Vozdukh theatre's Indian debut with music, dramatised memories

Vozdukh theatre's Indian debut with music, dramatised memories
Enduring the biting Siachen Glacier cold, Col Bhagawat had frantically pulled out a fellow soldier from a deep crevice. But the comrade died awaiting supplies. Moments after the retired officer narrated this decades-old, haunting but real story, a Russian trio turned dramatic, visualising the entire episode in arresting emotions.

Unfolding at the Metro Rangoli Centre here recently was the Vozdukh theatre form, a gripping mix of plastic theatre and playback drama, enacted for the first time ever in India. As the audience watched in awe, real-life stories of pain, endurance, adventure and love came alive. It was a rare symphony of music, dance and drama, improvised for deep impact.

Unlike the established playback format, the Vozdukh - a format barely two-and-a-half years old - had given up dialogues. The alternative was a creative fusion of performing arts, deepened by layers of original, spontaneous music. The actors would have absolutely no time to rehearse. Raw stories from the audience scripted their actions as they wove movements of meaning.

Actor-director Ranji David was the Vozdukh's Bengaluru bridge, as he donned the conductor's mantle. Beckoned by David, the audience dived deep into their collective memories to ferret out stories of courage. Like Sunaina's. Her near-death experience after a devastating accident had to be told the Vozdukh way.

In actors Anastasya Vorobyova, Olga Sanachina and Egor Utkin, the Vozdukh had perfected the use of body as an instrument of storytelling.

"Most of us Vozdukh actors are from playback theatre background. We use the dialogue of body language. It suits us because we double up as ballet dancers, musicians and art performers," explained Olga to DH.

It is about finding new ways to transmit human stories. "Our bodies can be props, even protagonists. We take emotions and try to bring them into our bodies," she said. For Col Bhagwat's story, their bodies morphed to echo a regimented, synchronised military setting. Spontaneous body construction shaped the Siachen atmosphere.

This dynamism is what fuels Vozdukh's creative evolution. Just two years in the making, the format is futuristic in its approach, as David points out. His own forays into different theatre forms had helped him spot the spark in Vozdukh during a visit to Moscow in 2016. That collaboration worked, leading to an engaging first show with its intended 'audience connect' bang on target.

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