Four theatre buffs are set to change the scene for English theatre in Thiruvananthapuram
The city has always been an open stage for Malayalam theatre but not so much for English theatre, save for a few efforts here and there. Theatre enthusiasts Siddharth Nair and Abhinav Kumar, along with London-based theatre person Manoj Nair and event management entrepreneur Kevin Simon, hope to change the status quo for English theatre in the city. As such they have founded the Divine Comedy – The Theatre Company to promote and propagate English theatre.
“We each have a history with each other and whenever we all used to meet up, inevitably the discussion would turn to theatre and performing arts. Over the course of our conversations, we came to realise that there is a huge dearth of English theatre in the city. And it’s not because people are not interested in it, but because it’s simply not there,” adds Manoj. Siddharth, who is a popular VJ and producer, adds: “There is no framework as such for English theatre in Kerala, let alone in the city. There is no level playing field even where theatre enthusiasts can come and share their experiences and thoughts on English performing arts. We felt that it was high time that we explored the potential for English plays here.”
Divine Comedy opened their account by running theatre workshops, at Manoj’s behest. “The idea of the workshops was to find how receptive people were to English theatre and drama,” says Kevin.
The quartet soon found that there was a lot of interest among citizens for the workshops that focussed on acting, communication skills, voice-overs, postures, text analysis, spatial awareness and so on. “At our first workshop itself we were really surprised by the diversity of the people who turned up. There was a performing arts student, an advertising professional, a television executive, a few people from Technopark, a French artiste who came on an observational capacity...,” says Manoj. “What we really want to do is form a core group of like-minded theatre enthusiasts to take things forward. Unless you have a core group you can’t really think of a production. We want to run theatre workshops parallel to the shows to put the idea out there that theatre is also very therapeutic in many ways. For one, it changes your perception of who you are. Also, it can change your personality for the better, for it takes a lot of guts to stand up on stage and emote.”