ITF 2nd Theatre Seminar: Nurturing Spaces
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The 2nd national seminar held by the India Theatre Forum
intended to address the overall theme of "Spaces of Theatre, Spaces for Theatre" in a wider and holistic manner. It was held between 14 to 18 March 2012 in Ninasam, an extremely special theatre space in Heggodu village of Karnataka which has served as a community centre for over 50 years. The seminar intended to cover a gamut of related topics ranging from the relationship of performing "bodies" to space, to the actual physical spaces of performance, to the politics of the spaces in society , to the new virtual spaces opening up and to the future of Spaces. In other words, the seminar built on the understanding that the act of theatre is always more than simply an act of theatre. To think of theatre and its processes is, ipso facto, to think of its temporal and spatial specificities. However, the main approach of the seminar was not to develop an academic theory of the spaces of/for theatre but to sketch the contours of a "spaciology" of theatre as perceived by its practitioners.
Ninasam, Heggodu, Karnataka
And this actually mocked a major epoch of Kannada theatre. And in a way it actually mocks all of us. It was the big bang for us because we all resonated with what happened in those three days and Kannada theatre was influenced by that single event. But curiously it also meant although the thatre was shut down, although one space was shut down, the plays were still performed near the Ravindra Kalakshetra rather than go to some other place because the postal address mattered. Because it had created a theatre going habit already, it was an address to come to and it was really important to keep that continuity and it worked. Ravindra Kalkshetra doesn't work as well any more. And as one of my friends Naresh Narasimhan once put it, the centre of gravity has somewhat shifted because of th epresence of Rangashankara.
At bangalore. But there are all kinds of performing spaces and they are all active and they do all kinds of theatre, so I'm not making a value judgement on that. But I bring the Kalakshetra story because after this morning's kind of inspirational session with these three stalwarts, we have now three more extraordinary stories of Shukracharya Raba from Assam, Andreas Ungers from Hamburg, my pronounciation may be really bad, please forgive me and my Kannada friends never tire of reminding me that my Kannada is suspect also. And Vikram Iyengar from Kolkata. Because what their struggle will tell you is that they not only found space but that they also made it.
Prakash Belwadi: Afternoon everybody. I think we are starting about 15 minutes late. and I think If we don't want a suspension in the kind of in the evening. I think we should start right away.You know after the first two three days of the seminar and the sessions. I thought I would make some kind of a joke and say that to me a space means a place to put a postal address and I think that actually reminded me of something that happened in 1972 in Bangalore In 1972 in Bangalore Ravindra Kalakshetra was shut down and every now and then we shut down the Ravindra Kalakshetra for renovation
in the sense that they not only found space but they also created an audience for those spaces. They trained an audience to come to these spaces and the stories of training especially from Shukracharya are really interesting and I hope he sort of enlarges on that. And they have created a successful practice out of these What we will do is to get them to present on these spaces. Maybe they will speak for 15 minutes each, withe presentations and then if there is something else to probe and ask I will actually probe and ask. Otherwise I will just open it out for discussion.
I also need to present my credentials here and why am I presenting these great stories here. Its because I hink the organisers have been kind to me and I'm lucky and I'm from Karnataka. Nevertheless I must tell you something about my story as well and I'll ask to bear with me because I'm going to tell you in detail what we are going to do as we carry on. I was acting as Naseem in Girish Karnad's Tughlaq in 2004 in an English Language production. And I had a young theatre friend Shiva Subramanian who was playing Sahabuddhin in the same play. And as you know we both die after the first act, we don't have anything to do, so we were sitting for three days in the Kamani green room.
waiting for the play to finish so that we can go and have a drink later, and we would get talking and we got to know each other very well in that time. And he said what do you do and I said. "Am I serial loser. I don't do anything. I don't know. But I would like to build a production and training centre for both theatre and moving images. And he said I have a building and I have inherited the entire 5th Floor of the building. Because Cisco has found their own space and vacated. Its a really big address in Bangalore. Earlier Texas instrumets was there. you know. On cunningham road at the junction of Millers Road. Its fairly central you know. And he said if you want to do something there. I thought what can you do in the 5th floor of a building. But I went and saw the space.
