Published: 03rd August 2020
Why WeMove Theatre's eight-month acting course Navarasa could bring out the actor in you
Interested in acting and daydreaming about becoming a famous theatre artist or film star? Then, grab the opportunity and study this course offered by Bengaluru's WeMove Theatre
Theatre for students must be more practical and less theoretical, believes Abhishek Iyengar, founder of the Bengaluru-based theatre group WeMove Theatre. And that's why they decided to collaborate with Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in Bengaluru to offer a new course called Navarasa — an eight-month-long comprehensive acting diploma course for students interested in taking up acting formally and learning the nuances of theatre. Abhishek, who has been into theatre and direction for almost 14 years now, says, "I come from an engineering background and worked in the corporate sector for many years before I shifted full time into direction, writing and theatre. My friend, Rangaraj Bhatracharya and I started WeMove Theatre in 2006. Back when we wanted to formally learn acting and theatre skills, there was no formal training or classes per se. Then, theatre groups were usually closed groups and there were no institutions but for two — Ninasam in Shimoga and the National School of Drama. Hence, whatever we learnt was by observing others and through our experiences. This is what led us to start this new course for youngsters."
While the Navarasa diploma course was supposed to begin in the first week of August, now they are unsure of starting practical classes offline. Abhishek says, "We designed this course's structure in March 2020 but we did not expect the COVID situation to rise to this extent. If the situation persists, then we will complete our theory classes online and, depending on the situation, shift to practical classes later on. The course involves learning improvisation, movement, basics of expression, emotions, voice modulation and different styles of acting, including the physical method of acting that came from famous Indian theatre artists like Maya Krishna Rao and Veenapani Chawla. We have imbibed all these aspects in our course." He adds that as they want to pay attention to each one of the participants to help them hone their skills, they have applied a limit on the number of students they will be taking up per batch — 25 students. And how do they plan on evaluating the students at the end of the course? Abhishek explains, "It is purely on the basis of performance, there are no exams in particular. We want our students to experiment with various plays, forms of acting and so on, and put up as many plays as they can. It can be on the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan's stage or anywhere in Bengaluru. We will make it a point to recognise and evaluate them on various aspects, like acting, writing, direction etc." Students can register for the course on bhavankarnataka.com.
Now that we've told you all about the course that will be conducted on weekends, it's time to learn a little something about Abhishek and his theatrical journey. In 2017, Abhishek applied to study Physical Theatre Intensive at Double Edge Theatre in Massachusetts, USA. Abhishek explains, "I got a scholarship to study there and that was the first time that I got to study theatre formally. After returning to India, I taught the US form of theatre and nuances to my team, it was an added advantage for us. After that, some of our plays and directions were recognised on national as well as international stages." True to what Abhishek says, he has written and directed six major stage productions — Namma Metro, Magadi Days, E=mc2, Ondu Second, Anaavarana and Sambhandagala Sutta — that have been staged across India and the United States. Among all his plays, Magadi Days has been performed several times in Indian theatres and also at the Mission City Center for Performing Arts in California in 2017. This play is a political satire based on the political consequences that arise when laws and rules are unceremoniously changed in Magadi town located near Bengaluru. It was inspired by popular British sitcom Yes Minister. "I felt that the common man could easily connect to the characters and the storyline of this play," says Abhishek who has won several awards and accolades for his work.