Saturday, September 13, 2014

Taoos Chaman Ki Myna - Karnataka Tour 2014

For Bangalore show:
Date: Wed 8th Oct 2014
Time: 6.30pm
Venue: ADA Rangamandira
Address: JC Road, opp Ravindra Kalakshetra, Bangalore

Ticket booking:

Telebooking call now at 39895050

At venue from 4th Oct (Ph: 7406464356)

For groups bookings (minimum 20 seats) please email us at

Monday, August 11, 2014


Gillo Theatre Repertory's

A  year-round performing arts club for children between 7 and 12 years. Starts in Sept 2014.
Conducted by Mumbai's only company dedicated to Theatre for Young Audiences.

For further info please visit

Bright Sparks - Centre for Creative Learning
11 & 12, Shah and Nahar Industrial Estate
Dr E Moses Road, Worli (Near Furniturewala)
Mumbai - 400018
Ph: 9820346210
Office is open from 10am to 6pm (Sundays closed) 

Registration dates:
Registration starts on 7th August 2014.
Last date to register is 7th Sept 2014. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Workshops - Summer 2014

Theatre and Arts workshops for Summer 2014



Conducted by Sahil Gangurde

Age group: 8+ years
Language: English
About the workshop: Adventure time, as the name suggests, is all about using our imagination to explore different ages of time, different places, meeting some interesting characters, solving mysteries and coming back with a lot of stories to tell. It combines imagination, storytelling, ensemble work, physical theatre and many such techniques to create scenarios. But that’s all secondary; the most important thing it promises is a whole lot of fun and many adventures.


Conducted by Sahil Gangurde

Age group: 5 to 8 years
Language: English
About the workshop: The workshop is aimed at enhancing creative thinking and encouraging free use of the body. It combines concepts from mime, movement, story creation and rhythm work for creation of drama. The activities also bring out a sense of group work and creating together.

About the conductor: Sahil Gangurde is a theatre actor and drama instructor. He is currently a part of Gillo Theatre Repertory as a performer. He facilitates creative drama workshops for children and has been a part of the Theatre Professionals Drama in school team for the year 2013-14. He has also been assisting in directing school plays and street plays.


Conducted by Prasad Dagare

Age group: 5 to 8 years
Language: English, Hindi
About the workshop: Hello, brave caretakers! This is a call to all the bright and young Dragon Riders. We have organised an initiation program for young Riders to learn how to play with, take care of and bond with the most graceful, magical and intelligent of all creatures. We will explore their physiology, their habits, their habitats and the rituals that are followed around the world.
Note to caretakers: Your young Rider will undergo a rigorous training through the use of theatrical activities and games in mime, body-work and rhythm!
About the conductor: Prasad is a physics graduate with a rich 6-year experience in designing educational content for the K-12 segment in India, UK and US as an Instructional Designer. Now, he works in schools trying to use Drama to enrich the learning experience of the children. He is associated with Gillo Theatre Repertory as an artist and a workshop conductor.


From performance to stories

Conducted by Manoj Karki

Age group: 10 to 12 years
Language: English, Hindi
About the workshop: It is in silence where lie most of the stories...
Just think how an image or a gesture can spark a thought or a word and how many simple images can be turned into a story. Or how about giving shapes to your body to tell a story. In this picture story workshop we shall explore how our body can express thoughts and emotions. Creating and analysing images, building gestures using masks, playing with words through mime and more. Finally we shall bring all this together and create a picture story.
About the conductor: Manoj K Karki has trained at Barry John’s Imago Acting School and worked with groups like Jana Natya Manch, Act One Art Group and Imago Theatre Group, all in New Delhi. Over the past 12 years he has worked as a drama teacher with schools in Delhi, Jaipur and Mumbai, and also at Miranda House, Delhi. Manoj is currently an artist in Gillo Theatre Repertory and also a drama teacher at Udayachal High School, Mumbai.