more than 6000 sq. ft. Of course there was nothing. Everything had been pulled out. There were wires hanging because the false ceiling had been pulled down. And I said, yeah I can build a school here. And an art gallery and an auditorium. But he said the ceiling is only 10 foot high. But how can you build a theatre here? But there with the help of theatre friends in Bangalore notably Shashidhar Adappa. We build a 650 sq ft theatre, stage and a 92 seater hall. And we did all kinds of tricks. We painted the ceiling black to make it look and put some 4 inch frills so that you get a sense of infinity. We put wings. We did some acoustics created our own thing. Then I got dinkys, because it's small throw to light the space. But the bulb would burn out after half an hour. So we experimented and got German photoflash bulbs and put them inside.
We did all kinds of things and we built what I thought was a fabulous kind of space. With very good lighting. We got 5.1 Dolby sound and we put in projection there and from 2004 till about 2010 we ran screenings there continuously of international cinema, about 5 screenings a week at the peak time, we did many theatrical productions some of which went to win awards,a nd we also ran a newspaper. We did many experiments. We ran a newspaper for 2 years, a tabloid newspaper. The Times of India came out with the Bangalore Mirror and then we shut down. We couldn't compete with that. And then we ran a photography studio and then an art gallery. It was an open space anyone could come in. And there were many seminars and discussions, literary meetings, I mean everything.
And that space became very successful. But we went on a revenue sharing basis, where Shiva would lend the space and I would build the infrastructure and both of us really lost a lot of money on that. But what happened was that many people came there. And notably a team from Sweden came and that resulted in a kind of a collaboration effort. And we eventually we got a letter from Sweden to build a school for cinema and dramatic arts with an affiliation to Gothenburg University Sweden, there is a fim school there. And then Sucita Film Socety which is a 40 year old organisation looked at us and then with the help of Prof. Manu Chakraborthy, Vidhyashankar and I we formed a trust still called Centre for Film and Drama under Suchitra, because Suchitra has this 30,000 sq. ft of Land in Bangalore. It's prime space and it must be worth 30 crores now. And they said why don't you come and build a theatre somewhere here?
So now we actually have this space. We have a space for 130 years secured from the govt. We have this collaboration with Gotenburg University. And we under Manu's instance we went and met Dr Ananthamurthy who agreed to become the chairperson of our trust and school. We have everything in place we don't have money. We think we will get it. But in the meantime we have continued to do productions. We also made a fim that went to festivals and all that. And we at Sucitra are now doing. Suchitra already has a 125 seater small auditorium and there we have continued our activites. Though for bigger performances we have always gone to Rangashankara. We have also built a small rehearsal space at Suchitra now. About 650 sq.ft of rehearsal space. Actually that is the great crisis because you know there are no rehearsal spaces and that space will be inagurated on March 27 because it is world theatre day.
And we don't know what we have done with this, but these are early days for us. Even though we are 6 or 7 years old. Because we have a very large vision, a big ambition. So that is what we are upto , so I'll come back to this subject because we really want help and these presentations have been really fantsatic for us. So now I will call upon Shukracharya Raba, Vikram Iyengar and Ungers to come to the stage. Ok you can sit there because there are presentations and later for he discussion come on. Andreas thinks that lot of you who are sitting on the side lose the energy of the presentation so he wants you all to come into the centre.Towards the narrower portion.
Shukracharya in Hindi
My name is Andreas Unger and I'm from Hamburg and I would like to introduce you to a theatre that is run by me. To begin, we will begin - the space has found me, not the other way around.I started professional theatre works in 1990 and I never went on stage and performed and I never really directed. Its running. Anyway, I go shortly back. This is whats the beginning is. The space has found me. And after a short before I had to sign a contract in a leading position in a theatre school Hannover schule. wanted me to talk. And I came to my birthtown Hamburg after many years in 2003, and I stand in front of this hall built in the late 60's and early 70's and thought. No you are not going to get in dependence again to a theatre, you run your own space. And when you do something like this in Hamburg you have to rent the space, we cant buy buildings like this.
too expensive the law is complicated. the ground in Germany is in private hands and so is this hall. The contract about renting ends, except well this green thing that stops people from falling down. One day he found a yacht that is fit for the high sea and put it directly in front of our stage and that stands now, its something that people have to accept. They have to pass this beautiful ship and as I say this is my yacht, but I run out of money for petrol, but one day, one day. And the people then come down here and they don't know what they should atually do here because what do you do in a place like this when you expect to see a Shakespeare or dance theatre piece? But that changes immediately when they open the door and see this.
