A collection of some of the most exquisite moments captured at the IAPAR International Theatre Festival 2021.

“It was a hot Indian summer afternoon when our festival director & my mentor called me for a meeting. He wanted me to help him with the theatre festival he had always visualised. As always, I was delighted to work with one of my favourite people, especially since events have been my forte since I was in school. This time however, I wanted to do more than just managing the festival like an event. After much deliberation, it was decided I will head documentation at the IAPAR International Theatre Festival. From the sound of it, ‘documentation,’ sounds like very administrative, almost bureaucratic work. What I did not know back then, was that this would come to be one of the most enthralling experiences of my life, something I look forward to each coming year.

I am not a trained filmmaker/photographer/cinematographer, but I have always been fascinated by moving images. As a child, movies always profoundly impacted me. W. J. T. Mitchell’s quote continues to inform my work at the festival, “Images are not only visual. They’re also auditory, the involve sensuous impressions, bundles of information that comes through us through our senses, and mainly through seeing and hearing: the audio-visual field”. When I started planning for documentation at the festival, I only had one clear goal – I wanted to make sure that people not at the festival also had as exciting and significant experiences as those attending the festival. I wanted to tell a story about performances, about the festival and about the people who created it. The challenge was telling this story through still & moving images, through this audio-visual field.

At the second year of the festival, we worked with a group of volunteer students from a film & television institute. Even though we were all still getting the hang of things, we managed to capture the most vivid moments of the festival. For the next year, I had bigger plans. By this time, we had a strong team of creative people in Rajat, Radheya and some others. We wanted to capture the festival theme, “Actor at the Centre,” a task that required us to deeply engage with every performance, every actor, and every production.

Anticipation & patience are the two skills required to capture the correct expression; one needs to understand the mood, movements and light design of the performance. As the performer moves, the light follows and so does the camera. You need to be involved in performance and yet be detached; detachment is important to stay grounded in your job of capturing the right moments.

We also paid special attention to curating an immersive experience for those who couldn’t attend the festival. We created one-minute videos encapsulating each day’s events, with our theme song that added a cinematic touch to our videos making them more immersive. It was an instant success, adding a nice touch of nostalgia to our festival archives.

In the following year, we introduced the “Green Room Diaries,” a series where we interviewed performers, facilitators, directors and brought their experiences to the forefront, speaking with them about the performances, processes, and technicalities. It has been a deeply learning experience for many of us because it gave us a deep dive into the artist’s mind.

During the festival, we spend hours watching performances, discussing them at tea breaks; as time passes, we only remember the actors, some remarkable visuals, and gradually the memory fizzles out. Over the years, all we remember is the name of a play or maybe a performer from a specific part of the world; a single memory representative of a once-immersive experience. In this way, documentation of the festival is as impactful as the festival itself. There are multiple narratives that can be woven through it to for people living in different times & spaces. Generations to come will benefit from these archives we have created over the past five years and those we continue to create.”

~Rohan Wekhande, Creative Associate and Festival Documentation Head

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