Since Thespo 13 is all about Tera Mera, I thought I would list out acts of generosity that have happened at Thespo over the years. Please feel free to add to this list:
- Set Sharing
In 2000 My Funny Valentine (MFV) had blocked their furniture with a set-wallah. The morning of the performance, they turned up to the godown to discover that the set wallah had given the same furniture to a film shoot in spite of a prior booking because the money offered was better. In a panic the MFV gang tried to find a replacements. Suddenly they chanced upon the furniture one of the other plays, Cheaters, which was still lying around back stage. A few phone calls later the Cheaters gang were only too glad to help. A quick change of upholstery and 'voila' the MFV had chairs to sit on!
- Light it up!
It is no secret in theatre cricle that Argyha Lahiri is talented, and works for anyone or everyone who wants him. That explains why he is so overworked. But this is a carefully cultivated mentality that began many Thespos ago and continued through all his Thespo years. Arghya directed plays in 2000, 2001 and 2004. None of his plays won Outstanding Play. But almost every year he walked away with the Production Design Award, albeit for other plays. 2000 was for My Funny Valentine, , 2003 was for Trial, 2004 was for Sakharam Binder. When you are generous with your creativity, that is pure generosity.
- Patron Saint of ThespoTheatre is my religion, Thespo is it's festival and Dolly Thakore is it's patron saint! The first Thespo office was a 6ft x 4ft carpet in her drawing room. And while we tried to feed young creative minds, she ensured that our uncreative bellies were fed. When there were no budgets for sets, her drawing room would become the catalogue from where groups would pick up set elements. And the parties...who can forget the parties. A thing of Thespo folk lore now, since finally her society asked us to stop partying there, but how anyone could open up their home to so many 20 somethings and not complain at the cyclonic damage is quite unbelievable! Thespo is truly tera-tera.
- Danny of Decor
By the time Dhanendra arrived in Bombay he was already too old for Thespo, but that didn't stop him from diving in. First it was time, then man power and then whatever he had. Each year Danny loans Thespo elements from his other projects, be it materials, fabric, wiring or wood.
Some might argue that Natak Co. have been a regular feature at Thespo over the last few years. But before they knew what Thespo was they enthusiastically promoted it on campusses in Pune. In fact part of the domination of Pune teams has been through their efforts to proliferate the Thespo message among all and sundry. And the Pittie Hall where they formed now has a VERY special place in Thespo folklore as well.
- Spare Rooms
There are quite a few people who have opened up their homes over the years to the descending hordes that come to perform at the festival. Virendra Shah is chief among these, and his 'office' has been home to more theatrewallahs than we can count. Shweta Tripathi is another person who throws open her home at the drop of a hat. Home is where the heart is, and clearly "they heart Thespo".
- Sharing spaceIt was one of the most unique instances of generosity I have even seen. Ramu Ramanathan was a judge at Thespo 6 (2004) and was impressed with Chandan Roy Sanyal's Sakharam Binder Retold. So much so, that in a city where there is a paucity of dates for groups, he sacrificed his own two performances and gave them to Chandan. An unbelievable gesture, and more importantly it opened up the doors for Thespo plays to start having a life outside the festival.
This was not the big Tehelka festival that happened in Goa, but the initiative of a former volunteer at the festival Priyanshi, who decided in 2009 that it had been long enough that Thespo had no merchandise. So she took it upon her self to make quirky gits like candle stands, clocks, magnets, etc. for the winners and judges. The gifts were a big hit, and finally Thespo could brand things.
So Thespo was kind of lonely last year. It knew a lot of people, but didn't have really an friends. But then as the old saying goes, "A friend in need..." and suddenly friends appeared. Thespo 12 was completely supported by what we later learned was called 'Crowd Funding". It was quite a humbling moment. 120 people signed up in less than two weeks. Wow. The Friends of Thespo membership programme is still on, so if you are reading this and haven't signed up, please do. We really want to build the community, because that is where the love is.
- Stranger Kindness
We have never quite figured this one out. How is it that random people are so generous to Thespo. Sometimes it is through financial support, but most of the time it is through time and expertise. Dropping everything else to become a judge, or taking the time to sit with green horns to patiently take them through the simplest of tasks. to giving up sabbaticals to tour the country or watch a young troupe. The theatre fraternity truly seems to be a warm place to work...makes me glad I don't work in any other medium.