Theatre Technology & Dance Theatre

Many arts originated and developed in religious ceremonies. These ceremonies were officiated by the priest (Choreographer in the modern context of presentation), who relied more on elaborate technique of showmanship to attract congregation and to keep their respect combined with fear and wonder, exercising and inciting a spellbound devotion.

Every event in our daily life, which has primal functions, enchantment and entertainment, make use of technique and the art of showmanship. The philosophy of performance is to create happiness by entertaining and dilating one’s imagination into an analytical reflection and this is possible only when the presentation is aesthetically elevating. Morality will always be an undercurrent.

Mind, being a store house of imageries, repetitive thoughts may make on endure fatigue but thirst for fresh imagery gives rejuvenated impetus for analysis of day-to-day problems. A technically perfect and aesthetic performance sets, conditions and recharges the mind to take rigorous charge of life.

Among the arts, the art of dance theatre (Choreography) finds its place under the section of performing arts. Etymologically the word choreography came from the Greek word called ‘Xoro’. ‘Xoro’ or ‘Choreo’ means ‘to dance’ and ‘graphy’ is the art of writing. Hence, it is an art of visualizing or writing a theme in form of a dance with the aid of technique of presentation and other allied arts.

The art of dance theatre (choreography) is the art of showmanship or the art of deliberation, rightly called so as every act of its presentation is preconceived in the imagery with reasoning. Dance-theatre is a composite art, where all audio-visual arts are homogeneously blended in appropriate proportions. Each art however, follows laws and principles of their own.

The Dance theatre in India has been a theatre of imagination. Every act and deed on stage is done relying completely on the imagination of the audience (codified gestures & postures suggesting the meaning) unlike western theatre where fairies can fly & devils can vanish to hell.

During the time of Shakespeare in England, an entire play would be created as a ‘suspension of disbelieve’ in the minds of the spectators, by way of display boards and placards. Thus the play invariably depended on the strength of description and acting.

In the west, theatre began in an informal way, similarly in India, theatre began its solemnizing and meandering journey from courtyards & temples to modern theatre, transcending itself from very minimal and informal obligations to modern representational technique, keeping itself to the changing demands of the period.

Theatre technique pertains to the knowledge of the principles and functions of various techniques adapted for the intellectual exploitation of the presentation in a creative manner.

The techniques that determine the creative interpretation of a performance are that of designing stage illumination, creation of suitable and suggestive ambiance with the help of sets, makeup, costumes, techniques of the sound and a clear knowledge of the topography and stage mechanics of the place of performance. Relying completely on the art & technique of the theatre becomes indispensable and essential as the Director / Choreographer has a predetermined desire to affect & move the audience.

Many a times, the presentation as we see on stage appear unaesthetic, mediocre or bad. It is not only because of the paucity of funds and lack of usage of the proper equipment’s, but mostly due to the inadequate knowledge of the techniques of theatrical presentation.

Execution of the technique of the theatre, as mentioned above and the skill of utilization can be studied through text materials and with specific guidance on the subject and further by gaining practical experience of techniques of building and designing. This completeness become essential in the art of showmanship of dance theatre.

As a dictum ‘great designers are born not made’ is not totally true. With the very presence of common sense, diligent and intelligent study, systematic planning with aesthetic sense and practical application, one can produce adequate design with a perseverance attitude. It becomes more important for a practicing designer or a person wishing to dabble with technical designing in theatre to clearly communicate the ideas across with alacrity and finally physical transition. Technical rendering of the same on paper with help of drawings & sketches would further aid him to hold a better understanding of the concept in mind.

Specific emphasis on the modern theatre technique and its skillful utilization for an efficacious and aesthetic presentation is indeed necessary. Effective presentation of a lyrical theme i.e., dance theatre becomes rich by adapting a distinct technique and methodology. In the presentation of the choreographic theme (Dance-Theatre) underlining a thematic content, which has to be aimed at something (form) and for something (content) and being the aim “to hold the mirror up to nature” gets justified by reflecting the content to a set of people gathered at a place i.e., the theatre. Themes pertaining to history, myth, philosophy, human psychology, fantasy and contemporary predicament of the people (society) are exploited intelligently, highlighting the creative and intellectual quality of the presentation.

Creative interpretation could be done with an emphasis on six elements, with are: suggestive ambience and atmosphere, colour, effective visibility, costume, makeup and essentials of sound technology and the stage mechanics, and if the choreographer / director wants to affect and move the audience in a predetermined way, he has to rely completely on the art and technique of the theatre.

The epoch of aesthetic and efficacious presentation was started in India by veterans like Sri. Uday Shankar, Sri. Ramgopal, Smt. Maya Rao, Pdt. Narendra Sharma and others. These legendary practitioners of Dance-theatre with their perfect vision of blending the western technique of theatre with Indian themes evolved a respective styles of their own appealing to the masses. An effusive and conspicuous challenge, yet one, that hopes to leave behind the memory of an ineffaceable impression.

about shrish mohan

Shrish Mohan is one of the foremost creative theatre lighting designer & theatre technologist of the country. A First Masters degree holder in thatre arts in Karnataka and the First in India to get a senior fellowship in theatre technology and lighting from the Department of Human Resources and Development, Govt. of India.

An associate of International Association of Lighting Designers, U.S.A. and United States Institute of Theatre Technology, USA. Shrish Mohan is a much sought after consultant and lighting designer for over 600 National and International theatrical presentations, his lighting design experience spans over 2 Decades, besides 15 Years of choreography of Bangalore & Calicut University and M. S. University, Baroda.

He has contributed as a theatre technologist and stage & lighting systems design consultant for almost a dozen theatre projects, inclusive of the prestigious Shilpakala Vedika, Hyderabad, the country’s second largest theatre having world class state of the art facility.

SIRISH MOHAN (Theatre Technologist & Lighting Designer)

1204, West of Chord Road, 2nd stage, 11th B Cross, Mahalakshmipuram Extension, Bangalore – 560086. Ph : 3493409