Indian Ensemble Training Pedagogy

The training fundamentally is an amalgamation of different devising and performance methods. The fundamental approach is physical. The focus is on knowing ‘ what moves us’ and also how do we translate that which moves us into ‘ drama’. It is a school of creating collaborative theatre with artists of different fields in a way that participants can respond physically to different forms, languages and content. In a way, the school derives its method from the Lecoq pedagogy , which is more of a framework than a syllabus. This framework is used in various theatre schools around the world such as ‘ The International Theatre School- Jacques lecoq ‘ ( Paris) , The London International School of Performing Arts ( Lispa) and also various theatre companies such as Complicite and Theatre de solleil to name a few. However, we must understand that the reason this pedagogy is has evolved over time, so successfully is that this pedagogy is used by many directors around the world since time immemorial , only the pedagogy enables its articulation. The program relies on work with movement, improvisation and collaboration. Indian Classical theatre is also rooted in these three disciplines and so is our folk theatre. Hence, as mentioned before the choice of pedagogy is based on the premise that it enables us to work with people from different backgrounds and contexts together, to be able to create their own theatre. The course structure is built on the following major subjects:

  1. The study of Movement: At the heart of the program is the exploration of expression through the body. In the theatre, the actor’s body is the primary instrument of communication and expression. The course extensively and continuously works towards developing a deep connection with the body of the actor and what she wishes to communicate or express. Movement classes explore the movement vocabulary of an actor. Beyond words and linguistic barriers, movement has the ability to expand theatrical expression to other frontiers. A large part of our work is to be able to work with the body. Hence we continuously work towards movement clarity, rhythms, connecting body positions to emotional states and other such endeavors. Especially since we are a language in-specific program, movement vocabulary helps us to go beyond language. To look at reality in a different way. The actors go through an extensive physical regime during the program and also set up their own physical practice which they need to adhere to as their ongoing ‘riyaz’ on a day to day basis.

  1. Improvisation / Dramatic Writing: A wealth of theatre forms are built around the idea of improvising dramatic text. This invariably enables a collective creation of playful theatre which is ultimately its strength. A large part of the course, works with actors to be able to improvise effectively and hence create meaningful and playable theatrical text irrespective of its nature.

  1. Group Work: Collaboration is at the heart of theatre and consequently at the heart of this program. The class works in different groups and works on their periodic themes. Each theme may last anywhere between a week to an entire term depending on the nature of the project. Apart from classes Participants have to put in at least 9 hours of rehearsal time per week. This is however almost always overshot since the participants make time to rehearse their pieces longer, sometimes till late night or early morning. One of the major goals of the program is to enable the formation of new companies which can continue to do their own work. This sense of working together as co-creators is central to the program

  1. The Study of Nature: Every artist learns immensely from Nature. In the initial months of the program, the sessions are led to observe movement and dramatic rhythm in nature. The exploration of elements, of animal movement , of landscape and natural forms is dealt with using the actors’ bodies.

  1. Study of life around us: An artist invariably draws from around her. This aspect of creation is particularly addressed by creating pieces based on places in our city or our homes. There are observation exercises in which the participants observe and dramatically explore life in markets, public spaces, religious places, private places and even graveyards to name a few.

  1. The Study of Other art forms: The second and third terms exclusively deal with exploring poetry, music, sculpture, architecture and painting as physical forms of exploration. The central question is ‘what moves us’. Why are we moved by a painting or a sculpture and where does this emotion lie in the body. What is the essence of this movement. An artist in the theatre necessarily needs exposure to multiple art forms to be able to add depth to her search.

  1. Exploration of Dramatic Dynamics / The study of existing theatre forms: In the last two terms, we explore the different dramatic dynamics that exist in comedy and in tragedy. Then there is an exploration of what we understand about these dramatic dynamics by observing and exploring a whole host of storytelling forms to ultimately find one’s own form and meaning.
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