The fifth edition of the IAPAR International Theatre Festival will commence on Friday with two premieres from the ‘Creative Crossover’ project at The Box.
Creative Crossover is an attempt to let two artists from India and abroad collaborate on a project and premiere the work during the festival.
While the physical theatre production ‘Constant Acts of Disobeying’, designed and directed by Aditi Venkateshwaran, explores feminism and the mandate of masculinity, the theatre performance Avyakta (Unexpressed) by performer Ashish Vaze and Stephanie Castrejon (USA), tries to show freedom of expression as understood through individual experiences.
“Until June, we were hopeful that we would do the festival like in previous years with all international performances shortlisted. But after assessing the situation, we decided to move the festival online. However, we thought why not approach this in a creative manner, even if we are doing theatre online?” said Vaze.
When Vaze had met Castrejon, he hadn’t imagined that he would be collaborating on a project continents apart. “Once I spoke to Stephanie and told her about my theme on thought and expression, the questions that came to mind and how the current situations are in both our countries, it was a good fit as she understood it in a complete sense. The topic is vast, has several tangents that can be brought to light, so we decided to just show our own experiences of how we perceive thoughts, ideas, concepts and convictions on a very individualistic level,” he added.
Venkateshwaran said that while reading about feminist movements and the overall steps taken to make the world a better place for women, she was introduced to the work of Argentinian anthropologist Rita Segato, who spearheaded the anti-violence movement in Chile and composed the Anti-Rape Song. “An interesting thought that she mentioned in her work was that feminist movements are not only important for women and to do away with the oppression but are also to liberate men from the mandate of masculinity and to take it down,” she said.
Dwelling on the works of Segato, she reached out to dancers Margot Bareyt from France and Sayli Kulkarni and Tanvi Hegde from India. “While these three women were performing together, they each have their own perceptions and experiences of being a woman with layers that talk about their lives, their culture, their understanding of gender and sexuality. It was interesting to execute the practices, as when Sayali and Tanvi performed together, they also interacted with Margo through a screen. But it was also emotionally taxing when the concept confronted us, a revelation for us and sometimes, it healed us,” she said.
Venkateshwaran described the experience as fascinating but exhausting. “We had aimed for a 10 minute piece, but now it has become a half hour performance and is still the tip of the iceberg of what we want to do, just one-third of what I want to achieve,” she said.
The Creative Crossover not only overcame the obstacles of crossing geographical boundaries and different time zones with the help of online methods, it also challenged artists to do away with the rulebook and own up to the new way of theatre to reopen. “The primary reason to begin on ground theatre was meant to be a gesture that we are still here. The arts, although never considered an essential service, are essential for people to heal, bring peace of mind and relaxation and lastly, to entertain,” said Venkateshwaran.
Although the rehearsals lacked the physical presence that theatre practice performances have, they pushed artists to get flexible with technology. “It was an experiment and an opportunity to interact with an artist overseas, which then led to intermixing of ideas, knowledge and experiences,” said Vaze.
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