Documentary Theatre in Kochi

Written by Kerala Museum

Artwork credit: Kerala Museum


with Drama Queen, Anuja Ghosalkar

Documentary Theatre uses materials such as photographs, newspaper articles, interviews, archives, video, letters – about people and real events, as an entry into performance making.

The third in a series of workshops spread over a year, the first was in Bangalore, then Bombay and now Kochi! Open to all we had said, and open to all, it was: we had a doctor, students, actors, story-tellers, a financial advisor, artists, teacher, dancer and creative content writer. Coming from a variety of backgrounds, 12 participants brought to the workshop a diverse range of experiences from their personal lives as well as their practice. Documentary theatre is a method that provides the basis for any creative process and we had our participants bring in letters, certificates, photographs, collected objects, notes and newspaper articles.

Through Anuja’s brilliantly devised series of exercises, documents were shared, text was read in the deconstruction of this very exciting young form of theatre in India. There was much debate about what is “real” and what’s “not real” and does it matter in the telling of a story and especially in the context of documentary theatre, where “verifiable documents” are used in the telling of the story. The voice of the author, the voice of the audience and the voice of verifiable evidence.

We took the tools of documentary theatre and made some incredibly moving, performative pieces, across the disciplines of the visual arts, theatre and performance, audio, video and text.

A big thanks to our fabulous participants who trusted and so willingly gave their energy to the group, each one is a special person! And a big thank you to the one and only Anuja Ghosalkar for pushing us to tease the “little stories” out of our documentary material. She simultaneously pushes the boundaries of traditional theatre as well as her own work, with this series of Documentary Theatre workshops.

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