While we are all trying to make sense of the past few years, yet another year is upon us! One-half of the internet is busy sharing memes about still processing 2020 while the other half has started with their year-end posts, holiday plans and all that’s to come next.
With murmurs of another deadly variant and the political upheaval we find ourselves in, it is no small thing to hold on to joy, excitement, and hope for the new year.
Not one to let go of a reason to celebrate, we reached out to our DSM alumni community to do some snooping around about their plans for the year ahead. From doing some really cool work, pushing different practices forward and being excited about their dance classes, they are all set to jump in and make the most of it.
If you were feeling clueless and a bit lost about what to do next year, or wanted something to be excited about, read on because these folks are only getting started.
Apeksha Vora (Actor, Researcher, Educator, Playwright) Batch 2018-19
“I’ve seen some path-breaking work in 2022 that has broken barriers of gender, sexuality, caste, class, religion and divisive ideologies.
I’m excited to see more of these new, young and brave voices take to the stage to show a mirror to the society we live in, to help us experience, feel, and think collectively, and move us towards better versions of ourselves and the world.”
Prajesh Kashyap (Actor, Writer, Musician) Batch 2018-19
“More plays, more friends, and well, more money! I look forward to projects that will inspire and challenge me in ways I haven’t yet imagined, friendships that will help me sail through, and mentors I can trust and love. Here’s to more masti, more drama and casting directors with more imagination.”
Ashish Atrey (Actor, Writer, Theatre-maker and current member of Indianostrum Theatre Repertory) Batch 2019-20
“I have always wanted to explore intercultural theatre devising. Indianostrum Theatre has been a wonderful starting point and I want to take this forward and collaborate with independent practitioners from different cultures and backgrounds; devise with the art form rather than use it. I believe in a collaborative process and this year I’m excited to work with what everyone brings to the room and build from there instead of working only with the text. The city makes you dependent on external factors, and I’d not want to be bound by that. I am looking forward to interacting with a wide variety of theatre practices, practitioners, perspectives and ways of living.
There are artists already working and engaging with artists out of their milieu and I hope more folks make work keeping the socio-political realities in mind and we reach a wider audience.”
Rashmi Khanna (Multi-disciplinary artist, and current member of Indianostrum Theatre Repertory) Batch 2020-21
“2022 began with me getting back on stage at Indianostrum Theatre and exploring cultures and folk forms in India.
Spending an entire year doing theatre for a living, I cannot imagine a more luxurious life than this which includes both struggles and learning. Individually, I want to continue to do a lot of Kalari and train my body as much as possible. Dive deep into dance and music because it truly drives my soul, and I want to perform live using all of this, engaging as much with folk as contemporary, and travel and explore more art forms!
Another big goal which I’m excited about is getting to do my first play as the director and work with stories which aren’t part of the mainstream narrative. I am also thrilled to be working on the first day of 2023. Here’s to keeping the internal music going and being extraordinary at what you do or being a revolutionary or both!”
Parul Rana (Actor, Theatre-maker and recipient of the Mumbai Ekatra: Ladies Local grant) Batch 2021-22
“For the coming year, I am excited about the work everyone’s going to create and learn from it. I am looking forward to storytellers and theatre enthusiasts asking questions and telling stories that matter.
On the personal front, me and my batch mate Samruddhi Deshpande are working on our project, Khoj, for which we received this year’s Mumbai Ekatra: Ladies Local grant.”
Freya Kothari (Cross form theatre practitioner, Actor) Batch 2020-21
“I am confused about what 2023 looks like for me and I realised that for the year to be different, some changes have to be made. I hope more innovative and diverse works get their due instead of the plays that are well-established and have well-known names attached to them.
I want to see more alternative ways of storytelling, mainly having access to immersive and interdisciplinary performances. A repository of sorts to update folks about shows, and to access information about these performances.
I also wish for all of us to acknowledge what we have been through in the last few years instead of going about business as usual and how that changes the choices we make today. Theatre doesn’t have to be a poor person’s medium and I want to create with material, technology, and websites instead of only consuming text-based work. The best thing about theatre is that it can be a marriage between all mediums and forms. I’d want to work more towards making that into reality.”
Archana Patel (Actor, Entrepreneur, Tree lover, Fighter to Save Aarey Forest, Mumbai) Batch 2013-14
“So, one gravity-defying thought/hope I have about leveraging theatre for theatre is the stage for cinema. I have been noticing how makers, post-pandemic, haven’t been able to get a sense of how and what stories would work to bring back their lost audience in cinemas. How
about they make plays to try and test their content first?! If they make a play, and their content lands well with the audience, they could consider making it into a film then. This will be a win-win for the makers, creators, and producers. It’ll generate so many work opportunities for so many people. Plus, the audience!!
