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Author: Contributed by Q Theatre Productions
Source: The Script
In our inaugural column we take a look at Thespo, brought to you by QTP.

Thespo was conceived by Theatre Group Bombay, Bombay's oldest theatre group that has produced such legends as Ebrahim Alkazi, Gerson da Cunha and Alyque Padamsee. The idea behind the festival was to encourage, recognise and create a platform for young talent, thereby giving birth to new and exciting ideas in the theatre. This year Thespo hits its first landmark birthday, FIVE. So in celebration of our half decade we have put in a series of exciting innovations including opening up to plays from Delhi, multi-languages, remodelling the award and brochure which features a series of articles on theatre. But the coup de grace is the awarding of the Thespo for Lifetime Achievement to legendary actress Zohra Segal, who has enthralled audiences for the last seventy years with her wonderful characters and performances. The presentation will be made on the 21st of December 2003 at the NCPA Experimental at the Lipton Thespo Awards Nite. The tribute will also include a small audio visual and the presentation of the award by Shabana Azmi and Shashi Kapoor.

The term Thespo is derived from a Greek poet named “Thespis” who pioneered spoken dialogue, breaking the tradition of chorus and verse. And just as he became the first recorded winner of a prize for tragedy in 534 BC, we hope that the 'thespo-ans' will continue in his footsteps.

This year Thespo started on 11th December, with its curtain raiser at Oxford bookstore. The plays go on all week from Tuesday to Sunday.

Tickets for the fest as always will be subsidised for students. Non Student tickets are Rs. 80/- and for students, Rs. 40/-. (Student tickets need to be accompanied by ID cards). To book your tickets or for more information simply call us on 2639 2688 or email us on qtp@vsnl.com. The current box office opens on the 16th of December in the NCPA Experimental Foyer.

THURSDAY, 11 DEC. 7:30 P.M. OXFORD BOOKSTORE Curtain Raiser: A few excerpts from the festival, including scenes from plays and platform performances.
TUESDAY, 16TH DEC. 2:00 P.M. - 6:00 P.M. JAMSHED BHABHA REHEARSAL ROOM Workshop: "Theatre Activism - with special focus on India's Denotified Tribes" by Daxin Bajarange
6.30 P.M. NCPA EXPERIMENTAL FOYER Platform Performance: Chain
7:00 P.M. NCPA EXPERIMENTAL Play: Ek Chauthai Aasman (Hindi)
An original play about the unsaid part of relationships
Workshop: "Ha Ha... & Again a Ha!" (On comic acting) by Joy Fernandes.
6:30 P.M. NCPA EXPERIMENTAL FOYER Platform Performance: On Women
7:00 P.M. NCPA EXPERIMENTAL Play: The Trial (English)
The play is a stylistic rendition of the complex trial that Joseph K. undergoes, not for any crime, but for not daring to "snatch at life with twenty hands".
Workshop: "The Process Within - An Acting Workshop" by Sunil Shanbag
6:30 P.M. NCPA EXPERIMENTAL FOYER Platform Performance: Chain
7:00 P.M. NCPA EXPERIMENTAL Play: Ek Chauthai Aasman (Hindi)
An original play about the unsaid part of relationships.
3:00 P.M. - 5:30 P.M. JAMSHED BHABHA
Workshop: "The Audience Is Listening..." (On sound in theatre) by Jiten Merchant.
6:30 P.M. NCPA EXPERIMENTAL FOYER Platform Performance: Voodoo.
7:00 P.M. NCPA EXPERIMENTAL Play: Dinner With Friends (English)
A dark comic play which takes an honest look at the issues of commitment an fidelity in today's world.
Workshop: "Theatrically Speaking" (On voice in theatre) by Partap Sharma.
6:30 P.M. NCPA EXP FOYER Platform Performance: The Beggar's Court
7:00 P.M. NCPA EXP Play: Naga-Mandala (English)
A traditional folk play by Girish Karnad exploring the thin line between appearance and reality through dance and dialogue.
Workshop: "Truth of a Moment" (On text interpretation and acting) by Akash Khurana.
6.30 pm NCPA EXP FOYER Platform Performance: Something Relevant (Band)
7 pm NCPA EXP Play: Shatranj Ke Khiladi (Urdu)
A one-man retelling of Premchand's famous story, drawing remarkable and chilling parallels with our modern day obsessions.
8: 15 pm NCPA EXP Lipton Thespo Awards Night
Here's a little something about the plays being staged at Lipton Thespo 2003

