Visakhapatnam

A theatre workshop with a difference

Clearing fundas:  Theatre personality M K Raina conducting a workshop   in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.

Clearing fundas: Theatre personality M K Raina conducting a workshop in Visakhapatnam on Thursday.

The stage is set for new beginnings that go beyond boundaries. It’s a start of a journey seeking to bring alive the long lost theatre tradition of the region.

After a long lull in the regional theatre scene, a first of its kind month-long theatre workshop is under way at Andhra University’s TLN Sabha Hall. Organised by Natyasudha in collaboration with India’s premier theatre institution National School of Drama (NSD), the workshop is being mentored by M.K. Raina, one of the most distinguished theatre practitioners in the country.

As one enters the venue, the otherwise quiet precincts of the space is swallowed up in the warren of activity wherein 26 participants from parts of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Karnataka and Uttaranchal learn the finer nuances of theatrical skills from the theatre stalwart.

“They are a very enthusiastic group of people and I have been grilling them really,” says the affable Raina as he takes a break from a voice class. As he settles down for a chat, the motley group of participants practice yoga, another essential element of the workshop. It was encouraging to see how they were pushed to use their imagination, not merely through improvisation exercises sans theatrical amenities like lighting design, makeup and costumes, but by making the participants understand that the body is the instrument – that quintessential theatre is all about.

Kuldip Singh, who has come all the way from Haridwar, says it is an experience that has made him learn many elements of acting.

“I have been in the field of theatre for the past three years, but it is a never-ending learning graph and a very special experience to get trained under Raina sir,” he says.

There are participants from East Godavari and Bhimavaram who are here for the workshop, apart from people from Hyderabad and Bangalore.

“We did take up acting courses in some of the famous acting institutes in Hyderabad, but the experience here is very different. We are taught the basics of acting. It helps understand theatre from a social and historical context,” says B. Srinath and N. Rakashekhar from Hyderabad.

Ironically, the theatre workshop comes at a time when the university’s Department of Theatre Arts has been in a state of stupor from quite sometime now. With a three-member faculty sans any student in the current batch, the Theatre Arts Dept. awaits a new beginning. Raina, who was here last in 1980 for a similar theatre workshop laments that not much has changed since then.

“The State government needs to rethink. This region’s theatre is not represented nationally anywhere, except in the traditional theatre space. What’s ailing the theatre scene of AP is the contemporary attitude. You have to break the mould. You have to make new parameters and create new ways of looking at things. The university should get minds from outside to get AP’s theatre scene going,” he adds.

Jayaprada Chalasani, founder of Natyasudha, says the workshop will culminate on August 25 with two acts – one from Girish Karnad’s Tughlaq and another from An Enemy of the People.


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Printable version | Aug 27, 2022 1:09:17 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Visakhapatnam/a-theatre-workshop-with-a-difference/article19468030.ece