ARTS Sandbox Collective works to expand the scope of performance arts in the city. Nimi Ravindran and Shiva Pathak speak to SRAVASTI DATTA of Sandbox’s projects

Bangalore is brimming with artistic talent. The performing arts in particular, be it dance, music or theatre, has an interested audience. Considering time constraints, which include navigating the impossible city traffic, it is not always possible to engage with the performing arts as often as one might want to. Further, the lack of resources and information makes it difficult for performing artists to put up a show or a project together. To address these requirements, among others, Nimi Ravindran, a writer, journalist and theatre director and Shiva Pathak, an actor, freelance consultant and arts manager, formed Sandbox Collective about two months ago.

“Sandbox is a Bangalore-based artists’ collective comprising of a group of artists and art administrators, working together to expand the scope of performance arts,” says Nimi. “Our first love is theatre, but Sandbox is a performance collective and so we will also be working with dance, music and literary events,” says Shiva, who has worked as festival co-ordinator for three editions of the Attakkalari India Biennial.

Nimi stresses: “Among the many projects we are working on, we provide tangible resources and information to those who are looking for it.” Shiva adds that as a collective, they are trying to generate more paid work both for the performer and the back-end people. “Whatever work we are doing, we are doing it for everybody in the performing arts,” says Shiva.

The projects of Sandbox can be broadly categorised under Arts Management, Spaces, Performances, Workshops, Arts education and Festivals. Speaking about their Spaces projects, Nimi says: “Around 10 years ago, when I was doing a production, in which Shiva was acting, we performed about 10 to 15 shows in people’s houses. For us, it was a new and exciting thing.” The objective of Spaces is to take the performing arts to the people, than them coming to a theatre. “The idea is to reach out to as many people as possible. In our Spaces project, we’re going to explore performing in all kinds of spaces, homes, garages, terraces, offices, go-downs etc.”

Recently, Sandbox presented a performance of Ajay Krishnan’s Trivial Disasters in various spaces. The response they received was encouraging. “Everybody has loved the idea of watching a show from so close. It has also been a meeting point of sorts. We once performed to a group of people who hadn’t met in years,” says Shiva. “We have had five to 75 people in a show. We would ideally like to perform to a minimum of 15 people,” adds Nimi.

For the shows, the duo say, they have re-worked performances according to the space. “We take nothing except our props. We try to make each show different,” says Nimi. “We have used lamps innovatively in homes, which has multiplied the drama in the performance.”

“We are handling the Lekhana Festival under our arts management project. We are presenting Koogu, directed and performed by Anish Victor, in collaboration with Michel Casanovas, a contemporary dancer from France. Sandbox is the official representative for the international shows of Piya Behrupiya, a Company Theatre’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night in Hindi,” says Shiva. Nimi adds that Sandbox has recently tied up with a venue partner JDP-le jardin. “The building, at the end of M.G. Road is currently awaiting it’s new avatar, and in the meanwhile, the hosts Mr. Srinivasa Raju, MD of Unnathi Projects has volunteered to host Sandbox’s shows at the venue.”

Their Arts education project is for younger audiences. “One of things we want to do is to create custom-designed workshops for them. Our long-term project is to conduct a children’s performance festival and to take theatre to schools and do small shows that can travel to schools,” says Nimi.

The suggestion of naming the Collective, Sandbox, came from Ajay Krishnan, a well-known writer and playwright. “The name has a sense of playfulness about it, it’s childlike,” says Nimi, smiling. “The logo was designed by Okay Done, a design company. For the logo, they used an old theatre ticket as an outline, and have given the logo more toned-down colours.”

If you take into account that Nimi and Shiva were the same people who came up with the idea of the Great Galata, an initiative that brought the theatre community together, one can look forward to Sandbox Collective doing much in the field of performing arts.

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