'It must be difficult for artistes here'

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'It must be difficult for artistes here'
When the Nimrod Theatre Building in Sydney was threatened with demolition charges so that the creative forum could be turned into an apartment complex, more than 600 ardent art lovers and entertainers from Australia came together to save this unique performance space.

Renamed Belvoir Theatre Company, it is one of Australia’s most celebrated theatre groups. Under the leadership of the general manager Brenna Hobson, the company has churned out some of the most professional and promising playwrights, directors, actors and designers. But it’s not just at home that they present their dynamic, visionary work. The company also regularly travels across the globe and puts up some of their best productions at major arts centres and festivals. 

And from the ‘Land Down Under’, their in-house production, ‘Stories I Want To Tell You In Person’, travelled to India and was staged at Jagriti Theatre recently, supported by the Australian High Commission and Australia India Council.

This was Brenna’s second time in the City as she was already here in 2012, when she was working for a festival and meeting theatre artistes from India. “It’s great when we travel through work and meet people who are in the same industry as we are. We try and understand a lot of similarities and see how the industry works here as compared to Australia. We are enjoying Bengaluru a lot; eating ‘kulfi’, ‘vadas’ and ‘gulab jamun’ and getting fat in the process! This is such a huge city to explore. I have discovered new things wherever we go. In Australia, the cityscape is similar and we know which is the centre and the suburb. Here, the city is in transition and everything is developing. So we find a tall building in Whitefield and think it’s the centre but it’s actually a suburb.”

 As a travelling theatre company, she says that they always face challenges with the sets and logistics and tweak nuances in the script to suit different countries. She explains, “Logistically, there is always something going wrong because we travel a lot. We do make changes in the way we communicate our plays, just to make sure that the audience understands the play in a way they should. We tweak nuances and change jokes, depending on our audience, but overall, our script is the same.”

Quite rightly, she points out certain differences in the theatre scene too. While in India she found that theatre is quite seasonal, back home, productions last for a whole year and slowly develop over time.

“It must be difficult for artistes here. Australia is also one of the three countries where theatre for the young and by the young is quite popular. There is a bit of theatre for children as well. There are about eight theatre companies where people are practising theatre professionally. We don’t suffer from a problem of funding and sponsorship as we get adequate amounts from various levels of government. And thankfully, there isn’t a censorship culture as such.”

Apart from reflecting life and reality, Belvoir focuses on plays that reflect the indigenous and colonised culture, where it is mainly about the social consciousness of indigenous people and how theatre can make a difference to life.

Brenna is making a trip to Kerala next to put up her production for the Satellite festival and then will head to Mumbai before going to Sydney. “Looking forward to come back to Bengaluru,” the cheerful artiste says.

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