A sound and rhythm workshop

Conducted by Hetal Varia

Age group: 8 to 11 years
Language: English, Hindi
About the workshop: Every day we hear a range of sounds and voices around us. Are these just noises or is there something more? Cling, clang, bang is a sound and rhythm workshop specially designed to sensitise children to sounds and voices around them, as well as music and rhythm as layers to these sounds. This will be a process-oriented workshop with a focus on exploration and discovery.
Activities will include devising soundscapes with objects from day-to-day life, body percussions, vocals and storytelling through sounds. Theatre games, music elevations, mime and movement shall be used to explore different facets of sounds and rhythm.
About the conductor: Hetal Varia is intensely passionate about music and has been working with Gillo since 2009 as a performer and music composer.  “My experience of performing for and working with children on music, sound, voice and rhythm has given me the opportunity to explore music and sounds in completely different and fascinating ways. It is thrilling to share these experiences with young minds because they take it to a different level of excitement and creativity. I believe it is close to ideal when teaching-learning happen through interactions and playful exchanges.”


Conducted by Shaili Sathyu

Age group: 5 to 7 years
Language: English, Hindi
About the workshop: Lights! Curtain! Shadow! Making shadows with our body and also with objects and puppets. Come create your own shapes and stories and unleash your imagination. The workshop will explore the science behind shadows and the visual drama they help us create.
The focus shall be on providing a new experience to the children, stimulating their curiosity and giving opportunities for self expression.

Conducted by Shaili Sathyu
Age group: 7 to 10 years
Language: English, Hindi
About the workshop: Come explore the world of poetry that brings alive the most mundane through nonsense. Peek into and become a part of some wonderful poetry in Hindi and English, written by some of India’s most loved writers. Did we say become a part of? Yes, of course. Come, join us and find out how!

About the conductor: Shaili Sathyu works in education and the arts, with a specific focus on children. She is the Artistic Director of Gillo Theatre Repertory, a company that she founded exclusively for Theatre for Young Audiences.  She has written and directed six plays for children, including Suar Chala Space Ko and Kyun-Kyun Ladki. She has conducted several workshops for children and teachers, with themes ranging from the literary and visual to the performing arts. These include workshops for Junoon, Prithvi Theatre, NCPA, Ranga Shankara Bangalore, British Council, etc.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Making Theatre Accessible

Sub.: Making Theatre Accessible: Tickets for Plays available at discounted rate for NGOs in Mumbai working with children

Dear Friends, 

We at Gillo would like to make our shows accessible for children who otherwise do not get to experience theatre performances, including children from lower economic backgrounds and children with different abilities.

Under our initiative of Making Theatre Accessible, we are once again offering discounted tickets this summer to NGOs in Mumbai working with children.

Gillo is offering seats at Rs. 25 per ticket to children from NGOs in Mumbai. (Ticket prices are between Rs.150 and Rs.300)
These tickets are available on a first-come first-served basis and for LIMITED SEATS as follows:

Play 'Taoos Chaman Ki Myna'
at 11 am on Sun. 27th April 2014 
at Bhavan's Auditorium, Chowpatty.
Maximum 50 seats per NGO.

Play 'Double bill of Mister Jeejeebhoy... and Catch That Crocodile' 
at 6.30 pm on Sat 17th May 2014 
at NCPA, Nariman Point
Maximum 20 seats per NGO.

Play 'Double bill of Mister Jeejeebhoy... and Catch That Crocodile' 
at 12 noon and 4 pm on Tue 3rd and Wed 4th June 2014 
at Prithvi Theatre, Juhu. 
Maximum 20 seats per NGO.

Play 'She-He-Shey' 
at 8pm on Tue 3rd and Wed 4th June 2014 
at Prithvi Theatre, Juhu. 
Maximum 20 seats per NGO.

Visit for more details (such as language, age group, etc.) and choose accordingly.

To book tickets, please send an email to with details (name, address and contact of NGO, number of children, age group, name of play, date and time of show you would like to see).

Interested NGOs must avail of the discounted tickets (including payment) 10 days before the show date. After that only direct bookings at full price will be available. 

[Note: Please DO NOT contact Bhavan's Auditorium or NCPA or Prithvi Theatre or Book My Show directly for discounted tickets]


Tanya Mahajan
Gillo Theatre Repertory
Do also note that:

- Tickets shall be handed over to you one hour before the show at the venue.
Arrangements to bring the children to the theatre and take them back to their homes to be done by the NGO. 
-  You are advised to reach the venue 30 min before the start of the show so that all the children can be seated comfortably before the show starts
- Late entry after the show has started is not permitted, even for a large group, as this is disturbing for the rest of the audience.
- For any adults accompanying the children, tickets will have to be purchased by you directly at the full rate.