This is the entrance and there is a bar on the right hand side and that is some posters when we made some photos some Indian performances and that is other advertising India. And when you stand on the bar and you see in the direction of the stage, you see this mighty red curtain. And the audience space is about 150 people. Really relaxed sitting. This is from behind, the audience, thats where the technicians are sitting out. Put your regards on the lamps, these are Ian Mc Evan thank you from the British who after the war came to build the television and television studio and they brought these wonderful lamps and they are still working for us.
I didn't have to pay any Euro for them thank you. Amm...another view and now the curtain opens and when the curtain opens you see a stage which is 11 meters in the front and 12 meters to the back and all is about 130 sq. mts. You have a rig above it, where the lamps hang and the technik is and when you look from the stage in to the audience thats what the dancers love very much, you see this. You see when I came back to Hamburg I had no Euro in my pockets to start something like this and still I don't have any pence. When I found this hall I decided for me that it must be possible and Jean Guy would say yeah yeah it is. To build theatre in a used space in a used stage in a used technik and a used lighting used sound. So i went around and found for kind many people I knew and asked what I thought was possible.
So I brought this fixed stage that was thrown out of a musical theatre. I bought these chairs from a school which just got new monier. And some wood and this rig was anyway to thrown away. So everything came bit by bit together without carrying regular because I didn't sign a contract to them. I knew that I would take at least one year for me to start so what I did was. I sat on my desk and start to write something, something lyrical down because I wanted to apply for Michael Darlene for 10,000 euro to start a new company. And I said, I offer this hall and I come from a theatre company. So I decide to produce some funny comedies and make tours to the sea side and wrote this down for 5-6 pages and make a finance plan and
of fantastic numbers that no one would see in real and I gave it in to the government and they just decided what a fantastic idea. And they gave me the money so I had 10,000 euros to live , to telephone and to move into a little office. And meanwhile, the stage was built for me and they was a day for me the 9th of September 2004 where I wanted to start the whole thing. What I did is of course I built a whole page and printed some fliers and invited a lot of people for the open day, so everybody could come and announced the first shows that would be on. And I made a big mistake and that was that the announcement of the show ends with the bar is opened. So the people of the offices of the government read this.
And after the first week the stood in my door, we see you did not have any licence for what you do to put drinks on the bar. Sorry we have to close down the place. I said, gentlemen you are right. I am a nasty person I don't have any license. So what we have to do is we have to close the place. See they were sitting a 120 people inside and waiting for the show to start. So you go in there and tell them that you are going to close the space. And he had a slight view about the corner and said we are coming back tomorrow and then the place is closed do you understand? yes yes, I understand. That you for having this show. thank you. Next day again they turn up at the same time and there was a 135 people sitting and I asked him the same, please tell them that you are going to close.
So actually they asked me to come to the office the day after. And it made sense that theatre is something. I think it makes something for the theatre is a mystical space of theatre. Mystical thing theatre and we should have it. And they had to give me, we should have it. I applied for the licenses and they came back and actually I remembered in November 2009. So if I would have gone the legal way it would never have been Hamburg. We I always say we because from the beginning I try to build up a community for people who work with me. The main thing we did is we removed, the seating where the audience sits and we had the seating built on tables. A good friend of mine had to cook for us and we invited a lot of people from the Hamburg theatre scene to eat with us and discuss several things like you do here, about
the theatres. So from the beginning we did it 50 times so they were a 30 to a 100 people coming from the scene be rented ususto the place, eating together and developing ideas on what is to be done in a place like this. Better in Germany. I would need some water. I would need some more if someone friendly could bring somemore. Ah, building up this community of actors, of stage designers of directors, of costume designers mae the heart of the schiswann. The schiwewann is a place which is not to be rented usually. If someone comes to do a serious thing and pays a serious price we do it from time to time, but usually we also share the box office the artists also get 60 or 70% and with 30-40% we run the house. But the ideas come from the fireseven and they decide the pieces and they will show outside.
