Wari Foreword and Wari: Chapter 1
Wari’s first public show was put forward as the foreword and was held at The Attic in Connaught Place on June 10, 2016. The Attic is an intimate performance venue with a comfortable seating for about 60-70 people. At least 80-85 people were present for the preview foreword show, much to our delight, for a Friday 6:30 pm performance! This was a non-ticketed, free entry show.
For the foreword, the performances included five stories preceded by an introductory story, about the vision and how Wari came into existence, by Nicky Chandam. She is the founder of Wari, the creative arm of Octave Foundation, of which she is the Director.
The stories that followed the introduction were two tales narrated by Dastango Ankit Chadha – first one was an adaptation of a Jewish folk story called Satya aur Kahani. The next story that Ankit told was titled Gupp – an age-old story of contesting wits, from Manipur. The third story for the evening titled Chaar Paheliyaan was performed by Anuja Jaiman. Anuja is also the co-founder of Wari. The story, a Russian folk tale about a seven-year-old girl trumping the mighty tzar, was directed by Delhi based director, actor and Improv teacher Saif Ali. Fourth story titled Swar was performed by Rishabh Mittal. The story, about a bird and its aspirations and failures, was directed by actor and director Shruti. This story found a lot of resonance with the children in the audience at both the venues. The fifth and final story titled Lal Pan Ki Begum was performed by actor Abhinav Sabyasachi. The story, written by Phanishwar Nath Renu, is set in a village in Bihar depicting an evening of domestic sparrings and a family’s desire to see the village fair.
The formal launch event, Wari: Chapter One was held at The Stein Auditorium, India Habitat Centre on June 25, 2016 as a part of an Old World Culture presentation. This was a ticketed show, and it was very humbling for us to see a near house-full auditorium. The Stein seats a little more than 400 people. The stories performed were the same as described above, except for a musical addition. We invited actor and singer Vipin Heero, who lent the evening two songs, both stories in themselves, and made it lyrically beautiful!
About the artists and stories:
Stories aren’t always meant to mirror the truth, neither are they meant to befool the listeners. They attempt to tread the treacherous middle path. Through this Manipuri tale (preceded by a Jewish story), we see how the oral tradition rests upon the teller's ability to stretch the narrative. Enjoy the richness of folk by listening to this contest of wits.
Language: Hindustani | Duration: 20 mins
Adaptation of Manipuri tale by: Nicky Chandam & Ankit Chadha
Ankit Chadha is a Delhi-based storyteller, who has been working with Mahmood Farooqui to revive Dastangoi since 2010. His writing varies from biographical accounts of Sufi poets like Amir Khusrau and Kabir to modern adaptations of folk tales passed through oral tradition. His first book for children My Gandhi Story is a national award winner.
2. Chaar Paheliyaan
A tale about justice and defying power, this is an adaptation from a story titled Saat Baras Ki Bitiya from Roosi Lok Kathayein, a Russian folk tale book. Originally translated by Omprakash Sangal and published in Moscow.
Language: Hindustani | Duration: 20 mins | Adapted for the stage by: Anuja Jaiman and Saif Ali | Directed by: Saif Ali
Saif Ali works in New Delhi. He started his acting career in San Francisco. His performance repertoire includes improvised, scripted, experimental and immersive theatre (and dinner theatre!). Saif performed at venues across the Bay Area and appeared in the Night of the Improv Rising Stars at the Eureka Theatre in North Beach with the ensemble thursProv. Notably, he performed lead roles in David Mamet's Sexual Perversity in Chicago at the Beverly Hills Playhouse of San Francisco theatre (dir. Rob Zimmerman) and Feisal Alkazi's Noor at the BRAVA theatre. His film credits include award winning short-film The Zahir directed by Berkeley filmmaker Olga Holtz and the modern horror flick Sweet Kitty by Kurt Nangle. Saif was selected for the narrative lead in an experimental, site-specific theatre project, Art Behind Bars conceptualized by the Stanford Re-designing Theatre Initiative, that was performed on Alcatraz Island. Most recently, he appeared as the lead in the immersive play Shiva Calling directed by Charu Shankar. He co-directed the short play iStereotypnator that finished overall runner-up at Delhi Short & Sweet. Saif’s mission is to continuously offer his skills in the performing arts to the community. Stories can connect people with each other and help them to find their own answers through those interactions.
