Theatre Awardees 2019: Kanchan Avchare, Mamul Tanwar & Renukamma
The Theatre Awardees for 2019 are, Kanchan Avchare, Mamul Tanwar and Renukamma. Through expression, movement and gesture these three talented women hope to explore social issues, various forms of traditional theatre and help people drop their inhibitions.
When I first started theatre, my practice revolved around enacting the text at hand. However as time has passed it has evolved to reading between the lines and looking for the subtext. Spoken languages have a way of limiting communication, I believe in non-verbal forms of communication such as movement, gesture and expression.
It is while I was working on a solo performance about women’s issues that I started to explore movement-based performances. The issues faced by women are universal and need to be discussed via a medium that can be understood by audiences at large. This is how I developed an interest in the physical language of the body. My exploration made me realize that we tend to condition our bodies, block our senses and develop inhibitions. We restrict our movements to normative everyday actions and don’t stop to consider possibilities outside of what we know. For example, everyone is born with the inherent ability to swim, however growing up we are cautioned with the fear of drowning and we develop inhibitions.
Theatre can be an instrumental medium in enabling people to shed their inhibitions and become more open and aware of themselves. Through my work I would like to help people do just this, I would like to help them unlearn what they know and find new ways to express themselves. I am evolving a practice that uses traditional art forms in a contemporary setting. It is these explorations that form the bases of my work.
One of my most recent works is a solo performance piece titled, 'Happily Tagged Ever', for which I received an award by Expression Lab, Pune . I have based this work on poetry that deals with issues that women face during their lives. I also worked on and off stage in productions with theatre groups based in Mumbai and Pune.
I am currently working with the Nireeksha Theatre Group in Trivandrum as theatre instructor for children. I am also learning the basics of Kalaripayattu, Kudiyattam and Bharatnatyam along with Kathakali.
I strongly believe that one must express ideas and thoughts by through impulses and the reactions of the body rather than using a logical approach. For me theatre is not about thinking logically but expressing impulsively.
I am very grateful to have received the Inlaks Theatre Award.
Growing up in a Rajput home, I didn’t see the girls of my family having much freedom. I never saw my sisters going out with their friends, roaming the streets or even pursuing their dreams. They did not have a say in any important decision, not even ones about their life. As a child I thought that would be my life, I would have to just obey my parents and the elders of my family and do what they think is best for me.
It was after only after I started to college that my perspective changed. That year was the first step towards a whole new path. From my first year at college I indulged in many different activities and joined organisations such as theatre and volunteering at Pravah Jaipur Initiative. It was during this time that I realized language was a big barrier between my peers and me and learned that expressions communicate more than speech.
Once I started practicing theatre I was very keen to have a theatre group in my college. After over two years of persuading the college management I finally got the permission to start a drama society in my final year. I finally succeeded in forming ‘Vyaktitva’, the first drama society of Maharani’s College.
Our club performed plays about social awareness, for example, a fake dowry case in the news prompted me to write my first play “Mard ka Dard”. I also directed plays about widows of Rajasthan, life of folk theatre artists, struggle of transgender community and women desiring solitude. I realised that theatre is something I want to make my career and left my education in science to pursue a masters in dramatics.
For me art is to make people aware. I want to translate the struggles and joys of life into works of art.
I am Renukamma from a village called Honnahalli in Lingsugur taluk of Raichur district, North Karnataka. I have completed a two-year theatre diploma during which time I had the opportunity to act in a variety of plays such as, Yakshagana, Museums Bale, A Midsummer Night Dreams, Neera Hakki Jaada Hididu, Bharta Yatre, Vadhuti and many other productions.
I have also had the opportunity to practice theatre song and exercises, Kolatta Yogasana, mask making, short plays, children's play, melodrama, street play mainly about women’s issues, mime, forum theatre, makeup, Chigon (Tai-chi). I have acted in a Kannada feature film in a lead role.
Currently I am working as a theatre teacher at Visthar Ranga Shale (Visthar Theatre School).
In the coming year, with the help the Inlaks grant I will research the various forms of Kolatta in Karnataka.