The long and short of communication

Ambika Shaligram
Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Theatre actor Titas Dutta, who has co-curated The Whilst Walking Touring Festival, shares with us details about the workshop and the performances to be held in the city

Mumbai-based theatre company The Collaborators, in association with German theatre company Gut Buddies, is bringing to Pune their devised theatre festival — The Whilst Walking Touring Festival (WWTF), that includes performances and workshop. 

The WWTF is a tour or cultural exchange programme that includes a series of theatre workshops and performances in India by a group of artists of five different nationalities — UK, Austria, Italy, Spain and India — trained from London International School of Performing Arts (LISPA). The festival, which is currently underway and will conclude on March 1, will be touring Pune, Mumbai, Bengaluru, Puducherry, Kolkata and Agra. 

“The festival is conducted by an ensemble of international artists of five different nationalities, who use non-hierarchical means of creation as a process of performance making and are keen to share their ‘organised chaotic disasters’ with the young performance makers and audiences of India,” says Titas Dutta, one of the curators of the festival.

“The artists, including me and Vivek Kumar from India, Ainhoa Hevia Uria and Gina Battle Oliva from Spain, Julia Proglhof from Austria, Matteo Carpi from Italy and Niall Machin from England, met during our two-year course in Devising Theatre and Performance at LISPA Berlin. We became friends and together formed the collective,” adds Dutta.

The collective will conduct the workshop on Saturday and Sunday and will help theatre practitioners find out hidden narratives which already exist in our bodies and then use them for effective communication. Dutta explains, “The workshop is derived from the training of French maestro Jacques Lecoq’s Pedagogy. It takes individuality of people into account while creating performances. A performance is also a way of communication. Once you grasp the communication aspect, you can extend it to create performances, in narration or dialogue.” 

The whole idea behind The Whilst Walking Tour Festival, says Dutta, is to create a platform in every city to communicate with people. “The performers never know what happens in the other side and how their performance is received. What the audience has to say is not known. That’s what we are trying to focus on and hence we are having workshop for 10-15 people. We need that space for agreeing to disagree — having a dialogue and still keep it constructive and embrace the differences that we confront. This is how we conceived the performance last year in Berlin,” she adds.  

The Collaborators and Gut Buddies are also putting together six small performances at TIFA Working Studio on January 20. The performances — Gut Buddies, Who’s At the Door, We Can’t Be Sure, You’ve Met Your Match, Happily, Ever After! Persephone and Little Fly —have different subjects but advocate the principles that the group believes in.

Dutta, who is a part of The Company Theatre, says, “In the two and half hour time frame, we will present all six small performances. We have tried to essentialise what we say and how we can do it in short period of time. The performances speak of the principles that we believe in — human relations and the complexities involved in it, gender politics, harmony and the message of co-existence. Peace in every manifestation possible is our focus.” 

As for the group, Dutta adds, “We are a collective of devisers. We disagree with the idea of hierarchy in theatre space and performance creation. We create our own performances through the process of collective contribution rather than directing someone. We didn’t want a single performance that had script beforehand and then we worked on it. It all happens in a space and then we start writing.” 

The group also believes that it is important to go to places where people are striving to learn forms of theatre, but don’t have access. Hence, they have included Agra in their tour. “Vivek Kumar, the co-curator of the festival, and I were keen to visit Agra, because we like it. There is something about the city. Also, we had a choice to take this festival to Delhi, but the capital is buzzing with cultural festivities. It made sense to take this festival to places where people are keen to learn, but don’t have access to it. Our other team-mate Ravi Choudhary, who is from Agra, also helped forge a collaborator there,” she adds.

When asked if they would host this festival every year, Dutta agrees, “It would be great. We like to do travelling theatre. But we don’t know if the practicality of hosting it would work out every year. We would also like to travel to other countries, since our collaborators are from different parts of the world.”

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