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When in the 1980s,he came to Pune,the lack of a consistent audience for theatre,a very common characteristic of the theatre scene in the city,glared at him.

Written by Shashi Priya | January 8, 2009 1:15:39 am

Theatre academician and practitioner Ralph Yarrow speaks on Samuel Beckett’s minimalist style and the theatre scene in Pune

When in the 1980s,he came to Pune,the lack of a consistent audience for theatre,a very common characteristic of the theatre scene in the city,glared at him. Almost 20 years after that visit this characteristic has vanished,but the traces remain. For academician and practitioner of theatre Ralph Yarrow,the loopholes in the theatre scene in Pune are too wide to go unnoticed. While he agrees that the past 20 years have seen theatre coming out of the clutches of oblivion,he points out that theatre in the city still remains confined to a niche audience.

According to Yarrow,Pune has very few training establishments and they are not enough to tap the immense potential out there. “In the UK,people get trained in a lot many different ways which is not the case here,” says the professor of Drama and Comparative Literature at the University of East Anglia,UK.

In the city to deliver a lecture on Theatre Degree Zero: an exploration of acting and production practice as required by Samuel Beckett,with particular reference to his short plays and to host an acting workshop at the Namdeo Sabhagriha for students of the Lalit Kala Kendra,Yarrow who has also authored the book European Theatre – 1960 – 1990: A Cross-cultural Perspective,shares,”Theatre in India needs social,cultural and economic support which is not happening. Also,the right attitude is missing. People do theatre as part-time or because they are committed to a social cause. They aren’t fully committed to theatre.”

Yarrow feels those related to the field develop every aspect of their personality. “Whether it is communication skills,body movements,being articulate or working with a team,a theatre person sharpens all these skills while learning to be a performer. So,theatre artistes are equipped to do all sorts of things and emerge as highly practical people. I urge everyone to encourage and respect the theatre artiste in themselves.”

Relating Samuel Beckett’s bleak outlook towards human culture and his approach towards breaking the stereotypical moulds prevalent in society,Yarrow elaborates,”Beckett’s plays remove the idea of being an actor from an artiste’s mind. The characters in his plays find themselves at a point from where they can explore as many possibilities as they can. The characters don’t describe things; instead they explore the situation. Beckett’s minimalist approach makes his plays stand out.”

Quoting an instance from one of Beckett’s plays,Yarrow explains,”In this,there were two actors who were supposed to play the role of dustbins. For Beckett,his plays were a process and not a product.”

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