Shows in Summer 2014 in Mumbai

Gillo Theatre Repertory will stage the following plays from April to June 2014 in Mumbai.

Here are some details about the plays:

‘A poignant tale of a father’s love for his daughter’
Language: Urdu
2hr 10min (with interval)
Suggested age: 8 years and above
Adapted from Naiyer Masud’s Urdu story ‘Taoos Chaman Ki Myna’ published by Katha Books
Adaptation and Direction Atul Tiwari
Lyrics Nazeer Akbarabadi, Atul Tiwari
Music Amod Bhatt
Production Design M S Sathyu
Choreography Pooja Pant
Cast: Vighnesh Sinkar, Manoj Kumar Karki, Vianca Varma, Afsana Ahmed, Sharvari Deshpande and others

Work is on in full swing at the Royal Peacock Garden to install a Wondrous Cage that will house forty talking hill mynas. Soon, the Cage and its lively, twittering occupants are entrusted to Kale Khan’s care. But he steals a myna for his little motherless daughter, who has long been asking him for one. What lies in store for Kale Khan ... and the beautiful historic city of Lucknow?
Taoos... premiered in May 2013 and has since been staged in Mumbai, Pune, Bhopal, Delhi, Lucknow and Kanpur, including two shows at the NSD’s prestigious Bharat Rang Mahotsav.

Two short plays for the very young
Language: English
1 hr 45 min (with interval)
Suggested age: 4 years and above
Based on a story by Anushka Ravishankar
Directed by Shaili Sathyu
Sound designed by Hetal Varia
Production designed by Tanya Mahajan, Shaili Sathyu
Cast: Shreyans Iyer, Prasad Dagare, Sahil Gangurde, Ghanshyam Tiwari, Hetal Varia, Vighnesh Sinkar, Amit Bhargava, Afsana Ahmed
A crocodile appears in the centre of town – no one’s sure how it’s got there but it needs to be caught and returned to the river. Easier said than done, as various high profile people of the town find out. The crocodile outsmarts almost everyone who tries to catch him, but he sure was not ready for little Meena.
This is a stage version of a relatively simple story, originally written by Anushka Ravishankar in fun, quirky verse.
Based on a story by Anitha Balachandran
Directed by Shaili Sathyu
Music by Sharvari Deshpande and Vighnesh Sinkar
Cast: Manoj Karki, Sahil Gangurde, Sharvari Deshpande / Nishna Mehta, Devina Medda / Ishita Dave
Musicians: Vighnesh Sinkar and Prasad Dagare
Two siblings, one very strange Aunt, and a flock of escaped birds... Magic and mayhem comes in unexpected shapes and sizes to one small corner of a very big city.
Each part of this spectacular story by Anitha Balachandran is brought to life in an interactive form that will delight and amaze children. Come, become a part of the ‘strangeness’.

A stage adaptation of Rabindranath Tagore’s Shey
Language: English-Hindi-Bengali
1 hr 20 min (no interval)
Suggested age: All above 12 years
Original bengali text Rabindranath Tagore
English translation Aparna Chaudhari
Adaptation & direction Shaili Sathyu
Choreography Hamsa Moily
Music Mithila Lad & Anagh Banerjee
Production design Abir Patwardhan
Light design Sananda Mukhopadhyay
Cast: Sharvari Deshpande, Vighnesh Sinkar, Hetal Varia, Ghanshyam Tiwari, Prasad Dagare, Sahil Gangurde, Devina Medda, Amit Bhargava.
She-He-Shey is a stage adaptation of Tagore’s book ‘Shey’ (Se), a collection of stories of extraordinary adventures, created for his nine-year old granddaughter Nandini. To keep the tales spinning he employs ‘Shey’, a person constituted entirely of words and rather talented at concocting tales. This stage adaptation is a free flowing response to the stories in the book Shey, set in a collage along with poems and paintings by Tagore.
This play was commissioned by Happenings Kolkata for the Rabindra Utsav 2013 and has also been performed in Santiniketan and Mumbai.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Drama Club final session

Yesterday we had the last session of our Drama Club for 2013-14. Here are some photos of the Bandra group with children and parents.
The workshop session was led by Prasad Dagare and then towards the end each child let the group through one activity. Always nice to see children taking the lead and being incharge!

