Calling wordsmiths

Ambika Shaligram
Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Theatre artist Pradeep Vaiddya explains why ‘Rangbhan 2017’, a workshop for upcoming writers, is the need of the hour

Do you put your pen to paper? Or key in your thoughts, and punch the digits of mobile phone to string together words and then struggle at some point, to finish it? Before you cry, ‘Writer’s Block’, maybe you need a mentoring session to become a polished wordsmith, to be able to articulate your thoughts and stories that might be reflected on a bigger canvas.

To address this issue, as far as theatre is concerned, veterans in the field — Pradeep Vaiddya and Kiran Yadnopavit — are starting a workshop, titled Rangbhan 2017. Starting from September, it will be on till February. The screening process is on at the moment. Talking about it, Vaiddya of Expressions Lab, says, “We lived, experienced and explored the world differently in the ‘80s. The ‘90s ushered in a change... my generation has experienced those... A lot has changed and we need to figure out where we stand. How we capture the social, political and historic fabric of the present-day Maharashtra through writing or other mediums, is the challenge before us. A similar churning was done in 1984 by Theatre Academy, and I think it’s time we explore, examine different angles to our thought and writing process. Kiran and I have been talking about this for quite some time, which resulted in Rangbhan 2017.”

Limited to Marathi theatre, because the team is not equipped to help out practitioners of regional theatre like say Odiya, Rangbhan 2017 aims at looking at the art form from a new perspective. “Marathi theatre is quite script-centric, as compared to Hindi and English theatre, and so our plays tend to become verbose. The other theatre groups are experimenting with various forms, so it’s time we looked at new ways of communicating  our thoughts — for instance, painting, music, technology. We hope to mould writers who are aware of what is happening in other art forms and adapting those changes in their work,” points out Vaiddya.

He adds, “Pune is no longer the cosy city it once was. There is an influx of migratory population. The language itself has changed, it’s more colloquial, local dialects are making their presence felt. If the writer incorporates this changed scenario, then his work will be more complete and enriched. When we say Pune city, we are also incorporating other cities like Mumbai, Nashik, which have come closer.”

Thus, they have got a couple of enquiries from NRIs, who want to be a part of the project, but the Rangbhan team is yet to take a call on this. Two committees have been formed to screen the participants and there are three rounds which they will have to appear for. “The first round is bio-data, where you explain your background and the work that you have done so far. We also expect a sample piece of the writing you have done so far, and what you would like to write in future,” he adds.

It may so happen that the bio-data of the person might not be impressive, but his writing might be. So the interview round — judged by Sunil Sukhthankar, Chandrakant Kulkarni and Rekha Inamdar — will fill in these gaps. “The interviews would take place over phone, skype (for those who stay at a distance) and in-person for those living in the city. A maximum of 25 candidates will be selected through this process. The intended age group is 16-35, but we can make an exception, if the candidates are above the age limit, but deserving,” explains Vaiddya.

The senior artist also says that the team is in tune with the changing modes of interaction, and they are not averse if participants use symbols, numericals to write. Or writing Marathi in Roman language. Says Vaiddya, “We are making use of new media like Facebook, WhatsApp, to reach out to people. Everyone uses a computer to convey their thoughts, so it won’t be limited to pen and paper writing. We are not going to put down any language on the purity factor. We will make the participants aware of the usage of standard language prescription, but they are free to write the way they like. We will make them aware of economics, politics, music, art and literature, advertisements, in grooming sessions. It will involve lot of unlearning, and being open to experiments.”

There are 60 speakers, including Ramu Ramnathan, Atul Pethe and Makarand Sathe, who will be grooming the participants. The director’s panel will include Mohit Takalkar, Neel Choudhary and Sandesh Kulkarni, whereas the writers’ panel is formed by Dr Chandrashekar Phansalkar, Dr Sameer Kulkarni and Ramu Ramanathan. The mentors panel includes Vaiddya himself, Yadnopavit and Irawati Karnik.

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