Up close and personal

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Astad Deboo explores the space at Studio Tamaasha in his show. Pics/Ritam Banerjee
Astad Deboo explores the space at Studio Tamaasha in his show. Pics/Ritam Banerjee

"When you sit inches away from the performer, there could be an initial moment of awkwardness. But then it gets exciting, and a strong bond forms between the audience and the artiste. There is no getting away here," says acclaimed theatre director Sunil Shanbag about the dynamics of performing in an intimate space like Studio Tamaasha, which he founded in April last year.

Astad Deboo explores the space at Studio Tamaasha in his show. Pics/Ritam Banerjee

This Saturday, the viewer-performer relationship will acquire a new dimension as ace dancer-choreographer Astad Deboo takes the stage at Studio Tamaasha to present a solo performance, Liminal: Below the Edge, specially designed for the Versova venue. "Sunil and I go back nearly 40 years. When I saw the space, I found it exciting and it called out to me. I do a lot of site-specific work, but this is the first time I am in such a compact space," says Deboo about the collaboration, adding that the performance deals with the turmoil, unrest and uncertainty we are experiencing today. The music has been composed by Michael Brook, Paul Giger and the late U Srinivas, The venue has a T-shaped stage with the audience seated on either side. Deboo's performance has been created to explore three different parts of the space. "A lot of work that I do is very controlled. If I am raising a leg, the viewer [in an intimate set-up] can see the movement vividly. It's an experience for the audience to see the performer up close," shares Deboo.

Astad Deboo explores the space at Studio Tamaasha in his show. Pics/Ritam Banerjee

Shanbag believes that there is a certain openness to the way the studio can be used. But with Deboo, it was a different experience. "Astad is a master at using spaces. A lot of what one has learnt about space has been from watching him in the past. It felt perfectly natural to ask him if he would like to do something here. And he has the ability to make you see your own space differently."

Sunil Shanbag
Sunil Shanbag

How do they view the recent surge in the number of alternative performance spaces in Mumbai? "It is good to see that these spaces have sprung up. I find Sitara Studio in Parel interesting, too," says Deboo, who feels that intimate venues lend themselves well to previews of works in progress. Back from South America, where he and his company were invited to perform at the 25th anniversary celebrations of the festival of the Arts in Santiago, Chile, Deboo is creating a show suited for the Tao Art Gallery space in Worli.

Shanbag calls the development exciting. "It's adding to the richness of the cultural landscape of the city. But it's also a good time to point out that this is all created by the performing arts community, with no support of any kind," he says. "It's an amazing spirit. You go out there, find spaces, and make them performance-ready. Something good has to come out of this."

ON: February 10, 7.30 pm
AT: Studio Tamaasha, Bungalow No 76, Aram Nagar, Versova,
LOG ON TO: bookmyshow.com
ENTRY: Rs 354

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