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Blending entertainment with education in a very attractive package, the next Navhind Times, Planet J workshop on theatre is slated for June 26. Open to the age group of 13 to 19 years, the half-day workshop will be conducted by playwright, Isabel Santa Rita Vas. In conversation with NT KURIOCITY, Vas speaks about the workshop, theatre and more.

Theatre matters

 

Maria Fernandes | NT KURIOCITY

It is said that exposure to the arts at a young age lays the foundation for a culture of understanding and appreciation that most often lasts a lifetime. Blending entertainment with education in a very attractive package, the next Navhind Times, Planet J workshop is on theatre. Playwright and founder of amateur theatre group, The Mustard Seed Art Company, Isabel Santa Rita Vas will facilitate the half-day workshop which is open to the age group of 13 to 19 years and will be held on June 26 at Dempo House, Panaji from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“The workshop is designed specifically for those between the ages of 13 and 19 and aims at familiarising young people with theatre as a form of art. It will introduce the participants to the basics of theatre, with special emphasis on the role of the creative imagination, collaborative processes and effective communication,” explains Vas with regards to the workshop’s objective.

Essentials of a theatre performance, team work and performing for an audience are the broad topics that have been included in the meticulously planned itinerary. Participants will be encouraged to communicate effectively, open up, use their imagination, get creative and have fun while learning. Elaborating further, Vas says: “The workshop will cover areas such as use of voice, story improvisation, mime, coordination of thought and movement, expression of emotion, body movements and much more.”

Asked to rate voice, body movement and expression of emotion in terms of importance, she says: “They are all interdependent skills and are all equally important. Different genres of theatre would emphasise one or more of these, for instance mime or physical theatre would highlight body movement as the means of expression and appeal to the imagination of the spectator whereas in opera, voice takes precedence.”

In a large theatre auditorium volume of voice plays an all important role. Actors need to be able to project their voice but still keep connected to the emotional truth of the character. They need not shout to be heard but the audience needs to hear them. Emphasising this point, Vas says: “The voice is a great treasure that the actor must learn to explore and use creatively.”

Under essentials of theatre performance, participants will be given tips on creative use of space. “Theatre artistes use their bodies within physical space and are inescapably called to create visual images and rhythms within the spaces they occupy. A theatre person is very aware of the possibilities that physical spaces offer and eager to experiment with them. In the workshop participants will be given exercise whereby they will understand this concept of using space creatively,” says Vas.

Amongst the few things that help children gain confidence, being on stage in front of a live audience, comes first on the list. Stage fright, awkwardness and coyness give way to confidence and self expression through theatre. Reiterating this point of view, Vas says: “Theatre is a rich, colourful and a highly collaborative art; a concerted happening where performer and audience, literary text and performance, body and imagination, mind and heart attempt to recreate and interpret life. Young people find opportunities to free their imagination, their bodies, and their creative potential; as they learn to be authentic and treat others humanely and honestly, they grow in self-confidence and joy.”

Elaborating further on the benefits of theatre, she says: “One major gift of theatre springs from its collaborative nature. Performers experience the excitement of collaborative work, with the individual and the team, both celebrated. The movement away from rivalry and the competitive spirit is indeed wonderfully healing.”

She is also of the opinion that making theatre a subject of the curriculum in school and colleges will open up avenues not just for creative expression but also give Goan youth the push in the right direction in making them more confident and better communicators. “I am hugely impressed by the fact that we, in Goa, do have disciplines like music, theatre and art on offer, and qualified teachers to teach them. If we can only fine-tune the already existing system and keep building on it, the arts in Goa will receive a great fillip,” she says.

Speaking about the basic requirements for a career in acting, she says: “Careers in acting in theatre and in film are increasingly a possibility; but they would demand great commitment to these mediums and the ability to take risks. Various institutions offer courses in Theatre Arts. Sometimes people discover they can carve spaces for creativity for themselves in their lives even if, professionally, they follow other careers; thus the arts, theatre amongst them, help source hitherto undiscovered energy and power and joy.”

Asked in which areas Goan youngsters need to improve with regards to their acting skills, she says: “Each young person who steps into the world of theatre needs to get acquainted with all the facets of theatre arts. They may then explore what appeals to them the most, it may be acting, but it may also be other skilled areas like costume design, light design, set design, music, dance and choreography, make-up, direction, production, etc. Hard work is essential in whatever field one might choose to specialise. If they wish to be actors, participants need to work tirelessly to know and empower the breath, body movement, voice, emotional memory and expression; they learn to be observant and mutually supportive. Such an investment of themselves in theatre is a rich seed that will yield a more exciting harvest than they might ever have imagined.”

Signing off she says: “Goan youth generally discover great magic in theatre.  If success is to be measured in terms of self-discovery, self-confidence and a widening of horizons, young people do indeed taste the excitement of success through theatre.”

The workshop promises to be a place to discover and appreciate the artist within you.

To join the workshop, send an e mail with your name, age, school/college and telephone numbers to planetj@navhindtimes.com by June 19 or call on 6651111.

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