Our next workshops will begin in May. Watch this blog for details on dates, venues, etc.

Monday, January 27, 2014

COMING SOON...on Sat 1st FEB 2014 at 5pm

At the KALA GHODA ARTS FESTIVAL - Children's Literature Festival
David Sassoon Library Garden

Directed by    SHAILI SATHYU

A crocodile appears in the centre of town – no one’s sure how it’s got there but it needs to be caught and returned to the river. Easier said than done, as various high profile people of the town find out. The crocodile outsmarts almost everyone who tries to catch him, but he sure was not ready for little Meena.
This is a musical rendition of a relatively simple story, originally written in fun, quirky verse. 

A short play suitable for children 4 to 8 years

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Reclaiming the 'folk' - a reflective essay

Reclaiming the folk
A reflective essay
By Shaili Sathyu, Artistic Director, Gillo Theatre Repertory, Mumbai, India
(Originally written for Magazine GAP (Political Arts Magazine) )
Yes, the title of this essay may sound a bit preposterous! But before I continue, I would like to say that this project is more for the individual growth of each artist involved in the production, rather than some larger service to society or reference to the politics of the arts.
For a few years now I have been thinking about what it means to be an ‘urban’ theatre practitioner. One is bombarded with accusations from within and without, regarding one’s identity, background, aesthetic core, training and traditions. Stuck between an ancient tradition and international explorations in performance, we have conditioned ourselves to look at expression and forms in tight-jacketed boxes (or genres). In India especially there is the romanticism of the folk, obsessing with the idea of tradition and not its politics, fossilising art forms against their grain.
In this background, we as a company creating performances for young audiences have been facing questions when it comes to the forms we ‘should’ use. As artistic director I was keen to explore the idea of using so-called folk forms with contemporary or newly written stories (definitely not related to ‘save the environment’ or ‘anti-AIDS’ or any other such campaigns). It would be an attempt to use a framework in which the folk forms would be used not just for their ‘museum value’ but for their timeless structures, interactive format and ability to ‘connect’ with the folk, the audience – elements that make these forms popular, accessible and ‘of the folk’.
Initial ideas
With this thought we have planned six performances for young audiences between 5 years and 14 years. Each performance will be 30 to 40 min and based on published stories written in the last 20 years by Indian authors. We feel children will be open and receptive to new stories using old forms.
This short performances project is intended to bring together different forms of performance and use these as a tool to tell our stories. But the choice of forms also depends on which guest artists we collaborate with, the traditional form they are well versed in and what they want to share with artists of our repertory.
Instead of being performances for the formal stage, these will be designed as stand-alone shows that can be performed literally anywhere, whether it is in schools, activity centres, libraries, bookstores, homes, community spaces, parks, gardens and other spaces. There shall be no requirement for a formal stage or the paraphernalia that comes with it. (And we continue to do other longer performances at more formal theatre spaces.) The design of the productions shall be flexible and shall focus more on the performance form and text.
Each story shall be performed using inspiration from performance and visual art forms from different parts of India. There shall also be a strong element of developing a visual aesthetic that is complimentary to the performance form and at the same time stimulating and interactive for children.
We want the performances to not only tell a story but also expose children to a performance idiom and an aesthetic that they may not normally engage with. But the aim is not to ‘teach’ children about the art forms. It is to bring in a certain body language in the performers, a narrative style and a manner of dialogue delivery rooted in traditional and folk forms.
Another aspect of this project is that each performance shall be made accessible for children with hearing impairment or visual impairment. For example, the performances shall be re-worked to include sign language and more movement for the hearing impaired audience. For a blind audience we shall include more sounds, songs and also add touch-based activities related to props and costumes of the play. Research and theatre lab processes shall be done in collaboration with institutions and experts working with children with special needs.
Part one - Nautanki

