Thrilling acts on stage

Thrilling acts on stage

A year always ends with nostalgia and anticipation — both in equal measure. As people herald a New Year, they often forget that they were a part of a few events that will surely go down in history.

If one can look back with pride at an artform which bustled in 2015 — it surely is theatre. As common men-turned-actors and streets-turned-stages, theatre was certainly triumphant in the City.

Bengaluru reached its pinnacle in theatre. The City witnessed a performance of ‘Hamlet’ by ‘Globe Theatre’, London. The packed auditorium was struck by the magical cast and the minimalistic set which set a new benchmark. Padmashri artistes Aamir Raza Hussain and Mohammad Ali Baig also took theatre to a new tangent by bringing their respective ‘brainchildren’.

In 2015, it was the serious theatre which took masses by storm. ‘Venus in Fur’, a play that explored gender politics, ‘The Prophet And The Poet’, a story based on the letters between Mahatma Gandhi and Rabindranath Tagore and ‘Nirbhaya’, a script which dealt with the brutal Delhi gang rape saw packed venues. Key subjects with witty plots like ‘Dear Father’ and ‘Vagina Monologues’ were also a hit.

Theatre lovers can’t say goodbye to a year gone by without remembering two warm plays – ‘Bombay Talkies’, a story about memorable events set in old Bombay and the tribute to Vaclav Havel, a playwright and president.

The theatre festivals stirred quite a brouhaha too. ‘The Ten Minute Theatre Festival’, ‘Indo-French Theatre Festival’, a jamboree which saw more than 70 actors and directors, ‘AHA! Theatre Festival’ for children, ‘The Deccan Herald Theatre Festival’ and ‘Bangalore One Act Theatre Festival’ brought a bouquet of surprises.

Regional theatre wasn’t far behind. ‘Kannada Natakotsava’ celebrated 10 years of drama in 2015 while ‘Khub Kacher’ was a favoured Bengali play. ‘Dweepa’ and ‘Akshayambara’ were two Kannada plays that garnered maximum attention at the Rangashankara Theatre Festival as did Venkatesh Prasad’s ‘Cherry Thota’.

 Other regional languages came in like a breath of fresh air. National Theatre Festival saw contemporary dramas like ‘Tamasha Na Hua’ in Hindi, ‘Jamleela’ in Rajasthani and ‘Jangtur Pangtur’ in Assamese. The Urdu street play festival, spliced with moving imagery and aesthetic verses, blew urban dwellers away and ‘E=MC2’, a WeMove Theatre production, was presented as part of ‘WeMove’s’ 100th show.

Collective theatre troupes like ‘Yours Truly’, ‘Gillo Theatre Repertory’ and ‘Crea Shakthi fuelled the scene.  

But it’s not just theatre that reached its zenith. Stand-up comedy, without a doubt, was at its heyday. Through live shows, YouTube videos and social media marketing; popular comedians nourished the soil and made way for the younger ones.

Bengaluru saw its first comedy festival where leading artistes like Daniel Fernandes, Biswa Kalyan Rath, ‘PunchTantraa’ and Kenny Sebastian made their mark. From observational comedy, experiential comedy, radical mime to ‘improv’ — the festival saw it all!

‘The Melbourne International Comedy Festival’ was another grand sell out with talent like Ronny Chieng and Kate McLennan and ‘Comedy Centre Chuckle Festival’ saw more than just chuckles with Russel Brand leaving the audience in splits.

If live performances are the remains of a digital era, the year was the season of tours. ‘Biswa In Your Face’ and ‘Inferiority Complex’ by Biswa Kalyan Rath sold out in advance while people rushed to watch ‘Feelings with Kanan Gill’.

Events like ‘Blurred lines’ by Sundeep Rao, ‘United Nations of Laughter’ by Azeem, Abhay and Rajiv, ‘Laugh of the Titans’ by seven City-based comics and ‘N.R.I.T guy’ by Sanjay Manaktala proved that laughter is the best medicine in any year.

The City showed their support to the younger lot as Satish Perumal and Rupen Paul had some whirlwind experiences.

Women stunned the audience as they pushed the boundaries through their subjects and style. Richa and Sumukhi’s ‘Sketch In The City’ and Radhika Vaz’s ‘Older, Angrier and Hairier’, to name a few, were delightful to boot. International humour hit home-grown venues as Russel Peters and Papa CJ elevated the scene with their jibes on their diasporic identities.

Vir Das’s ‘Battle Of Da Sexes’ had the audience in splinters. The last few days of 2015 tapered down with the hilarious three-piece-play, ‘Aisi Taise Democracy’ and was a perfect end to a year of the arts. Now, what remains to be seen is how innovative artistes can get and if young blood who scurried into the scene in 2015 will stay on in 2016.

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