A beautiful drive down from Pune to Mumbai at the ASB blackbox theatre, to witness a student production. And, let me happily tell you the black box is quite a scenographic setting for playmaking.
In Mumbai, Rangaai Theatre Company performs at a Black Box, sometimes. It was quite charming to see the kids prepare mirrors and scenographic works for their verbatim theatre piece. By the end of the play, I came to understand that the production was a collaboration between teachers and kids.
I was reminded of some scenographic works that I have seen in Pune; Girish Karnad's NAGMANDALA at Vinod Doshi Festival came to my mind. The kids before and after the play were using the theatre space so naturally without actually maybe thinking about the difference between a proscenium space and black box! It's a solid introduction to kids to the art of play-making, expression, voice and more and more.
What surprised me further was the dis-arrayed movement of all the kids on stage. The fractured entry and exit, with the mirror as sets , and a voice over. The piece was a movement between theatre, storytelling, narration, scenography and an open mic. The teachers at the school did a good enough job to slide this array of storytelling and different art forms in one gamut of experience THEATRE. The piece also kind of revolved around dialogues, responses in the mics. Many, many professional theatre groups in Pune and Mumbai are yet to use the medium of voice explicitly. The kids at the school made a healthy and ample use of sound or voice as an exploration of acting! I somehow felt the learning process and the story revolved around the voice; for which I would say the production draws into strong theatre traditions.
The speech of the kids was natural and I didn't find any attempt to make their accents unnecessarily foreign. Indian kids sounded like home and so did the kids with the American language.
A very strong sense of consciousness and responsibility emerged from each student's piece; which they carried in a very casual way!
The piece revolved around questioning, identifying sharing relationships in a family from a gamut of angles; in weird and funny postures and fractured entries!
FAMILY MATTERS was a live theatre piece with a strong sense of individuality and unity in a voice! Along with the kids' director ROBERT THORBURN has created an engaging live theatre piece!