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Powered by youth

Wednesday, December 20, 2017
By Deepa Gahlot

It takes commitment and passion to keep an annual event going for 19 years, without support from sponsors – and it is a crying shame that the much-loved youth theatre festival does not have corporates lining up to back it. Still, over the years, 'Thespo' has introduced so much new talent to theatre, and inspired so many young people, that it has become a cultural milestone in the city… and country.

The festival and competition for under-25s was started by Quasar Thakore Padamsee, along with four friends – Arghya Lahiri, Chris Samuel, Nadir Khan and Toral Shah – to encourage youth theatre. Every year, the ideas and enthusiasm that the young participants bring to the festival is heart-warming. ('Thespo' also has year-long programs of readings, performances and workshops to keep the energy flowing.)

The 'Thespo' magic has spread to the cities, as the scouts travel to watch plays and select the finalists to perform at the festival and compete for the prizes. This year, youth groups from Delhi, Lucknow, Ahmednagar and Mumbai have made it to the finale ('Thespo 19' runs from December 18-24).
What’s significant is that, according to information provided 'Thespo 19' received registrations from 17 cities including Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Delhi, Guwahati, Kolkata, Nagpur, Islampur (Sangli), Udupi, Lucknow, Ahmednagar, Jaipur, Baroda, Gandhinagar, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Islamabad (Pakistan). The total number of registrations was 182, which includes 141 plays and 41 platform performances. Also, there were entries in multiple language – English, Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, Urdu, Awadhi, Bengali, Tamil, Malayalam, Hindustani, Haryanavi, Spanish, Kannada and Telugu.

It must have been quite a task to whittle down the list to four full-length plays for the competition and five for platform performances.

The subjects of the plays are, as always, varied and innovative. This year Vairangi’s 'Mrig-Trishna' is about a eunuch; Karooj Theatre Group’s 'Main Mera Baaja Aur Woh' from Lucknow is about a man who is enamoured by a voice on the radio; Nirmiti Rangmanch’s 'Khataara', from Ahmednagar, is about change and development coming to a village; and Actomers’s 'Trikonka Chautha Kon?' from Mumbai is about plagiarism.

Apart from the plays, there are music performances and workshops. Then, on the last day a theatre veteran is honoured with a Lifetime Achievement Award – this year it is Dr. Mohan Agashe.

The vibe at Prithvi Theatre where the week-long festival is held is charged with creativity and zest, and there is always the hope that at least some of these talented youngsters will pick performing arts as a career.

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