Experiences 4 : Marcela Herrera and Anne Gorath, theatre pedagogues on conducting a 10-Day-Workshop in Bangalore
On Monday the 31st August we arrived at the Ranga Shankara. 17 theatre colleagues from all over India welcomed us and told us about their background.
Lots of unusual names were said and we were wondering if we would be able to remember them quickly. We managed, after a few hours we knew not only the names but got to know our colleagues much better.
Right from the first day we felt that there was an amazing energy in the group! Everyone was absolutely full of wonder, excitement and openness. 7 days we worked together with the whole group. Two days more we could work with the colleagues from Bangalore.
After understanding the production and research process of the play “The big Lalula”, our colleagues developed ideas and concepts for theatre games and their own performances. Some of them could be “tested” in a day nursery straight away.
It was an overwhelming time of exchange. We got to know our colleagues, learned about there ways of working and the structural problems that theatre people in India struggle with. We learned about Indian theatre traditions and that many issues do not depend on which country or culture one is from!
It was an intense time of exchange. We were amazed about the willingness to experiment together. The openness to criticize each other, the trust were there right from the beginning.
At the end of the workshop we saw performance concepts and game ideas where the year long experiences of our colleagues was well visible.
Back in Mannheim we are still very excited and hope that the seeds that have been sown are going to grow and that there will soon be some performances for very young children. We are hpoing to stay in contact and continue the exchange and hopefully we can also come and see the productions!
What is amazing in India is traffic. In Germany it would not work as it works in India. Many cars, motorbikes and rikshas are supposed to share the street. Even if it seems to be too tight or too narrow every now and then, it works. Using the horn in this context is not – as in Germany- an expression of anger or aggression, no, it rather shows all traffic participants who´s on the road and who the attention should be shared with. Using a riksha nearly every morning as a person from Germany you need to relax. You need to get used to it. And you´ll see that it works. You also need to get used to the sound that goes with it. Being next to a main road means that you´ll always hear the beeping and the horns. In the workshop room, in the Ranga Shankara, in the hotel room, you´ll always have that background sound.
Experiences 3 - Schnawwl Director Andrea Gronemeyer about the five days of "Think Tank" in Bangalore
In our so called "think tank", Arundhati Nag, Sophia Stepf, Gayathri Krishna, Christian Thurm and me had been working on the shape of our co-production that would be the third step of the entire project “Do I know you”. The first idea that we all agreed to explore was the staging of the Friedrich Schiller’s play “Intrigue and Love” with a mixed Indian-German cast. The reading of the play evoked an interesting discussion: the theme of impossible love between people of different castes or religion seems to be a very contemporary question in Indian
society, such a hot topic that it is the topic of nearly every second Bollywood movie. What can a two hundred year old German play add to this current discussion, is it able to open a new point of view? Is there any need to also look at the political implications of the play dealing with the emancipation of the German bourgeoisie of the 18th century? The next day we listenend to the reading of a very important Indian play form1972, Girish Karnad's “Hayavadana”, a post-colonial interpretation of the old folk tale “The transposed heads”, which is known also in Germany because of the Thomas Mann’s novel that is also based on it. A great play with an interesting epical structure that suits the aesthetics of nowadays theatre for young people in Europe. It’s a very challenging play, full of references to problems of modern Indian society torn between cultural roots and the western culture that has been transposed on them. It took us Germans some time to understand the abstract philosophical metaphors of the play, which we gratefully got to know. Some days and a trip to Mysore and meetings with many artist later we all agreed, that we should not end the discussion about the topic too early. We all want a play that really exites our young audience in Bangalore as well as in Mannheim. We agreed on a political topic and a form that can also entertain und startle our audiences. The idea to ask a contemporary Indian playwright to create something very special for our co-production, in a good cooperation with the German directing staff, maybe based on a tale or a novel seems to be a good way to approach this goal.
I leave Bangalore with the impression that we have made a big step. All the discussions and meetings, but also the experience of life in Bangalore, food, smells, sounds, smiles, the wonderful hospitality of Arundhati Nag, Gayathri Krishna and the the excitement and passion about theatre form all the young volunteers that guided and supported us helped me make a big step towards knowing my partners better.
