The stage is set for the Short+Sweet ten minute theatre festival, curated by Anita Mithra
Anita Mithra stepped onto the stage at age four as Red Riding Hood. Several avatars and performances later, here she is helping artists do what they are best at – perform. “I know what it feels like to have theatre in the blood. It is a virus and one may as well give in and enjoy the disease... I tried my best to stay away, be sensible, earn a living through conventional methods. I have worked as a trainer using theatre practices to help develop personalities, teach managerial skills and even detox troubled souls. Theatre is a magic elixir,” she beams, adding, “You will find the deepest thinkers, the most radical lives, the most expansive joys and intense passion in this field. I belong here not because I think I am the above, but because I can’t survive without the above.”
With Anita’s personal, professional, intellectual and ideological relation to theatre, the stage is set for the Short+Sweet ten minute theatre festival at Rangoli, Metro Station, M.G. Road. “Spread between March 7 to April 5, we have over 60 teams participating this year, of which, 25 teams are new to the festival,” says Anita, the fest’s director, adding, “The format remains the same, plays within ten minutes, every night. The teams are then voted into the finale by the audience and an anonymous panel of judges each night. The top plays and performers win awards.”
Into its third run, Anita brought Short+Sweet, the world’s largest ten minute format theatre fest to Bangalore three years ago. In striving to take it forward, Anita’s challenge has been to get the world to realise how important it is to support the arts. “It’s still not considered ‘cool’ to sponsor theatre. It’s changing slowly, but surely. This year, we have doubled our entries and have teams from Chennai participating. This speaks highly of both the Chennai and Bangalore festivals making such a positive impact, that theatre groups are willing to travel at their own expense. We had Bangalore and Chennai teams travel to Hyderabad as well in December 2013 to participate in the first ever fest there,” says Anita.
With groups crossing geographical boundaries, the big picture behind hosting Short+Sweet surfaces. “This festival has been conceptualised to provide a platform for any artist who would like to express a creative idea through the performing arts,” she says, adding, “It helps foster a sense of community within the performing arts fraternity and thus bring about the birthing of new ideas, new alliances and discovery and nurturing of new talent.”
Over the past three runs of Short+Sweet, theatre has expanded in the city. “This year, we are talking of 300 people plus. Everywhere I go, people ask me when the next fest is and tell me how they enjoyed the last one. Actors promise me that the next year they will find time, get the courage, find a group so that they can be part of it,” says Anita.
With several short format theatre fests taking shape in the city after the introduction of Short+Sweet, Anita feels that efforts from the theatre community should be collaborative. “This isn’t a business where we should be seeking a monopoly. We should be building audiences in general, helping out with actors, resources, projects and our time,” she says.
So, a day in Anita’s life involves thinking of new ways to reach non-theatre goers and non performers, looking for areas to use theatre to impact lives.
For, theatrical talent, feels Anita, is all about the ability to ‘be’ just in the moment, in character, effortlessly. “Some people are naturals and others work hard to achieve the same effect. Either way, it’s mesmerising to see. Like recently, at a corporate theatre workshop – I saw sheer delight on the faces of employees who had never done theatre before. It’s an ocean of uncharted waters we have in this city,” explains Anita.
In fact, this crusader for the stage sees a great future for the performing arts in this country. “More and more people are veering off the beaten path and pursuing performance. It’s a scary path, but what a world it will be when more people take to thinking and creating rather than looting and destroying. Thanks to the theatre people in Bangalore who worked for years to get audiences to come and watch, be a part of and get involved in performance. Stuff we take for granted now – you know who you are, thank you for keeping the faith for us,” beams Anita.
Rangasthala, Rangoli Art Centre, MG Road.
Groups from Bangalore and Chennai.
Week 3- 5 shows
Top 30 C