This was our first engagement with this form and the experience was most refreshing! The aim of the workshop was to explore a performance form we are not familiar with; have fun playing together and discover something new about ourselves.
Here are some photographs and excerpts from reflective notes by the participants.
Almost a year and half ago I saw an object theatre play by Choiti Ghosh. That performance created a notion in my mind about what exactly object theatre is. I was not sure, but that performance had its own impact on me.
Now I can say what object theatre is and the notion is broken. Thanks to Gillo and Choiti. First of all the workshop was amazing, the entire process was brilliant. The first exercises really made me connect to the objects. Why do I like or dislike an object; it can have its own story. And how we use object can change its meaning, like the rearrangement of objects and then giving the arrangement a title. This brought my attention to the props we use in our play performances. Props help us create scenes and build characters, so how we use them can change the entire meaning.
Also saying words through objects, without speaking, is something that is really challenging. This needs a lot of training. I think in theatre why and how we do things is very important. We sometimes just say our lines and think that we have conveyed the meaning. But it is not always true and it was very clear through the fairy tale exercise with music.
As we all have played with toys in our childhood, we were able to relate with many objects. Object theatre can play very important part for the theatre for the young audience and TIE. It will be an interesting form to explore.
I have never performed or seen an object theatre play before. So it was a new experience for me. It is another form of puppetry for me. I as a child was never interested in crafts and stuff in which you use objects or make something. For me it’s one more style or form of expression on stage, for which one needs to have special interest in order to do justice to this form. I feel I don't have any special interest in the form, maybe because of some mental blocks. Need to do a lot of unlearning. All in all fun 2 days - Filled with creativity.
The object theatre workshop conducted by Choiti Ghosh was a real eye opener for me since I had a very one dimensional view regarding objects earlier. It helped me realize how objects could be used as more than just properties for enhancing a performance. Entire performances can be acted out using only objects. Also as an artiste it helped open up new avenues of expression for me since it is an art form where the object assumes as much importance as an artiste’s physical self. Secondly it will also help me handle props in other performances.
The fact that we acted out most of the performances without using dialogues also pushed us to move beyond spoken word as a means of expression. Choiti also made it clear that object theatre can be used with various other art forms which culminated in my final performance where I tried performing with objects to music and using movement. It was something which I maybe wouldn’t have attempted earlier. The activity where we had to title the images made by placing the various objects together helped me learn how different, seemingly random placement of objects can be perceived as a scene or even an entire story. It demonstrated the power of objects as a tool for expression. Objects help to express situations where the body or sets fail such as a man flying or maybe an airplane crash.
Although I feel there is a very thin, yet unclear line between puppetry and object theatre, the fact that we were able to learn a form we can use in further performances and which will help us as theatre artistes was very delightful.
The Object Theatre Workshop was an insightful experience. By the end of the workshop, I was both excited and surprised. Surprised because I was amazed by how ordinary objects can be such potent tools of storytelling and excited because I wanted to tell a story right away using objects. The workshop was great and it touched upon a lot of interesting points for me.
The experience started with the first activity; selection of 3 favourite objects. The first object I picked was the spring balance! Studying Physics has been a phenomenal experience for me and it holds a very important place in my life. It will always be part of my identity and that fact was brought out by how quickly I identified with the spring balance. The ‘Give a Title’ exercise was interesting. Just the simple order of the objects gives a certain meaning to a frame. And any change in it would change the meaning altogether. It was also interesting to notice the grouping of objects. The grouping added a curious flavour to the arrangement. That has made a solid impression on my mind.
Then came the exercise where we were to move only our hands to the music. For me tuning in to the rhythm wasn’t the problem but concentrating on and isolating just one was. Sensing the movement of the others was tough. This exercise left me feeling happy. I do not know why. May be it was the feedback, may be. The next exercise of using one hand to hold an object and the other free hand as a tool to narrate a fairy tale was good. It brought to light how certain objects are an identity of an entire story! Another mental note moment happened here.
The exercise on the 2nd day was phenomenal! That memory is one of the most important and pleasant memories for me. And because of that, the exercise didn’t do anything more than trigger a wonderful flashback, until the time the feedback came. Till then I was truly lost and was under the impression that I ended up simply miming. But the audience saw something totally different and that really hit me. The feedback was a real eye-opener too!
By the end of the workshop I was amazed, thrilled, excited and eager! I was excited and eager to use this new insight for telling a story. Amazed by how these inanimate things could trigger such emotions in me. I think we form a relationship with each and every ‘thing’ that we interact with. It is like the String theory where each of these interactions adds a new frequency to our individual fundamental frequency, our spiritual rhythm. And that’s where this workshop resonated for me!
I have come to realise that just like a picture, an aesthetically placed object is worth thousand words.
After attending the workshop I have consciously started noticing how objects play an equally important role in the process of storytelling along with the text and the performers. Objects unlike the other tools of storytelling have the ability to open up a wide range of interpretations for the audience based on their personal associations with those objects. Also with the placement of those objects the audience is able to relate to the world of the storyteller and see where he or she is coming from.
One of the most important lesson I picked up was from the informal chat we had in the kitchen! Choti said “You have a story to tell. Now you have to ask yourself- ‘What’s the best way to tell it?’ If it’s best told through words - use words. If not, employ other tools. You have to ask yourself -What is it that an object or puppet can say, that you cannot?” It’s one of the most important lessons I took home with me that day.
Also choosing one object and endowing it with personal memories was a wonderful exercise. I chose a watch for this exercise and it reconnected me with the memory of my late Nanaji who gifted me a similar looking wrist watch when I was very young.
It was amazing working with all the objects and telling a story with them, as just like working with masks and toys, it helps you reconnect with your inner child. You can easily let go the fear of being judged for your performance because there is someone else doing that job for you.
Overall the workshop was good fun and a big learning experience for us as actors and I look forward to using all the learning in my performance.
I remember a performance by Choiti on Rapunzel, using shoes and shoe boxes at the Summertime Mela in 2011. Since then I wanted to experience doing something like that and we got 2 days of it! The workshop really opened up my mind to try and interpret things differently. Also, I realised that giving life to a non-living object becomes very easy once you yourself believe it has life. It takes no time for your viewers to believe it’s alive. It is all about imagination. Now I want to build up an Object Theatre performance with Choiti.