Theatre is not only for classes but also for the masses, says director-general of International Theatre Institute
IAPAR International Theatre Festival 2017 kicked off with an exciting start on November 1 with the inauguration ceremony followed by a performance by National School of Drama Repertory Company. Poet and writer Tobias Biancone, the director-general of International Theatre Institute (ITI) inaugurated the festival. He spoke to Prachi Bari about the trends in theatrepune Updated: Nov 04, 2017 15:44 IST
How do you look at the 2nd IAPAR international theatre festival?
The festival had a brilliant opening with the Indian version of Aristophanes’ 'Leastrata’. It was a play called Ghazab Teri Adaa by professor Waman Kendre. It was a pleasure to watch this play as the opening, which was deeply rooted in Indian tradition with acting, songs and dance. Though I didn’t understand a word, it was easy to follow. Extremely well-acted and directed, it was a real pleasure to open with this play. It is very well organised for their second International Theatre festival.
What do you feel about youth and theatre?
I found a mixed audience, including majority of youth, at the theatre. They could relate to the actors who were also young. On the international level, the youth are drawing more towards theatre. I feel that theatre is not just for students, but for everybody. In my view, the big task is how to bring theatre to everybody, not only in India, but everyone in the world to focus on bringing theatre to everyone.
What kind of plans does ITI have for India?
We celebrate the 70th in 2018, and were thinking of workshops and education in theatre across India, which will be a wonderful idea. We don’t want to look at another festival, but it should be more of give and take, in terms of bringing professionals from here to learn other theatre practices. This is not change their roots, but to add value to it and give them techniques from around the world. India, as you know, has been elected as the executive council for the first time in the history of ITI, since it was established in 1948 with Vidyanidhee Prasad Vanarase elected as a member of the executive council.
What is the concept of bringing theatre to people?
This concept is simple; we have to reach out to everybody. Theatre is not only for elite, but it is for everyone, be it young, seniors or physically challenged. So, for example, if one goes to an Opera, you will see connoisseurs above the age of 60, (I am in my 60’s and I am the youngest in the crowd). Then, I feel something is wrong here. Where is the young crowd? Only the elite come to these shows. Hence, this is where the challenge lies. If these performances can touch the young, only then can they come to watch such plays. So we need to get such qualitative performances and make it interesting for the youth.
Are people open to new experimental plays?
Innovation of theatre and perseverance is the key here for such performances to grow. It will take time for it is a challenge for every theatre production to attract a good crowd. For example, well known theatre director Peter Brooks does that. He goes into the audience to interact and understand the audience, only then it will work.
What kind of plans does ITI have for promoting theatre in India and abroad?
I think for ITI, we support festivals, but we are at the moment re- launching theatre from nations. We don’t want people to be consumers, but they should be participating and contributing to theatre. Over all, our strategy is really to focus on three goals - humanistic, go into conflict zones and theatre for development - where a person learns to act, community learns to act, gains self-respect and helps develop the community. We also want to defend the free development of performing arts and contribute to the protection of the rights of performing arts professionals.