Dr. Devendra Sharma giving a demonstration

The journey of our first play Hanuman Ki Ramayan started not with the text, but with a workshop on nautanki[1] in Feb 2012. Dr. Devendra Sharma happened to be in India this year (he teaches at the University of California, Fresno, USA) and I heard that he had done a workshop production with students at the FTII. So I asked him if he would like to conduct a workshop for artists of Gillo and he said yes. It was an intense 2-day workshop which included lectures, demonstrations and training. All artists responded very enthusiastically and I could see that the engagement had sparked something in them. 
 Actors learning traditional nautanki verses

The 2-day workshop was an eye-opener for most of us and it also inspired us to start working on a performance using this style. We were very clear that we did not want to re-perform or re-create any of the old nautankis as they are for adults and not for children and young people – our target audience. So we set about looking for stories that could be adapted into nautanki (swaang-geet[2]).
 Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik, author of ‘Hanuman Ki Ramayan’

I suggested to Dr. Sharma to write and direct a short play in nautanki, based on a story. Out of 3 stories he selected Hanuman Ki Ramayan by Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik, published by Tulika Books. Dr. Sharma had never written or directed a nautanki especially for children. So he was quite excited about the collaboration. But when he went back home to Delhi, his father Pt. Ram Dayal Sharma (a well-known exponent of nautanki) was so touched by the story that he decided to write the script himself. I think that has been a boon for us because he brings so much experience to the whole production and has used a range of verses and compositions, capturing the essence of nautanki in this short 40 minute piece!
Gillo team with Dr. Devendra Sharma, Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik, Pt. Ram Dayal Sharma and Shama Zaidi
The training and rehearsals were structured by Dr. Sharma and as Artistic Director I would observe and give feedback as and when I felt was necessary. My role was more as a pedagogue making connections between the performance and the perspective of a young audience. The entire rehearsal process lasted for 12 days and over the last 3 days we called some children to watch rehearsals. This completely changed the body language of the performers and the director. Now the rehearsal performance had the context of a live audience and helped a lot in shaping the final performance.
Valmik (Sharvari Deshpande) and Narad (Harshad Tambe) at a platform performance at Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai
The visual design was more challenging because we were working with characters like Hanuman, Narad[3] and other gods and goddesses. There is no dearth of traditional ways of representing these characters, whether by way of masks, costumes or face painting. Yet, we chose to give all performers similar generic costumes - dhoti and baagalbandi (type of kurta[4]). And Hanuman does not have a monkey face or a tail. Narad does not have a mukut[5] or jewels. And so on.
We also used male and female performers irrespective of the character. So, we have Sharvari Deshpande playing Valmiki[6] and Narad has been played by male (Harshad Tambe and Ghanshyam Tiwari) and female (Vinati Makijany) artists. Gender of the performer was not a concern while casting for a role. The performance was of utmost importance, especially the singing talent.
Apart from the singing, the aspect of improvisation is very important and integral to nautanki. But I asked the performers and the director to refrain from too much add-lib and improvisation. This was deliberately so because I wanted to keep the crispness of the written text and also ensure that the performers focused on the new form they have just learnt. I didn’t want them to get distracted or carried away. Each form has its own grammar of improvisation and I feel as a company we don’t have enough understanding to improvise in nautanki. It would only land up being a caricature and I did not want that to happen. Sometimes things are better just as they are. Adding things need not necessarily improve a performance.
In retrospect
A show in the garden of an apartment complex in Mumbai
Over the past year we have performed Hanuman Ki Ramayan in a range of spaces like courtyards, living rooms in homes, gardens, an indoor badminton court and schools. The audience has ranged from young children to senior citizens and the play has moved each one in a different way. Parents were happy to share this experience with their children. Adults were moved by the sacrifice of Hanuman, while children have been enthralled by the antics of Narad. Sometimes we have seen adults and grandparents weep through the play, while children have been laughing away at the actions and interactions between characters. The contrasting responses have been most humbling for us as performers.
Riyaz (rehearsal) before a show
Looking back, this experience has been most enriching for each and every person in the company, even those who are not in the production. The form has given us the space and opportunity to explore our own self as artists and extend beyond our supposed realm. Artists have definitely raised their performing skills through the process and feel they are doing something they had not thought themselves capable of. Do remember that most of them have no singing background and those who do, have a different schooling in music. Nautanki requires a different singing quality and each one has had to extend themselves in aspects like pitch, diction, acting with singing, etc. The operatic nature of the form has been challenging and inspiring at the same time. It has instilled belief in the artists that they can explore and go beyond. And they are now more eager to learn new things.
This entire journey seems like an experiment, not in the form but more an experiment on the artists.  Swaang-geet has helped us extend ourselves as performers and understand the unique grammar of an operatic form. Words in a song and words in operatic verse work so very differently. It would probably have taken us years to realise this, had it not been for this engagement with nautanki. I am sure this will influence our approach to text, especially verse.
Our young audience
Traditionally children have been a secondary audience during nautanki performances (as well as most traditional performance forms in India). In our play children become the primary audience and adults ‘tag-along’. It is our sincere effort to share with urban audiences the ‘ras’[7] of theatre without any labels. For us it is as contemporary as any other performance form. Not folk or traditional or fossilised, but alive and vibrant... something with huge value to us as performers and our audience as ‘rasiks’[8].
Hindi Swang-Nautanki / 40 min
For children and adults