Anuja Jaiman is a Delhi based actor and a freelance editor. Born in Dehradun, she worked as a journalist for a decade and has recently returned to theatre to pursue acting. She is presently exploring Improv theatre. Anuja’s theatrical journey started with Abhivyakti - the dramatics society of Delhi University’s IP College where she acted in thirteen productions over a span of three years. Anuja is also the co-founder of Wari.
Swar is a tale about dreams, discovery and catharsis. Swar gives you a glimpse into his story of defiance and rebellion against the status quo.
Language: Hindustani | Duration: 20 mins | Direction by Shruti | Performed by Rishabh Mittal
Shruti is a theatre director, actor and facilitator in Delhi. She started facilitating children workshops with "Yellow Cat Co." in Delhi and went on to explore the same with students and teachers in Kashmir with "STEP Trust" a Delhi based NGO. She directs under her Delhi based group “T for Theatre”. She has also acted with the groups mentioned above and is open to collaboration and quirky ideas anyone might want to explore.
Rishabh Mittal is an actor, voice over artist and a writer based in Noida - Delhi NCR. He has worked with Atelier Theatre, Kaivalya plays, worked with Saif Ali as an Improv actor and worked with other Delhi based theatre groups. He directed ‘A reasonable doubt’, the annual theatre production (2012) of Shaheed Bhagat Singh college, Delhi University. He has also performed as a dancer with Shiamak Davar troupe on multiple occasions. He is trained in Hindustani Classical Music and Kalaripayattu. This piece is improvised from a short story written by Rishabh Mittal.
4. Lal Pan Ki Begum
An amusing tale set in Bihar, it is about a couple going to watch a Nach (dance theatre) at the village fair and the complications an inevitable delay brings to their relationship. The story is written by one of Hindi's great writers Phanishwar Nath ‘Renu’ who is best known for promoting the voice of contemporary rural India through the genre of 'Aanchalik Upanyas' (Regional Story).
Language: Hindi/Bhojpuri | Duration: 15 mins
Abhinav Sabyasachi is the founder of 'Paltan', a theatre and art group. He is originally from Bihar and now lives in Delhi. He has been doing extensive theatre with groups like IPTA, 'Sansaptak', Sehar Theatre Group. He has done plays in Hindi, Bengali, English, Maithili, Urdu and French and conducts theatre workshops. Abhinav is also a freelance journalist, writer, published poet and a painter.
5. Guest artist – Vipin Heero
Vipin Heero is a singer, songwriter and composer with a unique style of his own. He is trained in classical guitar and has carved a niche for himself with the songs he writes, often amusingly based on daily life situations! He is also an actor and has appeared on television. Vipin also sings the poetry of Kabir.
Preeti Agarwal Mehta is a freelance actor and writer. She works with disadvantaged children and youth at the NGO, Karm Marg.
""Chandam, who has been chronicling Delhi and its culture started the Octave Foundation to bridge the gap between the northeastern region and the rest of the country via culture and the arts.
Thus, "one of the stories to be performed on Saturday is a Manipuri tale that we have adapted in Urdu", she said.""
Review in Business Standard:
"Those on stage were not narrators but artists who interestingly took different characters one by one, maintaining the original task of narrating. They adapted the body language, the voice texture, the expressions and of course the dialogues of different individuals they were playing."
Story in The New Indian Express:
"Five modern storytellers from different parts of the country performed, bringing us a rich range of material: a folktale from Manipur, a story written by Phanishwar Nath Renu, some new material, and a powerful Russian folk tale about defying powers and seeking justice."
Coverage in Hindustan Times: