Tribune press service

Dharamsala, July 16

Dharamshala International Residential Theater Festival (DRIFT) kicked off at Himachal Pradesh Tourism Development Corporation (HPTDC) Club House Hotel in McLeodganj here today.

The two-day festival kicked off with a workshop on creating comics by Alia Sinha, followed by plays ‘Tales of Nasruddin Hodja’ and ‘Story of Tibet’ performed by students from the children’s village school Tibetans.

The Tibetan Performing Arts Institution made a cultural presentation.

In the afternoon, Pratibha Rai presented another play, ‘Saag’. A workshop on “how to play a character” was organized by Quissar while the Aagaaz Theater in Delhi presented the play “Samay kaise guzra”.

Dolls4Tibet studio presented another show, ‘Khwaab’, while QTP, Mumbai presented the play ‘All That Is Shining’.

Niranjani Iyer, director of DRIFT, in an interview with The Tribune, said it was after about two years of the pandemic that the theater festival was held in Dharamsala. DRIFT’s endeavor is to bring theater to ordinary people for social change.

She said DRIFT was a theatrical adventure of the Pocket Theater Company. “It’s an experiment in creating sustainable theater communities outside of urban areas. The central principle of the festival is that the participating groups will supervise its organization themselves. They will help each other by setting up work behind the scenes, opening, preparing and serving food and drink to performers and audience members. The open workshops will focus on interactive theatre, sound design, physical theater and light design. It will be a festival created and managed by the participants. The festival continues throughout the year with a series of residential workshops, talks and performances as well as outreach programs for students at local schools,” she added.

Since 2016, regular workshops organized by Niranjani Iyer in collaboration with locals in Dharamsala have generated a group of interested locals who regularly attend the performances. “We hope this will lead to a performance by local residents, and possibly the formation of a local troupe. The festival is centered on the ideas of resistance, resilience and community. We strongly believe that through the act of working together towards a collective vision, theater is inherently conducive to building solidarity between people,” said Iyer.