Leaving their mark amongst hundreds of entries at the 18th edition of Thespo, the country’s most anticipated youth theatre festival, were two plays from Pune — Bhanvar and Te Kay Asta — that not only made it to the main events, but also bagged multiple awards. While Bhanvar is about a quirky night watchman and his last day of work at an abandoned factory, Te Kay Asta speaks about the burning need of the hour — sex education in schools. While Bhanvar won five awards altogether, Te Kay Asta bagged an award for Outstanding Ensemble.
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Speaking about Bhanvar which is the story of night watchman and his never-ending night shift, artist Shivraj Vaichal said the play reflects on what happens to the human mind in isolation and loneliness. Bhanvarsingh, the protagonist is a night-shift watchman on duty outside an empty factory. His principle of never sleeping on the job starts to affect his mental activity. As the play progresses, the lines between real life situation and hallucinations start to fade, leaving a character with little hope left in life.
While talking about the experience, Vaichal said, “It was a privilege to perform at such a big level. Performing at Prithvi Theatre was one of my dreams which I have fulfilled with Bhanvar. It was really an exciting experience to perform in front of the people who don’t really know you, or your language. However, the appreciation that I received was enough to tell me about the impact of the solo performance. Overall it was a fantastic experience.” Bhanvar was first solo to win Thespo.
Virajas Kukarni, director, and co-writer of the solo said that we were working on this idea since many years. Finally, last year during solo festival in Pune, we staged this solo for the first time. “Shivraj and I were looking for something that won’t be deliberate and yet needed only a single character on the stage. And in the character of a nightshift’s watchman we found it. We wanted that single artist to be the asset and not the liability.”
The other play, Te Kay Asta which talks about sex education made it to the finale and bagged an award for Outstanding Ensemble. It showcases the situation that rural schools face when sex education is suddenly made compulsory in secondary schools in Maharashtra. It is a humorous take on the state of sex education in India. “After Kopardi rape case, the idea of a play related to sex education struck me and Ramchandra Khatmode, the co-writer. We performed it first at the Purushottam Karandak festival in Pune but ended up in the bottom 10 performances. Yet, we decided to file an entry for Thespo. It was just because of subject and we wanted our topic to reach to as many as possible. And we were confident about the potential of our play,” said Rohit Salunke, co-writer and director.
Spriha Nakhare, festival manager of Thespo, said, “The competition went well. We had entries from all over India. Bhanvar was so outstanding that they won more than half the awards.” Bhanvar bagged awards for outstanding play, direction, acting, supporting role as well as for production design.
Pune-based group Kollage creation also made their appearance with a brief platform performance, Khouf.