The Company Theatre is attempting to create a third language for artistes with its Theatre-Film-Theatre, Festival Of Shorts
Theatre is no longer confined to the proscenium. It has claimed space on our smartphones and is being played out on Instagram and Facebook timelines or on the Zoom video app. Though the pandemic confined us to our homes, theatre in a way was liberated from the limits of being presented only on stage.
But can it really transition to being a form of virtual art? Purists may completely dismiss this idea, but there are many artistes who have adopted technology to present their performances and reach out to the audience. However, not all experiments have been successful in creating theatre digitally. But Mumbai-based The Company Theatre (TCT) is attempting to create a third language that’s neither theatre nor cinema. They say the experiment can’t be categorised as an online performance on Zoom, neither can it be classified as filmmaking.
The third language
Titled, Theatre-Film-Theatre, Festival of Shorts, it’s a project that’s built on extensive collaboration and camaraderie with over a hundred artistes who have come together to create 15 short films based on play scripts from the world of drama. “We are exploring a new form. The script and actors are from theatre, but the execution of the plays is cinematic,” explains Vara Raturi, one of the curators and a core team member. Mentored by Atul Kumar, founder, TCT, the festival is co-curated by Mallika Singh, Sonal Gupta, Baani Singh and Anupam Barve.
Theatre practitioners from across India worked pro-bono to create these films. “The idea for this project was born out of boredom of watching actors doing monologues in front of a still camera,” says Vara, adding, “We started work at the end of May this year, and are ready to go live from August 30.” Remotely shot and directed, each of these films is made with free scripts that the core team collated after a lot of research. From Shakespeare and Tagore to other regional scripts, it’s a mixed bag of some very unique films.
Weaving a new dream
The first film to stream is Aab-e-ZamZam, directed by Mohit Agarwal. An adaptation of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, it promises to be a visual extravaganza despite being shot within the lockdown limitations. A trained dancer and theatre artiste, Mohit turns director with this 13-minute film. He writes in the director’s note, “The film I am presenting holds a special place in my heart. It is like my tribute to the sublime black and white era where everything was so simple, yet the essence of cinema was established back then, without the taam jham (laborious work) of glorious colours or effects. I’ve learnt Street Style and Bollywood dance both of which I’ve tried to mix to create a perfect experimental blend of retro moves with a punch of Charlie Chaplin. Adding to it is the chase and pace of Tom and Jerry which gives the film the desired beat.”
Aab-e-Zamzam is the story of four people- Juni, Kuku, Nikki and Rocky and two magical beings- Oberon and Puck. The synopsis describes it as, ‘a story of love, laughter and some serious chaos created by a simple love potion.’
This film will be live on TCT’s official website for 48 hours, and then the next film, Women Of Rome releases. Every film will be available to watch only for two days, and the festival goes on until the end of September. Although it’s a first-of-its-kind attempt, TCT hopes their experiment helps create a distinct space for artistes and their art, something that’s between theatre and cinema.