About the Group :
For the last five years ANANT has carried forth with the mission
- 'In theatre we come together, and together we celebrate'.
We have stressed particularly the necessity for togetherness -
of artists & audience, of all theatre lovers across India,
of society & theatre, of the human with the ideal.
ANANT, was registered
in 1989 and sprang into activity in the very first year of its
existence. From the beginning, we made an effort to analyze
or question why humankind needs dramatic play. It was the given
and the raison d’être for our movement. It
is strange how we take drama for granted from early childhood.
Why do children play drama on their own? What sort of 'play' appeals
to children and to people in general? And why? Our premise
was the nascent and natural instinct for the imaginative in 'the
child' and in 'the folk'. This is reflected in the full
form of ANANT (An Association for Nascent Art and Natural
Theatre). At the core, it was a search for universal
theatre. Consequently a direction was sought in children's
theatre and in the culture friendly traditions of theatrical performance,
keeping imagination as the most vital and intregal force among
the various human faculties.
For about ten years,
while ANANT took time to mature, I continued my work at various
places with children at National Bal Bhavan, Sahitya Kala Parishad,
Sahmat, and in schools and colleges, both in and out of Delhi.
By 1998, some of my students who had grown into adulthood decided
to regenerate ANANT. There has been no looking back since then.
The young members are immersed constantly in their on-job training
through ANANT's own activities. These include children's theatre
workshops, making plays with children and young people, conducting
school projects, undergoing training sessions conducted by some
reputed professionals, and last but not the least, producing and
acting in plays, both for children and the general public. ANANT
has staged its plays over the last five years in Delhi and whole
and events, with all their struggles and their joy, have charted
for ANANT a course, which has emerged as unique. We have
found that real children's theatre is universal in appeal, reaching
out to 'the child' in all of us, and not only to the biological
child. We have known that this 'child' in us seeks a secure space
to come out in the open, transcending the barriers created by
the ‘adult' world. Here there is no sermonizing,
no patronizing, no moralizing, and no values to be imposed, but
just the play in a spirit of celebration, fun, and spontaneity
while reflecting on the world around us. But, what is the cause
for celebration? Our answer that has emerged is : “a
celebration of the release of the essential child into the open”.
One of our regular viewers comments - " Yes, indeed
an ANANT play ", which point to this distinctive
celebratory element as an integral part of our identity.
Our work, in its
process, has been extended to pedagogy and learning. This has
come by way of workshop with teachers, school projects, curriculum
exercise, linking subject areas with performance, and work with
children in classroom situations. There is need for more work
and study, documentation and theorization. The possibilities are
enormous. Our approach is not to treat dramatics, at least in
the elementary stage, as a separate subject but to equip every
teacher to use its elements in classroom transactions. Clearly,
the insight yielded by experience, need to be grounded now in
a framework that will extend more widely in the academic community.
Another area where
we have worked in the last five years is dramatics in
relation to special education - with the mental handicap.
The short-term workshops and playmaking was so successful in these
years that an 'in-curriculum' exercise was initiated by ANANT
at the invitation of the Society for Child Development for its
students at Prabhat, a school in Delhi for children with learning
As we worked in these
areas, we were witness to the amazing transformative quality of
the theatre. We saw that it works by way of capacity enhancement,
personality change, by helping all of us to be better learners,
to enjoy, and thus by transforming our surroundings and ourselves.
Now is the time for consolidation.
Performances : The
plays forming part of ANANT's repertory are -
1. Garbadjhala: entirely based on rhymes and
played by children, this is the only play of its genre performed
in many theatre event and festivals. Conceptualised and directed
by Ashish Ghosh.
2. Raja Ki Khoj: Written in Bengali and directed
by Ashish Ghosh, this verse play based on Panchatantra tales,
was translated into Hindi by Safdar Hashmi. Performed by adult
actors in kathavachak style, this play, together with Gadbadjhala,
remains popular over the years.
3. Kisse: Created by adult actors in workshops
and directed by Ashish Ghosh, this play uses story-telling traditions
of several varieties in a unique way, using puppets.
4. Patrashuddhi: Written by Hari Madhav Mukhopadhyaya
in Bengali and translated into Hindi and directed by Maneesh Manoja,
this simple play lovingly tells the story of a village housewife's
empowerment through literacy.
5. Mut-a-Shayar: Written by Clifford Bax, and
translated by Maneesh Manoja, this play in shayari format is a
hilarious comedy on sham poets. Directed by Ashish Ghosh.
6. Dekha-Andekha: Translated from Bertolt Brecht's
"The Exception and the Rule" by Ashok Lal and directed
by him, this play was staged at Bharat Rang Mahotsav in 2003,
7. Daon Pench: Evolved in children's theatre
workshop and directed by Ashish Ghosh, this remains one of the
most loving reflections on children's own world.
8. Kathokatay Agomani (Bengali): Acclaimed as
a major contribution, this solo performance by Ashish Ghosh combines
two almost extinct traditions of kathokata and agomani to create
an universal language for theatre. It has been performed over
60 times in theatre events and festivans all over India - a unique
feat by a Bengali living in New Delhi.
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