theatrical interests. An opportunity came in the form of a local function where he took upon himself the onus of planning the celebration line-up.
The idea of hosting a one-act play emerged. The beginning,he says,was small. Neither he nor his friends had an inkling that their initiative would last for decades and get so much recognition. In 1981,Pandit established Vasantrao Acharekar Sanskritik Pratishthan (VASP) in Kankavali.
Over the past 32 years,VASP has not only been instrumental in staging 25 one-act plays and several full-length plays like Chafa,Doosara Samana,Kirvant,Mahapur and Thank You Ajoba,amongst others; but has also been conducting one-act play competitions in Kankavli. Pandits contribution to the drama scene of Kankavli will be honoured with Tanveer Natyadharmee Puraskar by Roopwedh Pratishthan at Yashwantrao Chavan Natyagruha on December 9.
The reason behind VASP managing to command popularity for decades lies in its approach towards its initiatives. Pandit explains,We did many experiments with one-act play competitions. Like,we introduced directors note,wherein the judges used to have discussions with the directors before declaring the final result.
Then we also included primary rounds,which were held a month prior to the main competition and were performed without lights,sound and makeup. The judges used to have discussions with the entire team and offer suggestions for improvements.
Since the last five years,VASP has been holding a writer-centric theatre festival in which all the one-act plays written by a particular playwright are performed by theatre artistes. The festival also sees a public interview with the writer,which is video recorded. Besides,the writers works are also showcased at the festival. VASP has already documented interviews with Ratnakar Matkar,Satish Alekar,Premanand Gajvi and Sannay Pawar.
Srujanchya Wata (Paths of Creation) is the project under which VASP has been conducting theatre workshops for the past two years. Our production Mi Mazyashi was the culmination of a National School of Drama (NSD) workshop conducted here by Atul Pethe. The play was performed at 38 centres across Maharashtra and Goa. The play was also selected for the NSD Bharat Rang Mahotsav in Delhi, he says.
Interestingly,VASP,according to Pandit,is perhaps the only centre to have a script bank which boasts of a collection of 1200-plus scripts of one-act plays,and has its own Kala-granth Sangrahalaya.
Pandit,who has also acted in several plays,says that as a director he found Amba,a play based on the Mahabharata character,his most challenging project so far. This was a stylised drama that demanded heavy drapery,epic settings and live music. What tickled me to this play is the story of a woman betrayed by all the dominant men around her, he recalls.
VASPs collaboration with Theatre Academy,Pune,and Satish Alekar in particular,he says,proved beneficial for the organisation. He unsparingly shared his expertise and experience with us. For many workshops on lighting,stage,voice-culture and music hosted by Theatre Academy,we not only deputed youngsters from VASP but also from Sindhudurg districts for participation, he says.
Talking about future plans,says Pandit,We aim to evolve as an educational centre for fine arts. We would love to start several discourses in collaboration with NSD or Lalit Kala Kendra. For almost a decade,I have been nurturing a dream of bringing out a periodical dedicated to theatre, he concludes.
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