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About The Show

One chases the enemy, another chases sleep. Somewhere, one devours an entire mountain while the other slurps on custard. Together they try to make sense of what’s between the lines, and the lines start to disappear. They let go of the questions when the answers begin to appear. Elsewhere, a town awakens to a dwindling yet satisfied populace, whilst a couple lay a picnic table amidst the gunfire. At the core of Absurdism is the acknowledgement that human endeavours to find meaning are often met with a universe that remains indifferent, and the search for inherent purpose is akin to chasing a mirage in a desert of existential uncertainty. Imagine a theatrical performance where the script is written in disappearing ink, and the actors are left ad-libbing in the face of an ever-changing narrative.

 

Absurdist theatre, a genre characterized by its exploration of the irrational, illogical, and chaotic aspects of the human experience, finds unique expressions in the works of Enrique Jardiel Poncela from Spain, Fernando Arrabal, also from Spain, and Virgilio Piñera from Cuba. While these playwrights share the label of "absurdist," their individual contributions exhibit distinct nuances and cultural influences. Poncela's absurdist works often showcase a satirical and humorous exploration of societal norms and human behaviour. Kaivalya Plays’ adaptation of his play "You Have the Eyes of a Femme Fatal," delves into the absurdity of modern love, desire, and human connection. Poncela's writing is characterized by wit and a keen observation of societal absurdities, often using humour as a lens to dissect human folly. Arrabal's absurdist plays, like "Picnic on the Battlefield," take a darker and more surreal turn. This piece portrays the futility and meaninglessness of war, exploring the absurdity of conflict where soldiers fight for indistinguishable motivations. Arrabal's unique blend of absurdity and surrealism creates a heightened, dreamlike atmosphere, challenging conventional narratives and norms. Piñera, hailing from Cuba, brings a distinctly Latin American flavour to the absurdist genre.

Kaivalya Plays is staging pieces from his collection of short stories called “Cuentos Frios” (English: Cold Tales), where he navigates the complexities of identity, civil rebellion, individual-first capitalism and mental health through a piercingly neutral, almost cold narration. Piñera's works often carry a socio-political undertone, reflecting the tumultuous history of Latin America. The absurdity in his plays serves as a mirror to the region's socio-cultural struggles, blending existential questions with the collective experiences of Latin American societies. While united under the umbrella of absurdist theatre, the works of Jardiel Poncela, Arrabal, and Piñera each offer a unique perspective on the absurdities inherent in the human condition. From Poncela's humour-infused societal critiques to Arrabal's surreal and dark exploration of war, and Piñera's socio-political reflections on identity and mental health, these playwrights contribute richly diverse layers to the tapestry of absurdist theatre.

Since its inception in 2012, Kaivalya Plays has been a conduit for bringing the voices of Latin American authors to the Indian stage. ABSURDO marks their thirteenth project in this genre, a testament to our ongoing commitment to Latin American drama and literature. Collaborating with Instituto Cervantes Nueva Delhi and various embassies, they’ve adapted and staged works by prominent authors, making these narratives resonate with Indian audiences. In ABSURDO, the group employs a diverse range of artistic techniques, from traditional theatre methods to non-conventional staging. Live projections, cameras, drawing, multilayered projection fabrics, and a multilingual performance (in English, Hindi, and Spanish with subtitles) enrich the audience's experience, breaking down language barriers and emphasizing the global relevance of the absurdities explored on stage. The stories composed through the latest digital technology tools create an engaging experience that often veers away from a traditional narrative to abstract voyages into themes of violence, excess, alienation, identity and meaninglessness.

Kaivalya Plays and Instituto Cervantes Nueva Delhi invite you to an evening of absurdist storytelling based on texts from Enrique Jardiel Poncela, Fernando Arrabal and Virgilio Piñera. 

 

The running order of the evening includes: 

INTERROGATORIO from “Cuentos Frios” by Virgilio Piñera

A prisoner is confronted with a fundamental question about identity. Presented In Spanish with English and Hindi subtitles. 

YOU HAVE THE EYES OF A FEMME FATAL based on the text by Enrique Jardiel Poncela. 

What happens when an all encompassing intelligence delves into the interplay of modern love, desire and seduction? Presented In English with Spanish and Hindi subtitles. 

 

MONTAÑA from “Cuentos Frios” by Virgilio Piñera

Persistence, escape or something else entirely? Bit by bit, witness one’s attempt at a geological upheaval. Presented In Spanish with English and Hindi subtitles. 

 

मांस (Meat) from “Cuentos Frios” by Virgilio Piñera

A famine leads to a town beginning to turn to a very personal kind of sustenance. Presented in Hindi with English and Spanish subtitles. 

 

INSOMNIO from “Cuentos Frios” by Virgilio Piñera

An all too familiar state for so many, but is the escape worth the relief? Presented in Spanish with English and Hindi subtitles. 

PICNIC ON THE BATTLEFIELD based on the text by Fernando Arrabal. 

A family comes together for a lovely picnic in the middle of the battlefield. They are interrupted by an unexpected guest. Nothing unusual about that, right? Presented in English with Hindi and Spanish subtitles. 