They come for the first night, they decide if it has to be two days, if it has to be desperately three days for set up and then they play live to 3 to 5 times and then the next group appears. And it is out of this circle who has lost the big performance space countlagen by the international kulture which has really turned into a space where the Hamburgian artist is not easy to see anymore. A photographer with some artificial background has photoclicked this. A few times pictures are over each other. We see in this structure of the ceiling, the whole space is about 400 sq. mts big and there is also flats up here where we are sitting. The office work. The photographer turned round from the stage side as well.
then it looks like this. The white thing stands the white thing is the carpet. And so it's cut a bit like this. Sometimes people come to. I want to show photos as proof. Thats what the space looks like when its crowded. I love it. I love it very very much.And on this stage a lot of dance theatre goes on. We do have speech theatre but it's a bit difficult to sell because we have got two big big theatres who do amazing work and of course that is the first address that people come to. But dance theatre is something that is really well wanted by the people. And this is some pictures of the only artificial work I did during that time.
I wrote a 3 hours piece, that is really amazing story that I found, it was in Belgium in the year 1943 and the group of young Jewish people had the braveness to stop deportion train on the way to Auschwitz only with a lamp opened up the wagons and let the and more than a 1000 people escaped. This story is nearly not told. There is only one documentation book about it. And it was a hard thing for me to tell this story. And so we didn't use the stage. We played in front of the stage and we built such a construction in front of the audience. We used only one moment where the people who escape were caught by the SS and put back into concentration camps.
We also opened the empty space above and there was this meeting that was really moving. So we come a little while and rented from the buiding on the next side to the theatre on the ground floor to have a something like a foyer, where our people come and we work on the side and for us really it is life all th etime, we sit and sometimes meet and have parties and sights like this. And this is Vishat who is cooking for us whenever I ask him to come.And we could open up another room which we use for rehearsals. And use as a small stage and divided enough from the theatre so that it is not disturbed even if there is live music session going on. So here we are at the entrance again. So just close it for a second please.
Ah, this is called the schiner I'd like to talk to you about it. Then you can open again, what the future will bring. Hamburg scrank will move within the next six months. I really don't believe that theatre is addicted to real estate. So all I want to do is to get a greater community of hard working people living together their daily world with the stage. We found this place which is quite huge without pillars at all. Focus a little sharper. It doesn't matter. Even in the centre of Hamburg. The building belongs to the city of Hamburg but we can rent it from them an get a long time contract we hope.
We are in negotiations. So but we artists we like to apply for the space and they say, go on no n no. We have someone who is really paying money for that like a film producing thing or something. So we said no no no no, we don't give up. We ourselves first sit down and built up a model to see how the space would look like. An yeah the set up. Here the police, it belongs the whole building and training space for the policemen to shoot. And they shoot along these long ways and the bullet shells are collected here. So there is an outside foyer which could be used. So we built a model which we think how this space could be used.
before we went to the architects. And we say we need rehearsal space. We say we will one rehearsal, four reherasal spaces. This will be the theatre space. This will be the entrance, this will be the set up and we will put another flat on it so now I just cut it. The most important point, that will be another flat so that will be 8 rehearsal spaces. 200 sq. mts which can be used and a cellar for storage and craftsroom and altogether we are 10 not companies 10 associations that are working like a dance school for modern dance, an actors school coming and there's a theatre with handicapped people coming in. There is a children's theatre coming in and some musicians who do acapella have played in the cellar and spaces for rock music rehearsals and all these together we would build up a co-operative and be as one rentor against the landlord the city of Hamburg
And after they saw all these, this model they said oh yeah, this sounds great. And now we are in the political process to let this dream become true, if the city would give. We don't know if the city would give, the numbers exactly, but it would between two and six million euros, which will be invested into this project and in the middle of it will be a theatre with 200 seats and a stage as big as Hamburg Schine stag is now. its a view from the stage and from the back row and the Hamburg Shwinnstag will move out and leave this wonderful yacht behind. I think we can't take it with us. Yeah thats the plans for the future. Now I'm through and I'm happy to gove the microphone back to you.