Original Author - Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik
Nautanki Adaptation & Music - Pt. Ram Dayal Sharma
Direction & Hindi Translation – Dr. Devendra Sharma
Costume design – Shama Zaidi
Illustration – Anagh Banerjee
Musicians – Ravindra Belbansi, Janit Temkar
Actors – Sharvari Deshpande, Hetal Varia, Prasad Dagare, Harshad Tambe, Ghanshyam Tiwari, Ishita Dave, Vinati Makijany, Sahil Gangurde, Vighnesh Sinkar.

About the play
Valmiki has barely put his pen down after completing his magnificent creation, the epic Ramayan, when he realises he has competition. The sage Narad tells him that there is a better Ramayan, written by Hanuman. Valmiki is devastated! And when Hanuman sees Valmiki so upset, what does he do?
Hanuman Ki Ramayan is based on a short story by Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik, published by Tulika Books. In this specially commissioned piece we have adapted the story in nautanki form (swaangeet). It is a part of our series of short plays for young audiences, using various theatrical forms.
What is ‘Nautanki’?
Nautanki performances are operas (dramatic works set to music) based on popular folk themes from tales of romance and valour, mythology, or biographies of local heroes.
Nautanki’s origins lie in ancient Indian performance traditions like Saangeet or Swang, as well as other performance traditions like Bhagat and Raasleela of Mathura and Vrindavan in Uttar Pradesh, and Khayal of Rajasthan.
Nautanki reached its pinnacle in the early 20th century when numerous Nautanki troupes, known as mandalis came into existence. Nautanki mandalis were also called akharas because this form of singing requires a lot of physical power and full-throated singing in high pitches. There was a sport-like rivalry among various Nautanki mandalis to out-perform each other. The Nautankis staged by these mandalis or akharas became the main source of entertainment in the towns and villages of Northern India, and remained so until the coming of television and cinema.
The pleasure of Nautanki lies in the intense melodic exchanges between the performers. Performances are often punctuated with individual songs, dances and skits, which serve as breaks and comic relief for audiences.
Nautanki performances can take place in any open space available in or around a village that can accommodate audiences in hundreds or thousands. Sometimes this space is made available by the village chaupal; at other times the playground of the local school becomes the performance site. Traditional Nautankis usually start late at night, often around 10 p.m. or so, and go on all night until sunrise!
Nautanki still holds a strong influence over people’s imagination in northern parts of India, and even after the spread of mass media like TV and radio, a crowd of 10,000 to 15,000 shows up for a Nautanki performance.
Dr. Devendra Sharma

[1] A is a traditional operatic form of performance from India
[2] A form which gave birth to nautanki as we know it today
[3] Narad is a sage who prominently features in texts like the Ramayan
[4] An upper garment worn in India
[5] Crown
[6] Author of the Ramayan
[7] Literally means juice, but in an artistic context means essence
[8] A connoisseur