With the promise of an entertaining presentation ahead, Arundhati Raja’s presentation on theatre appreciation began with an interactive session. Taking the audience through a brief version of an actor’s warm up, she had the audience relaxed and laughing.
Touching upon script-based and street-theatre styles of performance, Arundhati spoke of different forms of theatre. Talking about the evolution of the art form through time, she discussed the transition from large “box-sets” and declamatory delivery to minimalist stage design and acting. Going back to the theory of stage performance, she explained how the Natyasastra outlines what is now the standard in theatre studies.
Beginning with input from the audience, Arundhati created a map of the elements that influence a performance. With a larger perspective laid out, she began with the different types of performance stages. Using the city’s many auditoriums as examples, Arundhati talked about the characteristics of each. She then spoke about stage lighting and illustrated the different moods projected by lighting from various angles. The importance of script-appropriate sets, costume and make up were also discussed through examples of popular plays that the audience responded to. Finally, Arundhati spoke about the myriad elements that go into staging a play and how the actor needs to take stock of all these to be able to present a performance of quality.
The audience interaction with Arundhati was lively, with several audience members referring to plays they had seen and querying certain elements that they had been unsure of. Young actors too were present and asked about the process of understanding characters they were playing and techniques they could use to improve their skills. In all, the evening of theatre appreciation was a success, with many members of the audience commenting on a renewed appreciation and deeper understanding of a stage performance.