4 Corners - My First Thespo

“What is Thespo?” At the beginning of my stay in Bombay, this question would have left me utterly confused. “I…don’t…know,” I probably would have stammered. To me, Thespo was this ‘theatre thing’—I knew about it because I knew someone, who knew someone else, who knew QTP, who ran Thespo. I quickly realized that as the resident firang of the QTP office, I had a lot to learn. No, Thespo is not a ‘thing.’ It is one of the most empowering youth theatre festivals in India. And no, theatre in India is not different from theatre in America. It’s just as crazy, just as much work, and just as much fun.

I still feel, even while writing this, the same unceasing pulse of electric energy that I felt at the first Thespo volunteer meeting I attended in October. This is the feeling that defines Thespo.  No matter what time of the day I walk into the office, it is buzzing with excitement and activity.  It’s always moving; always changing; always alive. The burst of inspiration that my first Thespo has given me is one that I cannot wait to share with the theatre-loving youth of India. 

- Anjali Mehta

My first Thespo was Thespo 7 in 2005. (No wait, that can’t be right, I have only one more Thespo to go? Grrrmmphtt! ). I was managing production for Anshuman Jha’s  Mr.Kolpert. And I was handling lights for the show too.

So, it was my first Thespo, first time ever working on a play, first time on lights and first time in Bangalore! How I miss Thespo at Bangalore.  Bangalore is blissfully beautiful in December and RangaShankara is the place to be. For a first timer like me, being in theatre space like the RangaShankara, being in a different city, meeting people who share the same sentiment and enthusiasm for theatre was all too unreal!

Working on the play, almost single handedly was the best induction into theatre I could have asked for. From sitting in on rehearsals, making rounds to Crawford market, managing lists, learning how to prompt actors, managing a budget, getting the best deal for printing posters, transporting a 6 feet trunk to Bangalore and back, buying beer before show, emptying the beer cans and replacing it with water for show (no comments of what happened to the beer), to setting up stage, ordering pizza for the show, setting up the green rooms, watching and making notes while the tech set up, running a tech run to running a show. And running a show is where I found myself. Sitting all nerves at that light desk, watching a play come alive…I wanted more of that.

It was our show in Bombay, when it became clearer to me that I must do more of all of this. I saw Q, T and a whole bunch of QTP seniors at work none stop at the Experimental. It was most inspiring. It was also our show in Bombay, when it became clearer to me that lighting is what I had to do, more much more!  I watched Arghya focus lights. (Nuff said!) He was uber helpful, he set up the show for me, explained each light and its function in a manner that I understood. It was all very magical, the lights, Arghya talking about lights was / is equally magical of course.

So then came operating the lights. Now I still didn’t know who Arghya was, so once we marked the board and were good to go for show he asked me “Would you want me to stay with you through the show?” to which I promptly said “No,I am good!” Arghya said “Right, well then, I am going to be here, if you need me”. Show went off smoothly, I had a slow fade out at the end of the play (a slow fade is actually philosophy/ a way life really, I learned  this later )

I managed my ‘slow fade out’ well, Arghya patted me on the back at said “nicely done”.
I was very happy. Then I met Q on my way out from the tech room he patted me on my back at said “2 seconds too long”. I was still very happy. 

I was now one Thespo , one play and two shows old. From here on I went onto to do many more Thespos and much more theatre. Some of the people I met and worked with on my first Thespo, I still work with. Some I met years later working in the theatre in different capacities, now with specialized focus areas, some as actors, directors others as designers.

You’re part of movement when you’re part of Thespo. You go back to Thespo, to watch a play or be part of a workshop and you get that feeling, I can’t describe it, it’s a feeling, you need to feel it. 

You need to do it. Thespo!

- Sananda Mukhopadhyaya


Four years back, when I had just shifted to Bombay and was itching to do something that would keep the artist in me happy, I was introduced to the world of Thespo. What started off as a youth theatre festival, ended up changing my life.

In 2008. Rukawat ke liye Khed hai was the play that we were putting up for the screening. It was a cast of 14! And most of us had day jobs.  We use to run for rehearsals as soon as we finished our jobs. The play didn’t make it to the final four but the screening was like a performance. And we thought we had done a brilliant job. 

And then, there was the feedback session. And just like that, with a their pen nibs, they burst our bubble. They ripped us apart and I loved it! All their points made soo much sense and really helped us get better.

We started our own theatre company and participating each year became like a ritual. It is something that we knew we had to do. 

This is my last Thespo and one thing that I have become an expert in these 4 years (thanks to those feedback sessions) is- what not to do in your plays. 

And finally after all those years of learning, rehearsing, volunteering and hosting, it given me immense pleasure to introduce our play ‘Cock’- standing tall for Thespo this December.

- Shweta Tripathi