22 practitioners from across the globe to explore innovative theatre pedagogy under the theme ‘Ecology and Theatre.
The Calicut University School of Drama and Fine Arts in Aranattukara, Thrissur, has transformed into a lively hub for theatre practitioners, pedagogues, and students from various parts of India and abroad. This vibrant atmosphere marks the commencement of the Second Edition of the International Festival of Theatre Schools (IFTS) on January 14.
The festival, organised by the School of Drama and lasting till January 19th, was inaugurated by Dr. R. Bindu, Minister for Higher Education and Social Justice, on Sunday evening at S. Ramanujam Studio Theatre at the School of Drama. Even the inaugural ceremony was designed to be in tune with the theme of this year’s IFTS, ‘Carnival of Pedagogy for Theatre and Ecology,’ with the Minister watering a potted plant placed on the stage from a terracota mug. This edition of IFTS has been designed focussing on the intersection of theatre and ecology.
The inaugural function, presided over by the Calicut University Vice Chancellor M.K.Jayaraj had Padmasi Cheruvayal Raman, the noted tribal farmer from Wayanad celebrated as the guardian of rare seeds, known for his zeal in preserving the rare seed varieties found in Wayanad as the chief guest. Having an indigenous environmental activist as the chief guest was a notable departure from the common trend of inviting high profile celebrities like film stars to add colour to such events. Dr. T.V. Sajeevan, Director of Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI), Peechi, Thrissur Corporation councillor Laly James, reputed theatre person Neelam Mansingh, School of Drama Director Dr. Abhilash Pillai and Head of Department Dr. Sreejith Remanan were present at the session.
Launching of ‘Y-Not,’ a new web App developed by the students of School of Drama, at a Winter Camp organised for the post-graduate students at the School of Drama in December led by the Goa-based theatre person Vishnu Barve, was another interesting event held after the inaugural ceremony. ‘Y-Not’ was launched by Subran, the gardener at the School of Drama. It is a dating app that allows you to date a tree in the campus ! You can download the App from Playstore, select a tree from the campus and get to know it in detail, and follow its growth!
Fourteen universities and educational institutions from different parts of India are participating in the IFTS. These institutions include Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan, University of Cape Town, The Aleksander Zelwerowicz National Academy of Dramatic Art in Warsaw, Madhya Pradesh School Of Drama, Raja Mansingh Tomar Music & Arts University, Theatre and Performance Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Carnegie Mellon University- School of Drama, University of Dhaka, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar University Delhi, Panjab University, Eastern University, Sri Lanka, University of Jaffna, Savitribai Phule Pune University, Bharatendu Natya Academy, Uttar Pradesh.
Students from different parts of India, speaking various languages are wandering in the sprawling tree-laden campus of the School of Drama, imbibing the discourses and cultural performances offered as part of the festival. The following pedagogues and theatre practitioners are leading the panel discussions and workshops. They include, Ruwanthie de Chickera (Sri Lanka), Richard Emmert (Japan), Jane Collins (UK), Dr. Sophie Jump (UK), Richard Allen (UK), Rodolfo García Vázquez (Brazil), Nicole Wolf (UK), Mojisola Adebayo Susanne (UK), 9. Niamh Dowling (UK), Dr. Sara Matchett (South Africa), Susan Tsu (USA), Marta Miloszewska, (Poland), Dr. Ishrafil Shaheen (Bangladesh), Katarzyna Renes (Poland), Elikem Kunutsor (Ghana / South Africa), Prof. B. Ananthakrishnan (India), Dr Neelam Mansingh Chowdhary (India), M K Raina (India), Vidya Rao (India), Maya Krishna Rao (India), Naripatta Raju (India), Shailaja Jala (India) and Sreeja Arangottukara (India).
The six day festival will comprise 16 workshops, Teachers Meet, Students Meet, Parliament of Ideas, Panel Discussions, Presentations by the students and cultural performances. A day-long visit to Kerala Kalamanadalam is also being held as part of the festival. Panel Discussions led by eminent scholars including Samik Bandopadhyay, Dr. Mohanan Kunnummel, VC, Kerala University, Sundar Sarukai, Ethiran Kathiravan and Dr. K.P.Mohanan are the highlights of the Festival. The participants are also getting an opportunity to watch the traditional and folk performances of Kerala including Padayani, Thirayattam and Tholppavakkoothu.
Apart from the students, selected local theatre practitioners are also attending the festival as delegates. Workshops on Acting, Body Work, Forum Theatre and Technology, Performance Making, Direction, Indigenous Acting, Lighting Design, Chutti, Chenda, Theyyam, Costume, Ecology and Body Practice, Performance and Archaeology and Performance Making will be held.
The IFTS is supported by Calicut University, Kerala Kalamandalam, Sher-Gil Sundaram Arts Foundation, Raza Foundation, Kerala State Higher Education Council, Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA), Japan Foundation, K.R. Narayanan National Institute of Visual Science and Arts, Kerala Forest Research Institute (KFRI), Peechi, Kiran Nadar Museum of Arts, Chethana Media, Bharathendu Natya Academy, Amba Dalmia Foundation, Kala Academy, Goa’s College of Theatre Arts and Isaf.
As part of the IFTS, four research scholars will be awarded one year long Fellowships for research in theatre. The scholarships are Rakesh Bharadwaj IFTS Fellowship at School of Drama and Isaf IFTS Fellowship at School of Drama.