Theatre director Hina Siddiqui is taking theatre beyond the script and the stage. Based in Pune, she is developing a performance piece around vignettes of hopes, dreams, fantasies and stereotypes about romantic relationships. “We want to see how gender, media messaging and literature shape our understanding and experience of romantic love,” she says.
This piece is likely to open at the end of July or August, but before that Siddiqui will be conducting a series of workshops at Pune’s Inscape Cowork that revolve around performance art and writing for the stage or screen. She has been working with young learners and teachers since 2008, and is focussing on training people to work with children in various economic and social contexts. “Drama is my key methodology whether I am teaching performing arts, life skills, English, history or gender studies,” she says. Excerpts from a conversation:
How does a theatre workshop address a gap in the education system?
People like me exist outside the education system for a reason. The pressures of syllabi, examinations, competitions and achievements can often shift the focus away from learning to be more human. The idea that we are all — regardless of our age group — learning to be more human is central to working in any learning space in my opinion. What this translates to in a classroom is knowing and believing. Every child in the classroom wants to do their best. What they think is best for them may not what you think is best for them. For the youngest children, having a safe space for exploration is key. For slightly older ones, having a goal that we can accomplish together often works well, while for even older ones, we must additionally track individual paths.
What are the benefits of a community theatre workshop?
The Community Theatre workshop is most common with students, amateur theatremakers and actors, as well as those who want to explore performance as a hobby. The workshop focuses on basic skills like identifying your community of performers and audiences and creating work to build that community. While at one level this workshop will help amateur players develop their own aesthetic, I think it is vital that they root themselves in their community to highlight stories and elevate voices from within that community. This is not just about performance, but a significant way to map our society and bring it closer in these divisive times.
Performance art is a methodology and art form of it’s own, arising from the intersection of visual and performing art. How do you teach it?
This workshop is designed for individuals who want to create a solo piece of theatre using the principles of performance art. I hope to help people define a narrative or story that they want to develop and build a physical performance around it. In a sense, it is the perfect next step for anyone who does the Community Theatre workshop. Eight to ten hours is not enough to build the performance completely, but I hope to work with the participants individually over time, and at a later date stage a collection of the pieces that emerge from this. We had run a longer version of this last year at Inscape Cowork and about seven new performances came out of it.
Creative writing often starts with people having a vague idea or two. How do you enable them?
This workshop is for anyone who has an idea that they want to write a story about. The key to this workshop will be grounding that idea with a character. It often happens that we have an idea about something we saw or want to share but not a solid character through whom we can speak. This workshop will help people develop and flesh out that character and start to tell the story.
The Community Theatre workshop and Performance Art will take place in Inscape Cowork, Pune on April 21