Tuesday, 16 December 2003
"DHANDA" (Marathi & English)
Directed by: Kshitee Jog

Inspired by a newspaper article, this original play explores the volatile partnership between crime and politics. The 'Dhanda' of elections, juxtaposed with that of prostitution - a harsh reminder of the dirty under belly of our urban surroundings. The play is a real, hard hitting, no holds-barred and yet insight ridden look at politico-prostitution nexus. Staged by Backstage Group Bombay, this play cleaned out at the Lipton Thespo Bangalore 2003 Awards Night, taking home Thespos for Best Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor, Direction and Play.

Wednesday, 17 December 2003
Steven Berkoff's "THE TRIAL" (English)
Directed by: Scherazade Kaikobad

The Trial takes you on a journey into the mind of Kafka's anti-hero, the nympholeptic Joseph K. Unfasten your seat belt, for the journey is slow and meandering, the entrance to each corridor blocked by a door of self-delusion the key to which is held by a reluctant K. The aim of this quest is the attainment of self-realization, the stripping away of the face you have prepared to "meet the faces that you meet", the truth about yourself that has the potential to make or break you. For you are Joseph K, trapped behind the face you have prepared for the world. This is your trial. You are guilty of accepting the world on its terms; of not daring to "snatch at life with twenty hands"; of standing before an open door and waiting for permission to enter…

The bare stage represents the emotional wasteland of Joseph K. The play is a stylistic rendition of Kafka's complex trial; an exciting journey sometimes bewildering sometimes humourous through the mental turmoil of Joseph K, using the wonderful device of 'actor-props'.

Thursday, 18 December 2003
Directed by: Gopi Puthran

Ek Chauthai Aasman epitomizes the dilemmas and choices faced by throngs of young couples in today's metropolitan India. Caught between two worlds, one which exemplifies the western lifestyle and the other quite obviously the tradition and value based Indian system - the youth of today are still groping for principles that are sound and infallible. But again this play is less about the value system and more about those poignant moments in a man - woman relationship. It is about a generation whose individuals know where they want to reach and how they want to reach there. Replete with stylistic devices and strong performances, the play takes us through the range of married relationships, from exuberance, to laughter, to compromise, to deception, to dishonesty to reconciliation.

Friday, 19 December 2003
Donald Marguiles' "DINNER WITH FRIENDS" (English)
Directed by: Kaushik Shankar

Donald Margulies' "Dinner With Friends" received the 2000 Pulitzer Prize in Drama. The play is a rare gem - a questioning, moral play that takes an honest look at the issues of commitment and fidelity in today's world. The play deals with two couples who have been close for a long time, but now one couple is going through a divorce. Throughout the play, relationships are questioned and reorganized. The still-married couple find themselves assessing the strength of their own relationship and mourning the little corner of their world, which dies when their friends divorce.

Saturday, 20 December 2003
Girish Karnad's "NAGAMANDALA" (English)
Directed by: Arati Punwani and Maria Julia
A playwright who thinks sleep will kill him, flames with attitudes and opinions, a story that has jumped out of a woman's mouth, and a girl who is in love with a cobra. Girish Karnad's play tells the story of a new bride who is rejected by her husband. In her naivety she is seduced by a King Cobra who assumes the guise of her husband. They fall in love, and only the true test of purity can prevent her from being ostracized. This traditional folk play about the thin line between appearance and reality is told by blending the contemporary with the classical and movement with dialogue.

