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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Circus weds drama


Above and below — Scenes from the show in Kozhikode by the NSD team

from: deccanchronicle.com

December 19, 2011

By Kevin Kishore/ DC/ Kochi

For the last three days, those who went to see the Grand Circus at the tent opposite Kozhikode beach were in for a surprise.
Once the regular show was over, they watched a new art form, an amalgamation of circus and drama, performed by 26 students of Delhi’s National School of Drama.
Not many among the audience realised that it was the first time such a show was being staged anywhere in the country.
“Such experiments are happening in other parts of the world. Sadly, in India, we had never explored the possibility of combining theatre and circus,” says Abhilash Pillai, assistant professor of NSD, the brain behind the inititative. The three-day performance came at the end of a 40-day camp that saw NSD artistes working closely with the circus artistes for 40 days.
Abhilash had been toying with the idea of combining circus and drama for a few years and had approached many a circus owner in the country but nobody had time for such experiments except the owners of the Grand Circus in Kozhikode, which has a long tradition of circus.
“The demand came from the students themselves. Bored of doing the same kind of projects every year, the students wanted a new platform where they can experiment and learn something new,” says Abhilash Pillai.
“The students lived with the circus artistes in a bid to learn not only their techniques but also understand their way of life. While we focused on teaching them certain technical aspects and acting, the students learnt several circus skills,” says Abhilash.
“I was never so close to a circus camp. I now understand how difficult it is to be a circus artiste,” says NSD student Bandana Rawat.
“The adventures that the circus artistes do are something we have to respect. Considering their poor living conditions, something must be done to promote the art form rather than stifling it with stringent laws,” she says.
Says Amita Sharma, another student, “Though it was a bit frightening and risky, it was great fun learning something new.
In fact, Amita had suffered bruises on her body. “The daily routine of gymnastics and acrobatics has tired me physically but not mentally. Working with these people was really awesome.” The NSD team plans to organise a show in New Delhi soon.

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