It’s about disrupting how both these mediums create their content. Reimagining and reinventing the possibilities. This will also help break this notion of, ‘theatre mein paisa nahi milta’. In fact, by doing this we can safely say, ‘Theatre se paisa bachta hai and banta bhi hai’.”
Rohit Thapa (Actor, Writer, Theatre-maker and recipient of the Mumbai Ekatra: Ladies Local grant) Batch 2020-21
“I have been working with Participatory Theatre this year – a practice that involves actors performing for an active audience; their participation/perspective is essential in driving the play forward. It was an incredible experience working with like-minded folks and learning from everyone. I’d love to work more with it and explore it in the coming year.
Apart from that, I’m really looking forward to starting work on my project – Chalo Kehte Ha, for which I received the Kshirsagar Apte Foundation’s Mumbai Ekatra grant.”
Nandakumar G K (Actor, Writer, Drama Educator, Theatre-maker) Batch 2019-20
“In 2023, I’d like to work on mythological stories and bring them to life in a contemporary manner using devising techniques. I am also looking forward to making work on the socio-political realities of our country and working on ideas that are itching to be put on stage.
This year, I’d also like to do something that I have wanted to do for the longest time. Chai Aur Ek Kahaani – a space where I read plays and then we have discussions about them. I believe stories are hope and we get to experience that through these sessions.”
Vaishnavi R P (Actor, Director, Theatre-maker, Founder of Unheard Elephants) Batch 2015-16
“I was part of the jury for this year’s Thespo and I found a jarring lack of female-led projects and perspectives. Although established female playwrights and directors exist, I don’t see a lot of young female creators and performers taking part. It’s on us to create opportunities and make space for them to showcase their work. So, in 2023, I’d love to see more stories, written, directed and performed by women.
I believe that for this change to come forth, we as women have to take charge. That’s why I am very excited to start my theatre company again and create my work instead of waiting for work to come my way. I also hope that we never stop creating work and do so with love and warmth. No art can sustain without it.”
Trinetra Tiwari (Actor, Writer, Light Designer, Theatre-maker) Batch 2015-16
“In 2023, I want to experiment with different forms and mediums and tell stories from my perspective—Kahaani ko kahaani ki tarah pesh karna hai, apne nazriye se pesh karna hai. I’d also love to take up more acting work and earn much more!”
Kumar Abhimanyu (Actor, Writer, Theatre-maker) Batch 2021-22
“We are two weeks away from 2023, and I hope to find a lot of work. I don’t want to sit and wait for work but to keep on working wherever it is. I have been working with my peers from DSM on a performance piece. Other than that, I want to collaborate with new folks and start digging into my theatre and acting journey!
I’m also curious to see the works of my peers and folks I have come across in different cities.”
Aswin Varrier (Actor, Theatre-maker) Batch 2017-18
“It’s been an extremely rewarding journey until now. In 2023, I am hoping to be more active regarding watching more performances, putting myself out there and absorbing people’s works. Basically, try to be less judgemental about other people’s work before even watching or experiencing it. I also hope I take myself more seriously and yet less seriously at the same time. By that I mean, seriously enough to actually DO something, explore more, and create more and less seriously enough not to get caught up in anything for too long and get lost…
I also hope I go easy on myself and don’t choke the outlet of any creativity prematurely. To be honest, that’s all that has happened for all these years and it would be quite refreshing if, for once, I let myself take at least one activity to the finish line. See it through, regardless of whether it gets there in record time. Just. Complete. One. Thing. The hundreds of incomplete drafts on my computer would be so proud.”
Lauren Robinson (Actor, Drama Educator, Theatre-maker) Batch 2017-18
“I would like to watch and practice new and expansive forms of storytelling and bring theatre to folks who wouldn’t naturally be looking for it.”
Aaditya Rawat (Theatre-maker) Batch 2019-20
“I hope we get more patrons who will provide support to young theatre-makers to create work. Hopefully, younger folks find and make space to have dialogue within themselves and keep challenging themselves in terms of storytelling, questioning the medium, and having fun while at it.
I also really hope that theatre companies and us as theatre-makers work towards building safe spaces. Making the spaces accessible and safe for anyone who would like to access them and not taking the younger folks for granted should be something we all should work toward.”
Tanvi Lehr Sonigra (Actor, Writer, Theatre-maker) Batch 2017-18
“2022 has been an incredible year for me. I have worked on projects that I believe have helped in bringing queer narratives, not just in the indie film community but also to the mainstream with roles in ‘Lailaa Manju’ and ‘Girls’ Hostel S03’.
