What began as a competition requesting entries for original scripts on Facebook three years ago has now developed into a travelling festival that supports playwrights and at the same time gives theatre directors a chance to collaborate on fresh creative stimuli. Sanhita Manch Natya Mahotsav, organised by Being Association, currently underway in the city, is the brain child of actors Rasika Agashe and her husband Zeeshan Ayyub. The festival will showcase four plays — three Hindi and one Marathi. The Mumbai edition of the festival has been wrapped up and from Pune, it will travel to Bhopal and Delhi.
“Our first love is theatre and we were always on the look-out for original, new scripts, fresh voices. In 2017, we posted on FB inviting entries for scripts. We got 75 entries in the first year. The year after we got 83 and this year we got 150, 75 each for Hindi and Marathi. There is good quality writing that is taking place. We just need to connect the writers with directors and hence we started Sanhita Manch,” says Agashe.
Agashe herself has directed Radhey, a script written by Amit Sharma from Bengaluru. “Radhey focuses on the last two days of Karna on the battlefield of Kurukshetra. But on the whole, it tries to seek answers to war-mongering which is very relevant today. Several thousand people die in war; it’s time we underlined the fact that wars are not natural but man made calamities,” says the actor.
The play, which will be staged in the city on August 29, is inspired by Ramdhari Singh Dinkar’s classic poem, Rashmirathi.
When asked about the festival showcasing plays that depict contemporaneous reality, Agashe dismisses it saying, “The playwrights after a point write on issues that surround us. ”
The script of two plays, Romeo Juliet in Smart Cities of Contemporary India and Kabab, in fact cut quite close to our reality. “The germ of Kabab, which is Flying Father Arts Association’s production, springs from mob-lynching incidents, while Romeo Juliet...by Vihaan Drama Works, throws light on a modern day couple, battling with lack of privacy. In India, falling in love comes attached with caste, religion and other obstacles. Topping that list is lack of privacy. I mean, we can get into spats and fisticuffs, abuse people on streets. But kissing is a taboo,” the actor verbalises her angst.
The script for Kabab has been written by Rahul Rai and it has been directed by Rajesh Singh, whereas Romeo Juliet...was penned by Swapnil Jain and Saurabh Anant has directed it. It will be performed on August 27.
The only Marathi entry to make the cut was Adhyaat Mee, Sadhyat Tu, Madhyat Ma Kuni Nahi which Swapnil Chavhan has written and Apurv Sathe has directed for Maharashtra Cultural Centre. Talking about the play, Sathe says, “On the surface our life seems plain and simple. But, as we dig deeper, it is way more complex, ironic and sometimes absurd. It is this ‘absurdity’ which creates this piece of theatre. Through the paths of ‘philosophy’, ‘religion’ and even ‘modern science’, man has always been on the trail of finding himself. At the same time, questions related to his existence have amused us. Adhyaat Mee, Sadhyat Tu... embarks on the fickle journey of human life from birth, which we cannot control, and death which is the ultimate uncertainty.” The play will be staged on August 28.
The scripts that have been made into plays will be published into a book and other scripts will be uploaded on Being Association’s website. “We intend to create a repository of the scripts so that in future, interested directors can contact the writers and adapt them for stage. As of now, we are looking at a two year timeline to complete the work on the e-library,” adds Agashe.
Alongwith the plays, lecture series on translations, scripts, director’s perspective will also be held. Vidyanidhee Vanarase, Ashwini Giri and Aniruddha Khutwad are working on the academic aspect of theatre. They will share their views on it. There will be a session of writers by Ashutosh Potdar, Makrand Sathe and Manaswini Lata Ravindra. They will be talking about writing process and how they adapt subjects. Madhuri Purandare will dwell on translations. Amol Palekar will share his experiences of Badal Sircar’s theatre. Atul Pethe will be speaking about post ’90s theatre. Dharmakirti Sumant and Alok Rajwade will also be speaking.
ST Reader Service
Sanhita Manch Natya Mahotsav is underway at Jyotsna Bhole Sabhagruha, Tilak Road till August 29. The plays will begin every evening at 7pm. Tickets are available at the venue and on bookmyshow.com