In a first, the magic of live theatre took a detour from the formal, conventional stage to Goan homes and other intimate spaces through the multidisciplinary Serendipity Arts Festival’s (SAF) ‘Serendipity Out and About’ programme this year.
Curated by Indian theatre veteran Quasar Thakore Padamsee, the pre-festival event took place recently, enabling audiences to experience a distinct form of theatre infused with warmth and informality.
“I think that opening the theatre space outside of the auditorium is extremely important, and that is one of the biggest opportunities that SAF offers. The performers also absolutely loved the chance to closely interact with the audience members who were incredibly receptive,” said Padamsee.
He also envisions the reoccurrence of the event in the coming years in more regional languages to be more inclusive.
Quasar Thakore Padamsee, Theatre Curator of Serendipity Arts Festival 2023
Padamsee stated that this initiative helped remove the “unseen barrier” that formal spaces inadvertently impose on the audience, making it “more accessible to people by converting spaces that are otherwise not used for art, further reinforcing the fact that art can happen everywhere!”
Hosted in eight venues, there were four plays with two performances each staged over two months touching on a variety of themes such as climate change, Broadway and Old Hollywood, Indian village life and finer nuances of a married woman’s life, all-in-all showcasing the pinnacles and pitfalls of the human experience.
Conceived as a satirical back-up plan to the authorities’ indifference towards climate change, Plan B/C/D/E, written and performed by Meghana AT, explores her methods to deal with the climate crisis and Play on Words is a tribute to the Broadway career of prolific writer P G Wodehouse by his step-great-grandson Hal Cazalet.
A slice of life in the form of three short stories from Bijnor village in Uttar Pradesh was brought to the stage in ‘Janpad Bijnor’, a production by Afsana Theatre and in the play, The Way I See It, renowned actress Divya Jagdale became the satirical embodiment of a married woman in her mid-40s navigating life’s ups and downs in her own way.
SAF scouted venues that offered the perfect atmosphere for each performance and received a warm reception. Musician and musical director Omar Loiola Pereira opened his house in Benaulim to host Play on Words and The Way I See It.
“I have been hosting home concerts for a long time in this space and was thrilled that SAF approached me to host these performances,” said Pereira.
Sumant Batra, a lawyer who runs the Indian Cinema Heritage Foundation on the island of Divar where the final performance of Serendipity Out and About was hosted, said that the initiative brought a different energy to theatrical performances and said that smaller events “enable intimate eye contact, more personalisation and engagement.”