Experiences 3 - Schnawwl Director Andrea Gronemeyer about the five days of "Think Tank" in Bangalore

Only one week in Bangalore changes my view of my own country. Stepping out of the air plane in Germany, taking the train early Saturday morning, I am stunned how quiet and slow live seems to be here, birds singing, fresh air. But the few people that I meet on the street on my way home don’t seem to be happy about this, they don’t recognize me and look somehow worried, nobody would answer my good morning smile. I am tired not only because of the long flight, but because of so many impressions that I take home with me. 
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.

Andrea Gronemeyer


Experiences 2 - Christian Thurm, stage designer about looking at roofs and material for the RS production of "Robinson& Crusoe"

Context: As part of the partnership, Ranga Shankara is producing the play " Robinson & Crusoe" , which in the Schnawwl production had traveled to Bangalore in 2006 and won the hearts of the Bangalore audiences. The play is set on a swimming roof in the ocean, on which two soldiers from enemy armys meet. They do not speak each others language, but learn to communicate with each other and in the end become friends. In the Schnawwl production one soldiers was played by Gracias Devaraj, a Bangalorian who has been living in Germany for many years. He will now direct the RS production of the play for children 10 years plus with two actors from Bangalore. The stage designer Christian Thurm, who is the technical head of Schnawwl, has come to India for two weeks to look at different kind of Indian roofs, construction techniques and material available. 
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.

Die Anzeige dieses Bildes wird in Ihrem Browser m√∂glicherweise nicht unterst√ľtzt.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. 

I was accompagnied by Raghu, a 21 Year old student who knew a lot about Indian architecture.

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."
Christian Thurm


Impressions of "The Great Lalula" in Bangalore

For all who have not seen the show - after the performance of about 30 minutes, the children can come on stage and play for another 30 minutes. Children at this age seem to be the same all over the world....

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...

... but then as Arundhati remarks:
Lalula is not a show it is science....

but then again it's simply about the beauty of blowing sand.


Experiences 1: Jule Kracht, actress about her six days in Bangalore

it is saturday and i am sitting in sophia's hotel room and thinking about the last 6 days! a t 2pm i will be on the flight back to frankfurt, where hopefully my little girl and my husband will wait for me!
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!
the food is very nice but for me it's all a bit similar in taste! you have different types of dosa, which are some kind of pancakes with vegtables, potatos and some nice dips! it can be very hot! but the best thing is, my stomach is feeling fine! one thing that makes me really laugh are the homeless cows everywhere! they walk between the cars and the rikshas, it is unbelievable!

so now i am very rich of experience and hope i will visit this place again!

me in the mouse costume with arundhati

First steps in many ways: Theatre for Toddlers in Bangalore

For the first step of the partnership, Schnawwl brought 2 plays to Ranga Shankara's AHA festival, introducing theatre for the age brackets of 18 months plus (The great Lalula ) and 4-6- years olds  (The Garbage Mouse) to the Bangalore audience.

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: