Thespo is an annual youth theatre festival. All the participants at Thespo must be under 25 years of age. It is a platform for any and every young person under 25 who is interested in any and all aspects of theatre. The age limit aside, Thespo firmly believes in including youth from all parts of the world, all fields, all language groups and all art forms who share a love for theatre. The workshops conducted at the festival are free of cost in order to widen its reach and make theatre accessible to everyone. The festival magazine is sold at a  subsidized rate and student tickets are priced nominally in order to fulfill the aims of our mandate.

Thespo is held every December in Bombay where scores of participants under 25 years of age come together to organise a national theatre festival, stage full length productions, short performances in informal spaces, attend workshops, build bridges across different schools of theatre, find friendships across thousands of miles, learn about theatre/life/themselves and form a  dynamic community of likeminded young individuals. At the end of the festival, as an added incentive, awards and cash prizes are presented in various acting, writing, directing and production categories.

Thespo is an initiative of TG Bombay and QTP

Q Theatre Productions
Born in a classroom at St. Xavier’s College, Q Theatre Productions (QTP) is completely a product of the student theatre system of Bombay. Now 12 years on, the core group is still the same with a few additions. At present the group is run by Arghya, Christopher, Nadir, Varun, Vivek, Toral and Quasar along with scores of volunteers and theatre enthusiasts floating in and out as and when their schedule allows.

What began as a part-time activity grew to a passion, then an obsession and now a profession. QTP is a full time theatre company that deals in the various aspects of theatre—producing plays, production managing, conducting workshops, curating festivals, promoting theatre, popularizing theatre through an e-zine called The Script, providing technical assistance and even conducting theatre activities for children who do not have access to creative outlets. QTP also works to inspire the theatre loving youth of Bombay through their pet project, Thespo, started in 1999.

In the last few years QTP has been part of many international projects and collaborations which have taken them to the United Kingdom, the United States, Italy, Australia, Canada, etc. Four of QTP’s plays are still running on the local circuit - The President Is Coming, Project S.T.R.I.P., Nostalgia Brand Chewing Gum and Khatijabai of Kamali Terrace.

While theatre’s dependence on sponsorships is a harsh reality for all groups, QTP also specializes in corporate events to subsidize their productions. Recent clients have included Microsoft, YPO, Hyatt Regency, Manhattan Credit Cards, Sandoz, Cadbury’s, ICICI, Unilever and Tata Motors.

2011 has been an eventful year for QTP, who just completed an international tour of Mind Walking with Bandbaazi of the United Kingdom. QTP also organized the Laadli Media Awards, Lakme Product Launch as well as TATA Literature Live!

Theatre Group Bombay
The Lucky Horseshoe Table

It all began in the year 1941, when, in the midst of the chaos of World War II, a passionate theatre-lover named Sultan Bobby Padamsee staged Macbeth. The stage was then set for the creation of a new army, one far away from the fronts of Germany. In 1944, Deryck Jeffereis, Jean Bhownagary and Adi Marzban joined forces and together with Sultan Bobby Padamsee staged plays such as Salome and Othello. They were birds of a feather with scraggly beards, scruffy looks, excellent playwriting and commendable performances. This marked the beginning of Theatre Group (TG).

With the unfortunate passing of Bobby Padamsee in 1946, Ebrahim Alkazi, Dereck Jeffereis, Jamid Sayani and Alyque Padamsee commandeered TG to new levels of excellence and liveliness. Legends such as Pearl Padamsee, Gerson da Cunha, Vijay Crishna, Sabira Merchant joined to maintain the TG mantra of delivering quality theatre in a creative way.

As time passed, TG just kept getting stronger and more innovative. Scripts were carefully read and painstakingly chosen to be produced: EquusCandidaJesus Christ SuperstarTughlaqSix Characters In Search of an AuthorArturo UiThree Sisters… One of their most risky productions was their 1969 production of Marat/Sade. This performance was staged in the main hall at Xavier’s as the audience looked on from the balconies. The actors, supposedly inmates trying to escape from the asylum, climbed towards the audiences and scared the living daylights out of them. To this day, laughter surrounds the horseshoe table at Kulsum Terrace when the episode is mentioned in passing at the AGM held there.

Trying to come out of the mold of only performing the works of Western playwrights, TG staged plays by Indian writers such as Partap Sharma (A Touch of Brightness, 1965), Girish Karnad (Tughlaq, 1970) and Mahesh Dattani (Tara, 1991). Their thirst for innovation also led to them to introduce the use of stage lights and visual enactments during performances.

In 1966, The Sultan Padamsee Award for Playwriting was instituted by TG in memory of Bobby Padamsee. The idea of award was to promote fresh playwriting. Among the prominent winners havebeen Gurcharan Das with Larins Saheb, Geive Patel with Princes, Dina Mehta with The Myth Makers and Cyrus Mistry with Doongaji House. After a gap of over 2 decades, the award returned this year.

The Headquarters of TG is still Kulsum Terrace in Colaba, the home of Bobby. Yearly AGMs are sill conducted around the large horseshoe table in the drawing room, which is also the venue for unconventional staging of plays like The Birthday Party (1973). In its constant bid to innovate, TG created the Terrace Theatre, a performance space built on the patio of Chotu Terrace in Colaba that could seat 100 people. Besides these, venues such as Sundarbai Hall, Jai Hind College Auditorium and BEST Hall were also roped in as staging areas.

And just when the world thought that TG could revolutionize no more, Thespo was born in 1999. Thespo is a reminder that the future belongs to the youth-those under 25 with a need to be on, behind, or lighting the stage. Thespo looks out for the bold, brave and creative qualities of its predecessors, including the scraggly beards.

TG has been stretching limits and rethinking the tried and tested in almost every sphere of the dramatic world, and will continue to do so for as long as their lucky horseshoe table sticks around.


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