Thank you Andreas. Those were really two stories of entrepreneurship, you know. And him saying that theatre is not really addicted to real estate. So they are saying that it is a process and there is a way to construct both the performance practice and the community participation practice as well. And you see these two models is actually put up and done at a personal financial risk and in the case of Shukracharya from his inheritance he has done it and Andreas' case it is actually from the space and perhaps some financial risk he has managed to build this. Just one more case of Vikram you should hear, of his own space he has actually managed to convert into a performance space. So Vikram...
Firstly I'd like to say that ours is not a performance space unfortunately. We have just heard from two people who have created two wonderful performance spaces. Ours is a what is called a Ranan workspace, Ranan is the name of my group. Its a space where we make our work its a space where we invite others to share their work, I'll talk a little about who or what Ranan is, which will help to put things in perspective. Ranan. I am a classical dancer by training, theatre came into my life much much later. And Ranan was set up by me and my colleague in 2004 ..... both of us trained together, both of us are Kathak dancers, the idea behind Ranan was to make, to demystify classical dance and make it accessible to more and more people, so that more and more people felt comfortable interacting with work that comes out of classical dance.
Sathish Alekar this morning was talking about the habit of Riyaaz which for dancers and musicians who are trained in the classical mode, I do not know about other things, is a given. Whether you are working towards a performance or not the practice is a given and thats not neccessarily a given for the modern Indian actor. So that was some thing that ..... and I were having difficultites with. Because we had started this company but were only able to work from production to production to production. We were really not able to have a space to actually just practise. Ah I did my practise separately, she did her practise separately, thats another thing. But to come together as a group and collectively have a rehearsal session was not an option we could explore. I think this i sthe same note, rehearsal spaces in India are terribly difficult to come by.
At least there is no space in Kolkata which is given over to groups just to rehearse performance. You are constantly competing with a bhajan group that wants to reherase some bhajan sandhya there, or a memorial something that is going to happen. So you are constantly shifting and negotiating and spending time coming in and going out. So if you have booked the space for two hours you actually get to use it for one and a half, which as we all know is a completely inefficient way of working. You can't leave stuff there, you cant work with props, you can't work with costumes, you can't work with sets. Its more anguish than anything else to be forced to work in a situation like that. And you can't put in a concerted amount of time into just playing with the elements of performance that you want to work with.
So these were the ideas that were sort of inspiring us to look for a space. Um so after we got the space in 2008 all this changed and its only after this that the Ranan performance collective came into being. Before that it was a production company but this was the first time a concerted group cohesive group which formed around an idea, a group which I can now call my own, only after we had this space, simply because we had a space to call our own. Where we could come and work and play and be with each other. So what is this space, where is it. Its a ground floor space in South Kolkata, just off the main thoroughfare where you can have all sorts of transports - bus tram taxi metro cyclerickshaw everything. Yu can walk there of course. And its easily accessible at any time of the day or night.
and this is as big a practice as a theatre performance, shutting down Ravindra Kalakshetra for renovation. And Because the performance space inside was not available Kannada theatre enthusiasts I shouldn't even call them activists brought together and mounted some knid of a performance platform adjacent to the building outside the Ravindra Kalakshetra. This was 1972. I was 10 or 11 years old and I didn't see these performances. But I will tell you what the performances were. They did 3 plays. They did Lankesh's translation of Oedipus, they did Lankesh's original play Sankranthi, and they did Chandrashekhar Kambar's Jo kumaraswami. Now why was it important I will tell you. Because Lankesh
Its a ground floor space in an apartment building. It's about 550 sq. ft altogether. Its not huge. But it was originally conceived of as a commercial stroage space by a company and we bought it from the owners and used it. And because it was used as a storgae space it has no walls just one pillar, which conveniently designates a space that we use as our office space. It has a height of 15ft which enables us to work with a lot of height, vertical movement, which you can't do in any other space, that was available to us at that time. A little bit of storage space is also there above the bathroom. So location... so the first photograph is taken from the main road going towards Ranan, Ranan is just behind the car on the right.
