Actors hone their skills in theatre workshops

August 6th, 2008 - 12:01 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Taare Zameen Par
By Madhusree Chatterjee
New Delhi, Aug 6 (IANS) Schools have opened after their summer holidays. Now it is the turn of professional actors to hone their skills in theatre workshops and learn new techniques from experts. Acting, as Russian actor and director Constantin Sergeyevich Stanislavski - the father of naturalistic acting - says, is a serious method where an actor uses his tools to portray reality.

Those tools need to be touched up from time to time and this is where workshops come in. They are held in the summer and the monsoon since there are relatively few performances at this time of the year.

“Theatre workshops serve two purposes. First, workshops help troupes to refresh the skills of their own crew. Second, they help in spotting new talents and raise funds for the annual expense pool by way of participation fee,” Delhi-based actor-director and scriptwriter Sunit Sinha told IANS.

The workshops follow a pattern. The first two months of the four-month schedule see a spurt in drama workshops for schoolchildren.

For kids, the theatre workshops are primarily holiday activity camps where they learn new skills, entertain themselves and develop positive personality traits.

This year, the capital played host to several children’s theatre workshops in May and June. For instance, Purvavyas, a 15-day workshop for children aged between eight and 17 taught them theatre games and the art of acting for just Rs.1,000. Its primary objective was personality development and team building.

IEntertainment and Maxfort School conducted a five-day workshop for children aged between 7 and 11 years in Dwarka and Rohini, while the National School of Drama (NSD) held its usual summer workshop for children.

Post June, theatre groups organise rigorous training sessions for aspiring actors and those who have already debuted on stage.

“This is where established actors learn new techniques,” said Sinha, who is organising the Chameleon Actor-Advance Acting Skills Training Workshop in collaboration with NSD alumni for two days in August.

He is charging an entry fee of Rs.6,000 from every participant and offers group discounts on mass registrations for the workshop that will focus on the chameleon method of acting.

“Actors are born with the lives of various characters through tools like voice, body and mind. It is mandatory to sharpen the same tools to explore and express the entire range of emotions.

“Chameleons are gifted by nature. The power and the skill to use their external and internal tools are not just for survival, but also to satisfy their urgent physical and emotional needs,” Sinha said.

NSD conducts workshops round the year through its extension programme. Under the programme launched in 1978, NSD faculty and alumni conduct workshops across the country and in Bhutan.

The Traditional Theatre, an add-on to NSD’s extension programme set up in 1980, facilitates interaction between traditional and contemporary theatre artistes through special workshops. These sessions not only introduce the uninitiated to theatre, but also try to expand the emotional horizons of the participants.

“Summer and the winter are the time when the maximum number of workshops are held in the country mostly because schools are closed. Several private organisations and theatre groups conduct theatre workshops in collaboration with the NSD during this season. Besides, the NSD also conducts weekend workshops for children,” Aditee Biswas, an NSD faculty member, told IANS.

Vipin Sharma, an NSD alumni and winner of the Star Screen Awards’ best supporting actor honour for his performance in “Taare Zameen Par”, is a strong votary of workshops. He feels there should be training sessions for playwrights as well.

“In India, there is no formal institute that offers formal training in stage or screen writing. It’s high time we took it more seriously than we do now since that is the basis of any great work we see on stage or screen,” he said.

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