The Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavans Bangalore and Kolkata have long been closely associated with the theatre culture in their respective cities. While acting, directing and music are skills that are often the focus and the need for dramaturgs and an interest in the profession has been much discussed in recent years, this is the first concerted attempt at a formal introduction to the concept, its principles and its application in India.
The contact with German dramaturgs via various engagements added to the curiosity around the role of the dramaturg and how it could be applied to the Indian theatre ecosystem.
Sophia Stepf (Artistic Director, Flinn Works) and Jehan Manekshaw (Head of School, Drama School Mumbai) developed Using Dramaturgy as a response to this need, and as the seed of an ongoing exploration and application of the practice of dramaturgy, in the subcontinent.
In the first phase, twenty-four theatre theatre practitioners participated in one of two 10-day residential workshops at Arts Acre in Kolkata and at Visthar in Bangalore. These workshops were held at the end of 2019; for a peek into what transpired and what was discussed and debated watch the video.
In 2020, plans for the second and third phases of this project had to be adapted to the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic. While 24 interim projects were planned (where each participant worked as a dramaturg on a production in rehearsals) there are now fewer, and some conceptual projects, for the dramaturgs-in-training to work on. Professional dramaturgs from Germany (Martine Dennewald, Sandra Umathum, Felizitas Stilleke, Max-Phillip Aschenbrenner and others) work as mentors to these individuals. Those that complete their projects and submit a report on their dramaturgical engagement will receive a small stipend from the Goethe-Institut Bangalore.
In parallel, there is an ongoing lecture series with dramaturgs and theatre makers from around the world (Jocelyn Clarke, Mwenya Kabwe, Daniel Wetzel, among others), who will share their insights and perspectives with the group. This ensures that the participants' dramaturgical skills are being honed, and enriched with global perspectives.
We invite you to view the biographies of the participants below. And we hope you will reach out to any one of them if you are interested in working with a trained dramaturg in your rehearsal room.
FacultySophia Stepf holds an MA in dramaturgy from the Leipzig University of Music and Theatre. She has been working as a director, dramaturg and curator for 20 years and is the artistic director of the company Flinn Works (Berlin). She has a broad experience of working in India (e.g. for Ranga Shankara, National School of Drama, Prithvi, FLAME, Theatre Professionals), often in collaboration with the Goethe-Instituts in India.
As an actor, she has performed in her own plays as well as in several Shakespeare plays such as As You Like It (Delhi), A Winter’s Tale (Delhi), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Crystal Shakespeare Ensemble, Wales) and is currently involved in two projects - The Raveling (Walkabout Theatre, Chicago) and Sonnets (Guild of the Goat, Delhi).
She is the founder and artistic director of Guild of the Goat, a theatre company based in Delhi.
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Additionally, he has worked in Theatre Ocean Nord and at the Summer University in Brussels and has also authored a book of Bengali poetry titled Naroke Parobaas (2019) published by Chhona Prokashani, Kolkata.
In 2010, Mr. Sarkar was awarded a Junior Research Fellowship from the Ministry of Culture, Government of India on ‘Reflection of Subaltern of Neo-liberalization Era in Modern Bengali Theatre’.
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Presently, he is a Creative Director of Culture Monks, Kolkata and Secretary & Founder Director, Organization to Give Life a Meaning, (OGLAM) Bally, Howrah. He is also the Sub Editor of the Bengali Theatre Journal, Natyameva. He often delivers as the resource person for training and grooming performers, professionals, executives, teachers and young people. He is a freelance actor (theatre and films), a filmmaker and an enthusiastic dramaturg. He is engaged in intercultural dialogues, contemporary performance art, ‘katha-koli’ renditions and spiritual explorations.
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Her recent performance credits include an adaptation of Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens's titled Aleya Twist (costume designer), Shahidul Zahir's Jiban O Rajnaitik Bastabata (actor, costume designer and dramaturg), a Bangla translation of Abhishek Majumdar's Rizwan (actor and assistant director), a Bangla translation of Mohan Rakesh's Ashad Ka Ek Din (costume designer), Rabindranath Tagore's Shesh Raksha (director, set designer), and a Bangla translation of Clifford Odets' Waiting for Lefty (director, set and light designer).
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She has significant experience in facilitating productions and street plays to create awareness on various issues like Women’s oppression, Menstrual hygiene, Disabilities etc., many of which were in collaboration with NGOs and organisations like DITO, Nirman Foundation and Youth 4 Jobs Foundation.
Under the mentorship of writer and thespian Shuddhasatya Ghosh, she has dabbled in the art of Brechtian Theatre, bringing on stage real life incidents of rape that concerned her troupe, engaging with the audience in the auditorium in between scenes to create dialogue on the issues of systemic gendered oppression. She has also worked with troupes like The Red Curtain and Bibhaban-The Experimental theatre troupe.
In 2018 and 2019, she had visited Yangon, Myanmar, to conduct a month-long, workshop-based theatre course for the students of The Pre-Collegiate Program of Yangon, which ended in public productions by the students.
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Padma has a Master’s degree in Acting from East 15 Acting School UK. She is a founder/co-convener of the Drama School, Mumbai. A former business journalist, she is also a trained singer and dancer.
