is a spiritual endeavour, and creating theatre in Auroville involves
heart, mind, body.. and lots of spirit.
fact, the work on stage is a reflection of a process that may have started
with a text into which one dives, tempted by its call.. The goal becomes
then the opening up of the story to its widest dimension, while finding
that, as the story unfolds, its inner dimension becomes the key..
search for Truth and a fineness of expression, we experience the joy
of a tale unfolding and of ourselves as artists growing.
we give it time.. Time to dig deep and look wide.
working through improvisation or with a text, Auroville offers a unique
opportunity to mix languages, cultures and ages in its theatrical expression:
unity in diversity through the sacred act of playing together.
Auroville has delighted audiences since the very beginning, when Deborah
Lawlor from the United States created a dance/theatre called 'Praise'
in the Forecomers canyon area in 1969. Since then, theatre has been
an integral part of the creative life of Auroville, whether performed
in English, French or Tamil (and sometimes a mixture of all three!).
Dramas, comedies, improvisations, mime, operas, shadow plays, theatre
sports, dance/theatre, plays for children, all have been enjoyed by
Auroville audiences, attracting spectators from nearby Pondicherry as
well as visitors from abroad.
variety of performances
Auroville has also been the
venue for many
performances by Aurovilians as well as visiting theatre artists,
who have enjoyed playing for appreciative Auroville audiences. Groups
performers from Pondicherry, Mumbai, Chennai, Cochin, Calcutta and Bangalore
as well as from the United States, France, Germany and Finland have
performed in Auroville's Sri
Aurobindo Auditorium (a 750 seat, proscenium stage auditorium).
Smaller performing spaces such as Pitanga Hall Dance Studio, the Visitor's
Centre, Kalabhumi, Last School and Transition School amphitheatres have
also been used.
has presented classicial work from all over the world - Indian Kattakali,
French farce, American realism, British satire, Japanese Bhuto dance/drama
- as well as creating its own, exciting, experimental theatre.
The Auroville Theatre Group has performed such
contemporary work as ' Waiting for Godot', '
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead',
' Black Comedy', ' the Bay at Nice', and 'Endgame', as well as new plays
written by Aurovilians; for example, 'The debate of Love and Death'
based on Sri Aurobindo's Savitri, 'The Legend of the Kaliveli
Siddha' and 'The Greedy Man'. Renowned Indian directors such as
Chandraleka and Veenapani Chawla have performed new works in Auroville's
Sri Aurobindo Auditorium.
Over the years, Auroville has purchased a small complement of theatrical
lighting equipment, including lamps, lamp housings, cables, gels and
a dimmer board.
A storage space in the Auditorium houses a number of costumes from previous
shows, but there is very little room for storing props, set designs
and scenery. There is no set design or props workshop. Costumes are
designed elsewhere in the township and stored in the dressing rooms
until each show is finished.
We have a small theatre collection within the main Auroville Library
in Bharat Nivas. This collection consists of plays, dramatic criticism
and theory, but there are no magazines or journals. The Centre for Indian
Culture also has several volumes on Indian theatre, dance, music and
stage performance. The Auroville schools keep several videotapes of
performances, including some of Shakespeare's plays by the Royal Shakespeare
Company. There are also some private videotape collections that can
be made available.
Theatre classes in improvisation, acting and
Shakespeare scene study
have been part of
the training of Auroville actors. However,
been no classes in aspects of
design, such as lighting, set, or costumes,
nor has there been any organised attempt
at teaching Indian Theatre
or World Theatre
History. We are also still lacking in classes
directing and dramaturgy.
of skills and talents
artists and teachers from abroad have come to Auroville with a wealth
of experience and dedication. Sharing unstintingly their skills and
talents, Auroville's actors, directors and designers from India, the
United States, France, Brazil, Italy, Russia, Switzerland and Germany
have, at times, developed performances of great depth and beauty, sometimes
with very little funding. There is, however, as yet no comprehensive
training programme being offered. We are working towards organising
this, so that the next generation of actors, playwrights and designers
can be encouraged to stay in Auroville and think of theatre as a possible,
continually evolving and rewarding profession.