Theatre Theatre

When Rathna Shekar Reddy finds an opportunity, he passes it on

Rathna Shekar Reddy

Rathna Shekar Reddy   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

Samahaara founder Rathna Shekar Reddy grooms the next line of directors and artistes to take theatre legacies forward

It is one thing to take the centre-stage and another to help build a team of artistes and let them be in the spotlight. For a few years now, Samahaara, the Hyderabad-based theatre group’s founder Rathna Shekar Reddy has stepped aside to encourage young directors and artistes to take charge of their productions. Rathna Shekar, who recently completed 100 theatre workshops (theatre appreciation, corporate, weekend workshops for beginners, production-oriented and film acting) is jubilant with the way the Samahaara family has grown bringing many new members under its fold. “The workshop productions conducted by the associates of Samahaara and other theatre professionals are 175,” he says with pride.

Most of the success comes from their initiative ‘Samahaara Theatre Co-operative (STC)’ This concept was introduced when Rathna Shekar found that the actors were not available for a repeat performance. “These artistes were working professionals and I couldn’t take the risk of investing time and money with them,” he recalls. Rathna Shekhar calls STC a step to collaborate and co-operate.

Artistes rehearse for a play

Artistes rehearse for a play   | Photo Credit: By arrangement

When an artiste is selected and enrolled in this co-operative, they will have to work with the group for an year. “Neither the artistes have to pay me anything nor I will pay them but I will provide them opportunities; it’s my duty as a director to get them opportunities to act in plays.” The 10 actors who were selected last year were part of the Shakespearean drama Macbeth in Telugu and Kundeti Kommu and now look forward to stage Chalam’s Maidanam at Lamakaan next week. “The artistes, who have staged close to 40 shows of these plays complete one year and have an option to stay back for another year or do their own thing.”

Taking on the challenge
  • Directed by Nasreen Ishaaque, Telugu play Chalam’s Maidanam will be staged on August 10 and 11 at Lamakaan. Rathna Shekar wanted the team to try something different and challenging. “Since the co-operative actors were finishing one year, we wanted them to try a Telugu play which doesn’t adhere to a formula,” he shares adding he had earlier read the novel several times. “I read the book again and realised it will be relevant even today. Also, my father-in-law Mohan Koda has a copyright to make the film.”
  • Director and theatre trainer Pejjai Nagaraju and team of artistes acclaimed for short plays Saari Raat, Bakasura, staged Maa Bhoomi at Phoenix Arena on August 3 and 4. “Written by by Sunkara Satyanarayana and Vaasireddy Bhaskar Rao in 1947, this political drama gives us a glimpse of life in rural Telangana and how people suffered under the burden of taxation and the exploitation of zamindari system,” he shares.

The six-director team for workshop productions include Pejjai Nagaraju, Sandeep Sahu, Pallavi Banothu, SV Ramana and Nasreen Ishaque. During an orientation, Rathna Shekar meets with the artistes to introduce the director. “The workshop production director is in charge and I never interfere. I give the same freedom to directors that I expect to be given when I am handling a play,” he states adding his job is to make his team comfortable. “I take care of the auditorium, publicity and logistics.”

This system is in place even after the play ends. “The artistes approach me for my feedback but I never comment. The director would have had a vision for the play and his comments are significant than mine. The team sits together to discuss if that vision has been fulfilled or some improvements are needed.”

On a visit to Samahaara’s office at Banjara Hills, one finds the place buzzing with activity all day. The acting rehearsals take place from 4 pm.

Children are initiated into theatre at the workshops held in Madhapur and Kondapur. The weekend workshops at Nritya Forum for Performing Arts are conducted by Rathna Shekar.

He is satisfied with his journey in the field; the motivation to be a pillar of support for others comes from his own life. “When I see budding artistes, I remember the struggle I had to endure as a newcomer for five years. I want to encourage and also I am not a Superman, capable of doing everything; So, whenever I find an opportunity, I pass it on.”

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 5:50:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/theatre/samahaara-founder-rathna-shekar-reddy-completes-100-workshop-productions/article28823225.ece

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