The bottom two show the driveway to the space and the lift window.Ranan,. You notice the collapsible shutter here, its very convenient for us, because even though the entrance you see the door here you have to go around that for the main entrance, but when we have to bring props in and out, sets in and out we just push the shutter and use it.So what did it look like when we first got it? I don't have photographs of that, it was quite frightful. But I do have photographs of what we began to do to the space. Before that, we have three spaces which I'll come back to towards the end. There is a rehearsal space which is 17ft x 13ft, where we really do most of the work. We have mirrored one wall, there is a small bit of office space and there is another area where when we have our Kathak class parents are waiting there or where we have our meetings.
So this is the photograph of the four spaces.The first photograph is teh carpenter trying to finish the mirroring. I thinking it was the day before the house warming. It was very worrying. That is the other end of the space, the mirror is on the left hand of the photograph.And this is if you are looking into the meeting area from the performance area you'll see that the shutter there is half open and the door is open. The sets go in and out. And this is a selection of some of the photographs of after. At the housewarming. This is the mirrored wall of the rehearsal section. Thats it. Thats our guests during the house warming we had a little program of poetry reading, music during the house warming. That's our Kathak students doing a little performance during the house warming.
And this is how the space looks now. Its an Oct 2010 photograph, but this is what it looks like at the moment taken from the wall looking into the performance space, looking into the meeting space. And office space beyond. So what does our space enable. What does having my own space mean? Basically four things, it enables an attention to quality, professional functioning, resource for other groups and helps us to build value for the arts. I'll talk very briefly about each of these. Attention to quality I have already mentioned the idea of Riyaz and regular practice. Just having a space of our own gives us an opportunity to be working on our own practice throughout the year. Whether or not we have a production to work towards. It gives us space to situate our Kathak classes, it also brings us revenue and from that revenue maintenance costs are covered. We like most performance groups in India, a very few of us are full time. So we can't actually start working till 4.30 in the evening or even 6 - 6.30. Having your own space means we can work till 2 in the night because its my space.
Where as it would not be possible in a rented space. Professional functioning - we store all our stuff there, create our props there, test technicalities make up costume and very importantly it becomes a centre for us to function from in terms of adminstration and logistics.occassionally we give it out to other groups to come in and do their work. But very importantly, something we have been looking at in the last couple of years, it helps us to really engage in building value for the arts. We have our own space and Ranan since 2005 as early as that, we have been programming events in partnership with other groups where we've engaged with not through performances but through discussions and sharing with small groups of audiences so that we can actually bridge the gap between performers and the rest of society.
Having our own space enables us to do that in our way and i'll come to that in a minute. And it also gives us a space to develop programs for places such as schools which we have been doing at the moment. So i'll just take you through a series of photographs of the kind of work that the space enables. This is 2008, look at the vertical space. This is a much more recent piece where we are doing a movement interaction using dance. And this is a text-to-movement improvisation that we are working on. Ranan is presently working with a company in the UK on a collaborative piece developmental project. They will work with us in December for two weeks, workshopping the whole group and again had we not had our own space it would not have been possible.
So these are just some photographs from that. Things like this ladder, especially if you are in a workshopping process you don't know what is going to be thrown up. Now the ladder lives in Ranan so the ladder and this cloth are readily available so if you need to work with it, you don't need to go and get it or wait for the next day, its readily available for us to use, right then and there. Classes and repertory sessions. This is a Kathak class for beginner students. That is Debashree by the window standing and doing the Kathak teacher. Thats the sort of the middle group of Kathak students. We also conduct choreography and advanced Kathak training for the senior students, and also we schedule theory of dance, which is not something that most dance training institutes look at all. We look at theory to get our examination grades but we don't actually look at the theory of imagination why dance is crafted the way it is crafted.