Sunday, 21 December 2003
Premchand's "SHATRANJ KE KHILADI" (Urdu)
Directed by: Amitesh Grover

The story is set in the period of Nawab Wajid Ali Shah when the people of Lukhnow drowned themselves in petty and perverse indulgences. The two protagonists of the story are obsessed with the game of chess. Their desire to outdo each other in chess comes at a huge price -they lose their wealth, their social status, their families and finally their own lives. Through a simplistic narrative Premchand constructs a gentle irony, which draws complex parallels between the desire to escape, even ignore the larger responsibility to participate in society within a socio-political capacity and the self-consuming desire to win in the game of chess (which itself requires a political mind at work) at any cost! This production is a one man retelling of the famous story, drawing remarkable and chilling parallels with our modern day obsessions.


About the Workshops
This years workshops at Thespo deal with quite a wide range of subjects. The idea is not only to teach but also inform and create awareness about the potential of the theatre and also some of its less discussed processes.

You can register for more than one workshop. We urge you to register as soon as you decide because word of mouth has already generated quite a bit of excitement about them. If you want to know more about any workshop or want to find out whether a particular workshop is suitable for you please don't hesitate to call or e-mail. Thanks and act fast.

To register for the workshops open to all please e-mail (qtp@vsnl.com), or call in (26392688/9821191718) with your name and phone number and we'll confirm your place. For the others please follow the process detailed here. Any requirements (CV, personal details etc.) can be e-mailed. All workshops are free and are held at the Jamshed Bhabha Theatre Rehearsal Room, NCPA. They are as follows -

Tue 16th Dec: Theatre Activism: with special focus on India's denotified tribes. By Daxin Bajarange
Daxin Bajarange has been using theatre to communicate the plight of denotified tribes through street plays and other theatre forms. He has worked extensively in trying to remove social stigma against these tribes, who have unjustly been labeled thieves and dacoits. The police do not need to have warrants or reasons to arrest people from denotified leading to tremendous atrocities, all of which form the basis and inspiration for many of his plays.
The workshop is open to all.

Wed 17th Dec: "Ha Ha... & Again a Ha!" by Joy Fernandes
Comic acting is deliberate, intentional, timing conscious and exhilarating. The workshop will aim to introduce the participants to their comic acting skills through a series of specific theatre exercises and games.
There is no specific eligibility but it would probably benefit people who have some stage or theatre experience or those looking to seriously pursue acting actively. Do email us a general CV with age and relevant experience. This is not a workshop to be taken lightly.
But hurry, there are only 15 slots open!

Thurs 18th Dec: "The Process Within - An Acting Workshop" by Sunil Shanbag
The workshop explores the internal processes of acting. Exploring the emotional processes concentrating on the internal rather than the external. Definitely for those who are looking to go beyond mere delivery of lines and making predetermined moves on stage. Looking for people who have done a few productions, even if at the school or college level. Your age and a few lines on what you've done or plan to do would be nice.
Only 14 slots open so sooner the better for registration.

Fri 19th Dec: "The Audience Is Listening..." by Jiten Merchant
Using sound in the theatre and particularly when not to use music and sound effects. The workshop is ideally suited for directors who might want to enhance their knowledge and experience of marrying music to scripts and performances, and to people involved with arranging music and operating sound especially for the theatre. Please send in CV with relevant details to register.
Only 15 slots open.

Sat 20th Dec: "Theatrically Speaking" by Partap Sharma
An overview of using the voice in theatre. Breathing and projection techniques, handling the microphone and creating character through voice. Anyone can register but obviously because of the way the workshop is conceived, people related with the stage will benefit most. Anyone who wants to find their voice, call up.
15 slots open so voice your eagerness now!

Sun 21st Dec: "Truth of a Moment" by Akash Khurana
An exploration in acting to communicate reality and the discovery of truth in a text. Only those up for some hard graft should even look this far. Emotional upheavals and a little physical torture might be the order of the day. A CV listing your name, age, education, general interests, relevant training/experience and the answer to the question, "What do you want to get out of this workshop?" is a must before you're drafted.

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