Gestures say it all

Ambika Shaligram
Wednesday, 4 July 2018

The fifth edition of Maunaantar 2018 starts from Friday. The participating teams give us a peek into their rehearsals

Silence speaks louder. And, some amateur theatre artists are out to prove just that through their participation in Maunaantar 2018 — a mime play competition. In its fifth edition, this year, the competition will be held in Mumbai as well. Also, some theatre groups from PCMC, Nashik and Navi Mumbai too are participating, taking the total to 27 teams. Organised by Dreams 2 Reality, Wide Wings Media and Fairytale Media Studio, Maunaantar 2018 will be staged at Bharat Natyamandir, Pune and Ravindra Natyamandir, Mumbai on July 6, 7 and 8. 
We catch up with some of the youngsters participating in the competition to know about the challenges they faced while staging the one act play. 

Abhishek Ranade, 4th Wall, Pune  
“We are mostly college students and 4th Wall is our production house, under which we are participating in Maunaantar 2018. We are a group of 40 actors, but for this competition, we have five protagonists. Others are a part of the mob scenes. Some of us have watched the plays that were part of the previous edition of Maunaantar, just to get an idea of what is expected. Yet we faced a few challenges when we actually got down to understanding the rules, regulations etc.
Mime play is a new theatre form for us. So before starting the rehearsals, we did one week of mime exercises. The name of our play is The Caged Carnival, which is based on Marcel Marceaus’ story. We have realised that we cannot express talkie or verbal situations directly or indirectly. So it made sense to choose a subject in which we can convey more through actions. We are treating this as a stepping stone. We want to prove ourselves through mime play and then step into the verbal drama zone.”

Abhijeet Mohite, Mithak, Mumbai
“We have been taking part in inter-collegiate one act play competitions. We first heard about Maunaantar two years ago. Last year, I watched Art of Silence at this competition and thought, ‘Why can’t we participate?’ So this year, a group of students from MD, Ruparel and Khalsa colleges got together.
Our entry is called Waiting for Godot. The original French play has been written by Samuel Beckett. We first staged the Marathi adaptation of the play four years ago. It was difficult to comprehend it then. Over the years, we read the original, and now we are somewhere closer to grasping it. It’s clear to us now that the absurd play is more suitable for a mime performance as there is a tragic-comic aspect to it. 

We have picked some elements from both the parts of the original play, adapted and interpreted them. We have included an illusion device and a mime sequence. The challenge before us is to make it simple for the audience to understand and to hold their attention. 

To ensure that what we are trying to communicate is understood, we have been taking feedback from our friends. Some of our senior friends in theatre drop by our rehearsal space and give suggestions.”

Pratik Karyakarte, Unbox, Pune 
“As a college student of PVG-COET, my friends and I have participated in Maunaantar for two editions and also won it. Now we have passed out from college and have formed this theatre group, Unbox. Under its banner, we are making our debut at Maunaantar, this year.  

In the first year, we had a vague idea about pantomime — that it was something which involved wearing white paint etc. When we got into it, we realised the intricacies. In our previous outing, we chose a realistic theme. By realistic, I mean that a Naxalite and a girl were the main characters. The girl was gagged, so she couldn’t speak and the Naxalite wasn’t interested in speaking with her. 

This year, we have chosen a play, that works on symbols. I have written the story of the play, Dhonda. Mime is something which falls in the imaginary realm, so you use symbols to try and connect the character. That’s what we have tried to do in Dhonda.

In mime plays, properties play an important role. They tell you what the character is thinking. In a verbal play, the protagonist can just say, ‘I’m hungry, I want to eat something’. In mime, you have to show the character get up from his place, walk towards the place where food is kept, pick up something from it and eat. This sequence tells people that the man was hungry. Also, in mime, you have to show the property — in this case, the food. These little things make a mime play competition like Maunaantar very interesting!” 

ST Reader Service 
In Pune, the plays will be staged at Bharat Natyamandir. On July 7, the plays will be performed from 9 pm to midnight. On July 8, the timings are from 9 am to midnight. In Mumbai, the plays will be staged on July 6 at Ravindra Natyamandir’s mini auditorium from 4-10.30 pm. Tickets are available on and at the venues between 9 and 11.30 am and 5-8 pm

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