Theory including history, including all the facets that going into creating a rich repertory of classical dance. It also gives us room to try out sets and props this is again from 2008 rehearsals for reckless. This was a 300 Rs ladder, the first one broke so we got another. And because we were able to try out things like this we were able to design our own ladder. Again the first one didn't work, so we had to design another one. But this ladder came to us a month before we opened which meant that by the time we were performing, by the time we opened, we were using the ladder as if it had belonged to us all our lives. Costume trials, make up trials all possible because we have our own space. Moving on to not just Ranan but beyond Ranan what we use the space for. Workshops and demonstrations sometimes they are just limited to the repertory depending on numbers bu often we open it out to others and they are paid workshops and they also contribute to
bringing in revenue to cover the costs of the space. The cost of the space is actually quite minimal. It's not a very big space it does not cost very much to maintain. These are some photographs from workshops we had day there. Demonstration by Anita Ratnam. This is some addas that we have really focussed on in the last couple of years. What is an adda? We get in somebody who happens to be passing through the city - it could be a poet, a musician, a dancer, a theatre person any body who wishes to share something about their experience, something specific about their experience and generate a discussion around it. So this is something that we are constantly programming at Ranan, this is for the repertory but also thrown open to anyone who gets to attend. So we have had poets, Sampoorna and Anjum, we had Mehmood Farooqui, this is a contemporary dancer from Poland. You will notice that each adda can be set up differently because the space doesnt have any furniture furniture. Also depending on how many people, time of day, weather
what kind of set up the presenter is comfortable with we can keep switching or if there is a screening we can set it up differently so that you can actually project on to that wall. And have a discussion after the screening as well. I touched briefly upon our idea of working with schools.I wont go into it deeper, but the school connect is something we are focusing on deeply at the moment.And what we had done is its all very well to draft a proposal and say this is how we want to work with schools but because we had our own space we were able to invite teachers and principals into our space and into Ranan spirit and it was amazing how just seeing where we work and how we work enthuse the discussion and the interaction, the will to make school connect possible with Ranan was that much easier. This is the Ranan pillar which we have used as our message board. Anyone conducts a workshop there, thats an adda there, any sort of thing they all leave their message on that wall.
Several, some people have left a message - Sada, Sameera they left messages on the Ranan board which are still there. I think the most important thing about this space is that it enables groups to come together, it enables the group to locate themselves somewhere they feel at home. And the kind of work we do now and the kind of experimentation, and the kind of ensemble we are able to work with would not have been possible if we did not have our own space. So it also enables people to be incredibly silly as you can see. But it also enables people to relax, too much sometimes. And as I said a bit of madness is never far away. Thats Deboshree and me who founded the company and thats Deboshree and another dancer and we have a series of silly photographs like this taken in our space. Photographs that we would only actually take at home. Very quickly. What are our plans for Ranan, what have we done?
SO far with the space. I should mention that we are very very lucky to have Anubha as part of our core group, who is sitting there somewhere trying to disappear, whose an architect as well as an actor, so it really helps when you need a limited space that you need to use variably.
became a kind of iconic figure in Karnataka in the years to come. Big playwright, he won the Swarnakamal for his first film, he ran a really provocative newspaper called Lankesh Patrike. Extremely successful one. And he became a major voice of the new Kannada consciousness. It was the epoch because it mocked the renaissance of the new Kannada culture. Lankesh came into prominence in theatre at least because of that. BV Karanth directed the three plays. Chandrashekhar Kambar became famous with that production of Jo Kumaraswamy. Karnad acted as Oedipus. He also acted as the villainous Gowda in Kambar's play. And Karanth and Kambar provided the music also for the 3 plays.
So all our work since then has a very strong Kathak component. We do the traditional Kathak repertoire we do new choreography, and do a lot of experimentations with dance and theatre.Working with dancers, working with actors, working with designers, so we really have a collaborative approach to making performance. Which is why though our official name is Ranan we refer to ourselves as the Ranan performance collective. So as I said we set up in 2004 in Kolkata, and we got our space on the 29th of April 2008 which is when I signed the sale deed. 29th of April is world dance day so that was a very nice thing to happen for us. But just to give you a context of how we were functioning before that between 2004 - 2008. It was a very ad-hoc style of functioning.