Experiences 2 - Christian Thurm, stage designer about looking at roofs and material for the RS production of "Robinson& Crusoe"
Here are his experiences:
"Stage design in India seems to be not quite the same as in Germany. There are many cultural differences and I'm always afraid of making bad mistakes.But there is one thing that makes me calm: The people here in the theatre have the same aim as me. And they are so warm, kind and friendly, that there is no need for fear.
And so I went around and found the steel I need in the city.
and for alternative also some aluminium profile. I've seen wood that works for my construction and what is most important, I've seen a lot of different typical Indian roofs and their construction underneath, in a museum in Chennai, so that i can choose what is needed.
Now I just wait for the main decision of Graci (the Director) about which direction he wants the stage design to take: Abstract or naturalistic - that will determine the final design."
or maybe not? We are discussing in the pedagogy workshop, whether Indian children, who are used to much more noise and colour would need a different kind of Lalula...
Lalula is not a show it is science....
but then again it's simply about the beauty of blowing sand.
this was a very short time in india and even for bangalore it was not enough, but it was filled with hundreds of experiences! the theatre "ranga shankara" was such a beautiful place where i felt very comfortable! also the festival "aha" was really well organised ! we had enough time for reharsels and to build up our stage ! there where lots of great volenteers who helped us with everything !
and it didn't matter if we needed a help with a spotlight or a nice shopping tour through bangalore! even our performances where such nice experiences ! i was very exited to perform in front of so many indian children and on top of that my english is not the best ! the space was very big, so normally we perform in front of 30 children and now in one show there were around 150 people! so it was big fun ! the shows very well and i really enjoyed myself and had the feeling that there is a really open minded audience in bangalore! after the shows a lot of people came to me and asked me questions or told me that they liked it very much and the children came to me on the stage and said thank you and told me their names!
the city of bangalore is a really big town and has two different worlds, one is very rich and similar to ours but on the other side you have poverty and pollution! for example: you buy a south indian meal (which is a lot to eat, see picture below) in a local restaurant and you pay 20 rupees and in the evening you go to a upper class night club and you pay 300 rupees for a beer!
so now i am very rich of experience and hope i will visit this place again!
The Great Lalula
The Garbage Mouse
Alongside the shows, a workshop on "Doing Theatre with and for Toddlers" is currently being held at Ranga Shankara. Marcella Herrera, theatre pedagogue and director of "The great Lalula" and Anne Gorath, theatre pedagogue, are conducting this intensive 10-day workshop for 16 Indian theatre pedagogues, theatre teachers and actors from Bangalore, Kolkata, Bombay and Pune. We are hoping and are positive, that the workshop will enable the participants to create the first shows for toddlers in India.
Furthermore, a symposium on theatre pedagogy was held in the Goethe-Institut Bangalore yesterday, where Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schneider talked on his new brand new book "Theatre for Early Years. Research in Performing Arts for Children from Birth to 3".
Also the collective effort of all participants of the workshop and symposium was made to finally establish a vibrant and lively Assitej India - and by doing that connecting the Indian theatre parctitioners with the world wide network for theatre for children and young people: Assitej International.
For another overview of all these activities check out:
Schnawwl at the National Theatre in Mannheim & Ranga Shankara in Bangalore
Two cities shaped by migration, many languages and different cultures
Two theatres that are places for intercultural dialogue and lively local culture
Who: Schnawwl at the National Theatre in Mannheim and Ranga Shankara in Bangalore
What: professional intercultural theatre for children and young people
How: an exchange in the form of workshops, exchange of artistic staff, guest performances and a co-production
When: September 2009 to September 2011
Goals: increase the participants intercultural competency, provide cultural impulses, stage three top-class productions, awaken the enthusiasm of young audiences for a contemporary intercultural theatre
Visibility: guest performances by Schnawwl at the AHA! Theatre Festival in Bangalore, one production with an intercultural theme at each of the theatres with artistic impulses from the partner theatre, 30 performances of a co-production in Bangalore and in Mannheim