Theatre Groups

The Experimental Theatre Foundation

Founded in 1992 by Manjul Bhardwaj and other like-minded people, the Experimental Theatre Foundation practices the philosophy, "Theatre of Relevance". The Experimental Theatre Foundation has completed thirteen years of Theatre Activism (1992-2005).

"I see theatre as being relevant to the context of society and one that owes a social responsibility. It's not just art for art sake but one that caters to human needs and provides itself as a platform for expression (statement)."

- Manjul Bhardwaj.

The organization has gone through a journey starting from street corners to the remote interiors of India. It has done work at the grassroots level in tribal belts, villages, towns and in slums of metropolitan cities. The organization today is known in some International theatre circles and has performed more than twenty-five plays on social issues several times. It has also conducted many workshops in India as well as in Germany where the guiding philosophy of the organization came into being.

Amongst the several projects that the organization has undertaken to date, the concept of a 'Bal Natya Utsav' for example had around a thousand odd children performing in over forty-one plays. This was an event at the national level and it went on for five years. Performances were held at Prithvi theatre, Bal Bhavan, Kranataka Sangh and many other venues.

The organization considers the theatre to be an intervening tool that would help social development and has therefore consistently worked in the direction of doing plays and workshops that would reflect the concerns of deprived and underprivileged societies. In the process it has managed to aid child rehabilitation measures and similar other ones.

To carry out an in-depth study of the work of this organization, the Flinders University in Adelaide, Australia commissioned a research under the following title " An Examination of the Cultural Practices that Impact (Re) Construction of Diasporic Identities: An Ethnographic study of Experimental Theatre Foundation." The organization also documents its scripts and theatrical processes. It works in collaboration with NGO's, support centers and even corporates.

Following are the synopses of some of its plays:

DOOR SE KISINE AWAAZ DI: Written after the Bombay riots of 1992-1993, this play is a plea for communal peace. It is also a scathing indictment of a system where opportunists manipulate religious sentiments for political ends. Eventually it is the common man who becomes helpless pawn in the unscrupulous machinations of the power of politics.

DEKHA - DEKHI: This play is a satire on consumerism i.e. how the media creates need, which are never being fulfilled.

DWANDWA: The Indian woman is either venerated, as a goddess or else pitied as a long -suffering victim figure. Despite the undeniable advent of more progressive attitudes towards gender roles in recent times, the oppression of women persists in subtle and not so- subtle ways. This play explores the issue of domestic violence the way in which the woman at home often finds herself in a far vulnerable position than in a hostile external world.

DHUNDH: DHUNDH (Mist) is a play that explores the delicate and complex theme of child sexual abuse. It juxtaposes the world of vulnerable and innocent childhood with the world of predatory adulthood - two worlds that co-exist within the intimate framework of the family. How can we create a world of sensitive human beings capable of nurturing & protecting millions of defenseless children? At the close, the play invites the viewer to get involved, since no one in the drama of the real world can remain a mute spectator.

MERA BACHPAN: This play explores the issue of child abuse (Labour) and exploitation in its varied manifestations. The play has been performed several times on the street & stage, in different Indian languages. Shows have taken place in India as well as in Germany and the play continues to be performed.

*The above information has been provided by the theatre group in question. Mumbai Theatre Guide takes no responsibility for discrepancy in information, if any.

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