JUXTAPOSING narratives


Anjua Ghosalkar and Kai Tuchmann jointly hold a three-day workshop to educate and engage audience in documentary theatre

For theatre that bases its performance on documents which can range from officially verified archives to personal letters, the perception of ‘documents’ becomes central. For practitioners of this form of theatre, a document is something that describes a certain reality. But ‘whose reality? And from whose perspective?’ and a lot more questions that come as an extension of this understanding are being dealt with creatively in their individual and collaborative projects by Kai Tuchmann, a German theatre director who currently teaches theatre in China, US and Germany and Anuja Ghosalkar, Founder and Artistic Director of Drama Queen, a Bangalore-based theatre company.

About the workshop
  • Starting Realities is open to not only actors, artists, academics but students and people from all disciples. The workshop is for three days and begins today at 7 p.m.
  • The workshop discusses the veracity of He Jjiankui’s claim to have first ever created genetically edited babies. It probes into the question: ‘does social media or self-publishing on the internet challenge the working methods of independent press?’
  • The venue for the workshop is Goethe-Institut, Indiranagar, Bangalore. Registration fee for the workshop is Rs. 1500. For registrations call 09886741331 or email

They jointly curate ‘Starting Realities’ – a workshop that investigates a very thin line that exists between documentary truth, fiction and falseness -- in Bangalore. Edited excerpts of an interview with the curators:

How did you step into documentary theatre?

Anuja: I stumbled upon this form in 2013 at a workshop (by Kai) in Bangalore. I could see the potential this form had for engaging with contemporary realities.

Kai: The municipal theatre system that I was part of initially, adhered to strict division of labour. As it was more of systematic training and practice, I felt it concentrated only on developing actors’ skills. After a point, I was fed up of this method as I felt it was largely assembly-line.

Traditional theatre had a clear idea of its end product in the initial stage itself. Whereas, I looked for methods that allowed me reverse this whole process -- techniques that gave scope to create on-the-go.

What potential do you see in documentary theatre?

Anuja: It provides the scope to challenge the grand narrative with the help of a number of individual narratives. Secondly, it bridges the gap between the performer and the audience by enabling a space where audience can actively participate.

JUXTAPOSING narratives

Kai: When a document reflects certain parts of your past, it is sure to bring a whole lot of memories. And each memory would trigger a range of emotions. Documentary theatre thus allows us to connect different times and intersect them.

How do you ensure privacy and safety of the audience when you make it participatory, such as The Reading Room?

Anuja: People bring their personal letters to The Reading Room. I ensure that names of the participants are nowhere written in the letter. Moreover, they read not their own but someone else’s letter to the group.

How does documentary theatre create archives for the future?

Kai: When we research on how dominant understandings of the past have an impact on our present situation, we also get to know how certain interpretations of the past would shape our approaches towards future.

What draws you to the Chinese theatre groups you currently work with?

What I like about these troupes is that they do not conform to mainstream theatre and hold on to their unique aesthetics even when their financial conditions are tight.

Having also worked with Iraq, Palestine and Sudan artists, my concern has been to explore: ‘how to assemble and negotiate the present in such politically rigid climates or war scenarios when an organised or institutionalised theatre seems impossible?’ This is also a factor that has forced me to rethink the way theatre is being practised today.

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Printable version | Jan 18, 2020 10:15:14 PM |

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