Object Theatre Company

Tram Theatre is possibly India’s first and only Object Theatre Company writes CHOITI GHOSH

Theatre practitioners, have been crying aloud the lack of infrastructural or any kind of support for practicing theatre in India for many years now.

Over the last few years, the realisation has really hit home to us to think – that we have to create our own foundations, support systems and avenues.

It is with this idea that so many theatre artistes have started building their own workspaces and workshops wherein to create their works.

Spaces in which to perform our plays are few, and mostly inadequate in one way or the other. Too expensive, or ill-maintained or pose a struggle to draw in sufficient audiences vis-a-vis the rentals. The theatres that are success stories remain overbooked and pressed for dates.

But all of this is common knowledge!

What is new is that, many experimental theatre groups have been searching and digging out alternative spaces for performance to meet this dire need. Art galleries, exhibition halls, multi-purpose halls, schools, terraces, living rooms, building compounds, clubhouses etc.

The Company Theatre, QTP, Gillo, FAT Productions, us at Tram Theatre…and I’m sure there are many more that I don’t know about.

The idea is not just to do one-off shows, but to develop a relationship with the venue and cultivate it as a space that theatre audiences can frequent. The financial risks and the risk of playing to slim/empty houses remain, but it is ok for now, as we look at it as a long-term investment.

AVE 2 & Temperance are spaces that some have performed at and they are keen to regularise theatre there. The model is a simple one of cost-sharing, hence also risk-sharing between the group and the venue.

Tram Theatre is possibly India’s first and only Object Theatre Company. Born in Europe, Object Theatre is the art of using ordinary objects and materials from our daily lives in the theatre to tell stories. Apart from human actors, an Object Theatre play can easily star a broom, a bucket, a bowl, spoons, shirts, shoes, vegetables, detergents, toys and all other sundry items from our homes. Not as mere props, but as protagonists!

Tram’s previous work includes ‘Nostos’, an adaptation of Homer’s Odyssey told with objects and paper sculptures; ‘A Bird’s Eye View’, a solo performance with objects, toys and children’s paintings; numerous short pieces like ‘On the Clothes Line’, ‘Genteel’, ‘Rapunzel’, ‘Wizard of Oz in Short’

Tram Theatre now brings to you their third major production – ‘Alice in Wonderland’. Ordinary found objects like stainless steel bowls and spoons, a packet of masoor dal, ice trays, clothes, children’s shoes, toys, an aquarium, sponges etc. have been used to tell Lewis Carroll’s classic tale of a girl who wanders off from a ‘boring hot day’ into a fantastic wonderland. Tram’s version takes the story out of Carroll’s Victorian England and places it in the ‘here and now’.

The story runs as such: Bored and exhausted with their routine, fast‐paced lives, four people decide to make a short getaway into a world of their own make-belief. They use Lewis Carroll’s novel as a base to transform themselves and everything from their unremarkable lives into a world of pure fantasy and nonsense; to return in the end changed forever by imagination. We realise that Alice is everyone – capable of fantasy and imagination.

Along with objects, Tram Theatre’s Alice in Wonderland also uses puppetry, shadow theatre and live music to tell their story. It premiered at the NCPA Summer Fiesta in May 2013 to a full house of adults and children both.

The play stars Rachel D’Souza, Rakhi Prasad, Suraj Tomer & Vikas Baid. Script written by Ruma Ghosh; original music score is by Ronkini Gupta and songs have been written by Ronkini Gupta, Ruma Ghosh & Rachel D’Souza. Lights have been designed and executed by Sananda Mukhopadhyay

Bored and exhausted with their routine, fast-paced lives, four people decide to make a short getaway into a world of their own make-belief. Using Lewis Carroll’s novel as a base, the performers transform themselves and the objects around them into a world of pure fantasy and nonsense; to return in the end changed forever by imagination.

This play is our effort to take a flight of imagination, to re-understand our lives and our surroundings and look at everything anew through the eyes of infinite possibilities. And we present before you our explorations.

A deeply, hilarious comedy about discovering our own wonderlands!

For this to work out successfully in the long run, theatre companies have to work collectively and not individually. So what we are doing now is trying to pass on the information to other companies, share the spaces that we each individually find and work out a system by which these spaces can be nurtured by all of us together. 

Choiti Ghosh is an objecteur and puppeteer, who returned from her Object Theatre training at Institut International de la Marionnette in Charleville Mezeieres, France in 2010 to form Tram Theatre and make Object Theatre her vocation.