The Aditya Birla Group’s vision to provide a series of curated productions, Aadyam, has been ongoing for over two seasons in Mumbai and Delhi, beginning in 2015. Aadyam promised to be a holistic experience for both theatre connoisseurs and for the rookie who wants to explore theatre. Five theatre groups were finalised to present nine shows each of five new productions which were received well by audiences in both the metropolises.
In India, the plethora of ethnic identities have often found an outlet through the medium of theatre in myriad and dynamic ways. However, there has always been an air of elitism surrounding English theatre, which is a sort of perceived snobbery and there is also the oft criticised element of derision towards regional massy theatre which is said to be lacking in finesse.
The first two editions of Aadyam, had some great musicals and hits like Twelve Angry Jurors, Ladies Sangeet and Loretta. The festival, in its first two editions, has tried to go beyond the defined spaces of stage by exploring new genres. Further, they also offered an experiential dining experience for its audiences with the Aadayam Spotlight Dine Out experience. A programme that allowed members to download their personalized card which gave them discounts as well as curated menu’s to affiliated restaurants throughout the year.
The Aadyam events this year are stretched out across a period of over eight months i.e. from the 19th of August to the 10th of December 2017 and has a total of seven plays with over sixty-five shows. The first play on offer is Quasar Thakore Padamsee’s, “Mother Courage and Her Children“, which is a biting satirical play about survival, entrepreneurship and the absurdity of war. It is the story of a mother who runs a canteen, her three children and their journey in a cruel world.
Another play, “Under the Gypsy Moon”, is an adaptation of the novel ‘Srikanta’ written by Bengali writer Sarat Chandra and directed by Akash Khurana. It will be performed by Bombay’s award winning theatre group, AKVarious Productions. The protagonist in the play, Srikanta, lives the life of a nomad who doesn’t want to be tied down by relationships and believes every new experience to be enriching. He is in constant search of the true meaning of life. As fate would have it, he encounters two women that are diametrically opposite to one another but with one unifying factor, they believe in him and take him to be their saviour.
The final offering that has been declared is the play, “3 Penny Opera”, which is produced by Motley, a Naseeruddin Shah and Benjamin Gilani founded group. The play is a crazy ride that takes us through the world of thieves, prostitutes, beggars, back alleys, and two timing characters. The story revolves around the life of Mr. Peachum who is a manufacturer of outfits and fake props for fake beggars in a poor part of the city. He is astonished to learn that his daughter Polly Peachum has fallen in love with Macheath, a charming bandit. She gets married to him and that leads Mr. & Mrs. Peachum in a desperate effort to put Macheath in jail and get back their beloved daughter. The play is an inherently funny slice of life take on their lives.
This year Aadyam will introduce a new format to its repertoire called the ‘Black Box’, which is a bare room with walls and a flat floor. The audience would be lounging on the floor and would watch the actors perform up close. This recent innovation will be seen in two of Aadyam’s productions, “Guards at the Taj” and “Gajab Kahani.”
All in all, Aadyam, promises to be an evocative, nostalgia inducing, bigger and more exciting production than before. What remains to be seen is the growth of the community it is trying to build and its uncompromising approach to quality, scale and crafting memories for audiences.