What is Theatre Garage Project (TGP)?
It is a theatre residency that is conducted by NSD and LAMDA Graduate- Ashwath Bhatt, (email@example.com) at Sonapani, in Ramgarh, Nainital, Uttarakhand, India. This is a 15 day long residency, where theatre-practioners from all over India come to ‘ameliorate’ their expertise in acting and performance. Why Garage? “You come here to ‘grease’ and ‘oil’ your actor/performer-self, like one goes to a garage with your car”, responds Ashwath who conducts this unique workshop. TGP’s Introduction reads as following:
“Theatre Garage Project was conceived in 2007. Its essence lies in breaking patterns, observing life, understanding self & human processes coupled with intensive voice/body and performance training rooted in Red Nose Clowning. We see Red Nose Clowning as a tool for de-stressing all sectors of society and reintroducing laughter in their lives.” And-
“Theatre Garage Project aims to contribute to Indian Theatre by establishing ‘Red Nose Clowning’ as a liberating tool of expression for society and creating spaces to explore, experiment and synthesize Red Nose Clowning with all art streams.” Red Nose Clowning
is a most useful technique to sharpen the craft of an actor. In India, this genre has not developed that well so far. TGP can definitely be the path-breaker for that.In a recent interview Ashwath talks about the germination of TGP –
“I was working for two years with the Flying Fish Theatre Company in Berlin. We went all around Europe, and then traveled and lived in a bus for eight months in South Asia. It was a great experience. So I thought to myself, why not find a place in India itself where people can come to learn and work away from their urban lives. ” The author of this piece of writing, was amongst the participants of the first residency in 2007.
The experience was unforgettable. It is the ideal environment for an actor to work. In the TGP space or the ‘Empty Space’ as it was named by the participants, surrounded by green hills all around, a sweet water fountain and a crystal clear stream passing through it- here the actor can completely devote him/herself to the quest of becoming the artist s/he aspires to become. One forgets the hullaballoo of the city here. One of our favorite exercises was -“Being with Nature”. This exercise is about the actor’s body, without any kind of covers- clothing etc, discovering its ancient relationship with nature. For me, the essence of this whole project is re-establishment of this relationship. Ashwath, during the 15 day residency, predicated time and again that,
“Doing nothing is doing”, the basic principle of “Finding something in nothing”, which he deciphers from his understanding of Alexander Technique. TGP has been a popular event for the theatre artists
. The lack of luxury/ abundance compliments the frugality that TGP brings with its unique form or learning, people come to TGP, a ‘garage’ where the car is our body and Clowning and Alexander Techniques are the tools that Ashwath uses to refurbish the dents we have acquired in our respective journeys.Over the years TGP has seen a fusion of cultures
– enthusiasts have flocked from places like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Siliguri, Lucknow, Pune, Hyderabad, Bihar, Jharkhand, Assam, Kashmir and so on. As a conscious decision TGP has based itself in Ramgarh, Nanital away from the distractions of city life. The TGP hut is embedded in the midst of Mother Nature with basic facilities which we are trying to improve with time”. The Hut is definitely better equipped and basic things like cooking food have been taken care of, although we had to cook our own food at the first TGP, which was also quite a learning experience.
“When I started off with TGP, people actually told me things like ‘Who will go to the jungles, with you? These are crazy ideas that you have”, recalls Ashwath, “and now that it is working in full swing and people are taking interest in it, the same people want to come and experience it as well. I want this project to evolve into a permanent residency soon. We are looking for funds, and people who can share their expertise with us. Anyone who is willing to share ideas is most welcome to contribute. The aim is to form a community where people work harmoniously together and grow for the betterment of the art.” Thanks to his ‘crazy idea’,
actors at all stages in their career , now have the opportunity to get away from the city-life, worries and pressures and concentrate and pull their divided focus on what they like to do most, ‘Acting’ at the TGP space. A fresh episode of TGP is starting from 28th May- 11th June
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