I also had a wonderful year with my short play, Nam-Myoho-Renge-Crow, and have received support and love for my work from the theatre fraternity.
In the coming year, I want to carry on with the momentum – focus on acting opportunities for the screen, keep writing for performance, sharpen my skills as a capoeirista, and explore more avenues as a queer performer.
I’m stepping into 2023 with a renewed zest for life. I hope to make it adventurous, rest it out when it gets hard, stay in touch with myself, and let things take shape. ‘Trust the process,’ I remind myself every day, ‘It’ll be what I want it to be’. Just can’t wait to see how it’ll all unravel.”
Rushab Kamdar (Actor, Writer, theatre-maker) Batch 2015-16
“Firstly, I am thrilled that theatre in Bombay has gotten back to how it was before Covid and I hope it will be the same this year.
Right now, I am excited about writing a play and I hope to complete it early next year. Also, it’s been a long time since I have been part of a Gujarati play and I have been wanting to collaborate with my friends from Ahmedabad. I hope I get to do it this year.
Overall, in 2023, my priority would be to do more text-based work, collaborate with more people and bring ideas to life (on stage).”
Sagar Bhoir (Actor, Clown, Drama Educator, Theatre-Maker) 2015-16
“I have been working with Clowns Without Borders for some time now, performing for sex workers, helping children tell their stories and equipping them with the confidence to speak up. Students belonging to a lower socio-economic landscape find it harder to assimilate with other kids and tend to withdraw from participating. Working with these kids through theatre games and other tools has helped them open up and enjoy themselves.
My goal for this year is to work with students who are going to enroll in colleges, leaving their village behind. These are the kids who need the most help to transition to a new space and ways of the city. The students I have facilitated have taught their juniors and helped them build confidence. I think this is something that will be passed on with or without my presence. That brings me joy.”
Koyel Sahoo (Actor, Director, Theatre-maker) Batch 2019-20
“2022 has been a year of witnessing and working towards recovery from the consequences of Covid and to realise that recovery takes time and it is different for different people.
I feel a lot of the work that theatre makers create is mostly consumed by the community itself. It rarely reaches people beyond us. I hope we as a community learn to market our shows better even though acquiring funding is very tricky.
I feel in theatre the amount of work we put in versus what we get paid or the amount of income we can generate through the work is highly imbalanced. It is an ongoing problem which is here to stay, perhaps. I hope we get paid better, because it takes a lot to put up a show.
Performing and creating makes me happy, so I am excited to do more of that in the coming year.”
Vibhanshu Doshi (Actor, Writer, Theatre-maker, Spoken word artist) Batch 2021-22
“For 2023, I hope we take more risks and not for the sake of taking risks. I hope to see more people coming in and supporting the theatre. My hope is, well, to be more hopeful.”
Mallika Shah (Actor, Playwright, Theatre-maker, Producer) Batch 2018-19
“In 2023 I’m excited about getting to do new roles, not indulging in self-doubt, sleeping a lot and staying calm, learning to sew, having fun and spending a lot of time watching theatre.”
Niketan Sharma (Actor, Writer, Theatre-maker, Founder Of NOW Productions) Batch 2014-15
“I will start with hope, as that’s the first step to every word, every dream, and every beginning. I hope 2023 will be a year of less hatred and a peaceful society.
I’m looking forward to different projects as an actor for the screen and want to write/work on a few ideas which have been brewing in my mind for the longest time.
I am also excited about devising a new performance. I want to travel and explore different cities through my work and otherwise.
A reflection I’d love to carry with me this year would be, not to be swayed by others and social media. Time is valuable and should be spent on what we want to do for our practice and ourselves. Also, there is power in togetherness and one should always hold on to that.”
Nitika Arora (Drama educator, Heritage Walks Curator) Batch 2015-16
“The idea that excites me and one I want to do for the coming year is how to make the heritage walks I conduct more performative. I tried dramatic reading as a performative element in my heritage tour, and it was very well received. So, I’m contemplating how to include more of this in my tours and what other elements of performance can be brought in to make this experience exciting and to bring monuments alive in my storytelling.
I am also working with children and young adults, and we use tools of ‘Process Drama’ to teach them skills. I am also experimenting with ‘Mantle of the Expert’ – an educational approach as a part of my pedagogy, and I’m quite excited and nervous about working with it in my drama classes.”
It takes immense courage to question oneself, change narratives and hold on to one’s truth. These folks have provided wonderful insights into their world of hope and love. We hope our alums’ words make your new day of the year exciting and hungry for some good theatre.