As urban dwellers in India, we are often caught up with the question of what a city has to offer for recreation. While each city may have different places for people to engage in, either in forms of sports and fitness or workshops and classes, what a city has for its audience is something that plenty think about. Likes and preferences may vary from one individual to another, but Indian cities in general have become more about malls, movies and restaurants.
Being a metro resident myself, I am often intrigued to be able to experience something different. Even though I love exploring varied cuisines but there has to be more to life than just that. In light of this and my bias for arts, I often search for events related but not limited to poetry, literature, theatres, etc. While the number of options may be less, the city of Bangalore does host one of these every now and then.
One decorated place called Lahe Lahe is a space for all things art. It is frequently used by folks to host events such as dance or painting workshops, theatres, poetry contests, etc. The idea is to bring people of similar interests together, irrespective of how skilled one is.
Recently, I grabbed an opportunity to watch a theatre at Lahe Lahe, for I had never attended one. I figured that one of my colleagues and his wife are artists who run that theatre. On reaching the venue, I realised that it was an improv, something I was not aware had its existence in Bangalore.
The group, known as First Drop Theatre, had themed the event around the concept of social inclusion. Being an improv, it required the audience to share a story on the spot, while ensuring they adhered to the theme. The story could be one’s personal experience or something that they could relate to. The director of the play would recite the story highlighting its key aspects and the actors then, without any delay or discussion, would jump on to the stage and perform an act. At times, the director would be very specific and ask the actors to use poetry or music.
What was wonderful about the theatre was how among all the actors, there was no conflict on who would start and who would go next. They knew exactly when to perform individually, how long to wait for someone to finish their dialogue and when to jump in for a chorus; and all of it without any prior planning. Additionally, one of them also played an instrument in the background. It gave the act such a dramatic perspective that at times I forgot that it was an impromptu one.
In a room full of strangers, stories about inclusion and exclusion came in from people of varied backgrounds: stories about how one is a lot more mature for their age and finds it difficult to blend in with peers; stories about how one appears to be very strong and confident on the outside but is vulnerable within. Whatever be the essence of the story, the acts did all the justice that one could have asked for. Even though I did not speak up myself, I could relate to quite a few of them.
Albeit there are movies that have a lasting impact, I never thought a theatre could do that. The stories, even though coming from people who have never met each other, when enacted this beautifully, appeared to be a tale on its own. A defined theme obviously contributes to this magic, but its a wonder how I am able to view the entire show as a narrative that makes sense even in its totality.
All of this, however, calls out for an even bigger picture; about how the style of theatre allowed people to express themselves who otherwise are hesitant to speak. As one in the audience spoke, it enabled him to expose his vulnerability without worrying about being judged. The theatre implicitly also threw light on the importance of living for oneself; being able to do what one loves and finding a group of like minded people to pursue one’s passion. In this vast city, it is beautiful how groups like these are creating an impact and inspiring folks like me to live beyond existence.
“The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.”
Originally published at https://themarwaridimag.blogspot.com on February 5, 2020.