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She currently lives in Bombay where she runs a theatre company called Tricycle Productions under which she has co-devised an adaptation of Ismat Chughtai’s Lihaaf for the stage which opened at Prithvi Theatre in 2016 as part of Thespo18.
Her repertoire includes acting collaborations with theatre companies across Bombay such as The Company Theatre, Patchworks Ensemble, AkVarious etc. She has also worked on short films and TVCs for Airtel, Society Tea, Fbb etc.
Further, she teaches Theatre and Culture Studies at Whistling Woods International, Mumbai and at various non-profit and education spaces across Kolkata. She is currently co-writing her first feature film.
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He has acted and directed plays like Madhyam Vyayog, Ashadh Ka Ek Din, Panchhi Aise Aate Hain, Enemy of the People, Rise and Fall of City of Mahogany, Ankahi Shuruaat, Court Martial, Waiting for Godot, Saari Raat, Doosra Adhyay among others and has worked with eminent theatre practitioners such as Waman Kendre, Devendra Raj Ankur, Anamika Haksar, Hema Singh and Mushtaq Kak.
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Her key credits include Arsenic and old lace, Yayati, A Woman Alone, Baatein, Hamu ta Manasa re, Harsingar, Seven Steps around the Fire, Mricchkatikam among others. She has worked closely with directors Sanjay Upadhyay, Vibhash Upadhyay, R'jesh Bali, Mahesh Dattani, Alok Chaterjee, Alakh Nandan, Kanhaiya Lal Kaithwas and Devendra Raj Ankur, to name a few.
She is a learner and voracious reader who hates cooking.
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In 2018, she penned her thesis ‘Performance as transformation: Exploring questions of friendship, desire and community (affinities) in women’s collegiate theatre practices in Delhi’, under the supervision of Gargi Bharadwaj and guidance of Dr. Anuradha Kapur.
She has an active interest in Theatre of the Oppressed, having worked with groups like Vikalp Kriya (a Delhi-Mumbai based organisation exploring sustainable alternatives and practicing cultural expression and action), the Centre for Community Dialogue and Change, Bangalore and with Jaya Iyer (Founder, Lunar Energy, a Delhi-based theatre, environment and cultural collective).
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On finishing his M.A Literary Arts from Ambedkar University, he attended a year's residential course in dramatic arts at the NSD, Sikkim. Inspired by the theatre and cultural groups like The Freedom Theatre, Jenin, he is venturing into forming an artist’s collective in Imphal.
He recently devised a short performance on sexual violence and impunity supported by Zuban publication.
Currently he is collaborating with Akhoka and Umbilical Theatre and simultaneously exploring with the groups, the concept and practice of 'theatre in education’ within the context of the prevailing primary and secondary schooling system in Manipur.
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Until June 2019, she taught IBDP/IGCSE Theatre at Dhirubhai Ambani International School in Mumbai.
She has also worked as a workshop facilitator, dramaturge (The Inspire Passion Project 2014), and director on a range of projects.
In a former life, she curated the Literature section at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival Mumbai, and performed as a Christmas Elf at an amusement park near Bradford. She has an MA in Theatre and Global Development from the University of Leeds, UK and a BA in English Literature from the University of Mumbai.
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He started as an actor in theatre and then trained in Playwriting and direction. His most recent theatre production was the Kannada adaption of Lutz Hubner’s German play “Creeps” titled “Crazy Girls Season One”. His first documentary film was on the making of the play Muktidham. He lives in Bengaluru. In his previous life, he worked in the technology world for 13 years.
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In recent years she has started to deliver a program Using Drama for Learning to primary and middle school teachers. The program enables regular teachers to use drama activities to teach other subjects.
She has been conducting these trainings for the past 3 years in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi.
Kalyani has also facilitated several theatre workshops with NGO’s like Sneha, Akshara, and Apnalaya working with victims of domestic violence, youth groups and children of parents infected by HIV.
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She approaches theatre – a form that encompasses all her preoccupations – as an investigation into identities, histories, languages, and perspectives.
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In addition, he has been a part of Samudaya and Ranga Shankara for many years - directing, coordinating and acting in their various productions, tours and festivals.
He is the Artistic Director of the Bangalore Theatre Collective.
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His performance work includes Shikhandi - The Story of the In-Betweens (nominated for Best Supporting Actor and winner of Best Ensemble at the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards 2018); 07/07/07 (Best Ensemble at META 2016). His solo theatre show Dekho Magar Pyaar Se was developed through the Gender Bender Grant (supported by Goethe-Institut and Sandbox Collective) awarded in 2015. He was creative producer for ivo theatre's Outrageous! (Mumbai 2017, London 2018) which commissioned and curated queer-themed performance work by queer artists.
His first short film, Any Other Day (writer, co-director, actor) won the Best Emerging Director Award at KASHISH MIQFF, the APQFFA Best Short Film Award in Taiwan in November 2017, and was shortlisted for the Toto Funds the Arts Awards 2016. His second short film, Ajay (developed through The Humsafar Trust Media Fellowship) won Best Narrative Short at KASHISH MIQFF 2018, and was a finalist at the IRIS Prize (Cardiff, 2018).
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His preoccupations include conceptualizing work that removes the rigidity of norms of performance and observations and create interactions in performance spaces, creating performances/simulation around our experience of urban spaces, equilibriums in economies and game theory. Any bio of his is incomplete without mentioning his love for Liverpool FC.
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