 

The performance premiered on Monday 27th, Tuesday 28th and Wednesday 29th November 202 at Instituto Cervantes Nueva Delhi, Connaught Place. 

Free entry with prior registration. Please reserve your seats here. 

 

Directed by Varoon P. Anand and Gaurav Singh Nijjer

Performed by Dhruv Rai, Shubhra Tandon and Ramita Menon

Stage Management and Costumes by Sukriti

Production Management by Vidit Singh

Translation, Subtitles and Language Production by Kanva Chaudhary, Aatika Khan, Riddhijit Chattopadhyay, Stuti Kanoongo, Kaustubh Rajwade and others

Documentation, Illustrations and Media by Riddhijit Chattopadhyay and Kaustubh Rajwade

Light Design and Operation by Deeksha Vats

Sound and Video Operation by Vidit Singh

Voiceovers by Sukriti, Vidit Singh, Varoon P. Anand, Vidur Sehgal, Stuti Kanoongo, Riddhijit Chattopadhyay

Supported by Instituto Cervantes Nueva Delhi

 

We would like to acknowledge and thank the administrative staff and the technical team of Instituto Cervantes Nueva Delhi for their support in realising this production. 

The Pillowman by Kaivalya Plays - 5.jpg

A writer, so immersed in his fantastical writings of gruesome child murders, finds himself facing the consequences of his writings being played out in real life.  

Presented by Kaivalya Plays under license from Concord Theatricals and with support from the Instituto Cervantes Nueva Delhi and Programmes Team, Indian Habitat Centre. 

English / 120 Minutes

24 and 25 August

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About The Show
Overviw
Creative Team

Creative Team

Aatika Khan

Aatika Khan

Aatika is a fresher in theatre. She likes exploring new things and fields. That is the main reason she joined Kaivalya Plays' production Absurdo, as part of the backstage crew. She joined this production out of interest and a little bit of passion for theatre.
Gaurav Singh Nijjer

Gaurav Singh Nijjer

Gaurav Singh Nijjer (1994, New Delhi) is a theatre-maker, creative technologist and designer from New Delhi, India whose artistic works explore technology and media in live performance. He brings together his experience in design, digital cultures and data to explore new ways of engaging audiences, in the theatre, at home and elsewhere. He is one-half of the Delhi-based theatre collective Kaivalya Plays and works as a freelance artist with artist collectives in India, United Kingdom and Europe. He recently completed the German Chancellor Fellowship where he conducted a 12-month arts research project on digital theatre and hybrid performances with the Berlin-based Rimini Protokoll. Gaurav studied at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London as a Chevening Scholar. His recent artistic works include ABSURDO (2023), Mining Hate (2023), Climateprov (2023), Trust Me, It’s a Forward (2023) The Amazing Flabby Breasted Virgin & Other Sordid Tales (2022) and Lifeline 99 99 (2021). As a creative technologist, his work often brings live audio, coding, live camera and video, digital platforms, APIs, automations and other digital technologies and tools onto the stage. He has previously received the Parivartan Artistic Research grant for AI in Indian Theatre, the AI to Amplify Fellowship by Goethe Institut, the Stage Jame #4 grant by Schaubude Berlin, the Befantastic AI Arts Fellowship, C3: Creativity, Codes and Community and other grants to support his work in technology in theatre. As an arts manager, Gaurav is the General Manager at Kaivalya Plays, an Indian performing arts organization known for their work in applied improvisation and adaptation of foreign-language texts. Here, Gaurav co-created the Theatre Management Fellowship, a unique training initiative that focuses on the strategic management and creative administration of theatre. Under Kaivalya Plays, Gaurav also directed Lifeline 99 99 (2021) and Luz Negra (2020), devised Aguebao (2019) and performed in Unravel (2018). He is also the Communications & Community Manager at The Nursery Theatre, a London-based improvisational theatre company with students, performers and audiences spread out across the world. He also reviews theatre and art experiences for the UK-based platform North West End UK. As an actor and director, Gaurav is a performer and founding member of The Living Room Collective and El Clavileno, the latter being India’s only Spanish language theatre group. He previously worked at one of the oldest and most prominent cultural institutions in Delhi, the Little Theatre Group (LTG) Auditorium as a consultant, overseeing their marketing operations and curating programs for their new black box studio, The Blank Canvas. His acting credits include Yasmine Reza’s Art, Manav Kaul’s Peele Scooter Waala Aadmi, Kristo Sagor’s Threesome Without Simone and Jorge Luis Borges’ Funes The Memorious, among other work in Hindi, English, and Spanish. He has previously directed plays like Alvaro Leal’s Luz Negra, Badal Sircar’s Juloos and Footnotes, inspired by Yasmine Reza’s Art. He has performed at festivals like ReConnect (2020), Old World Theatre Festival (2019), AlmagroOFF Classical Theatre Festival (2019), Thespo (2017) and has received recognition at numerous educational institutions with the collegiate theatre society Fourth Wall Productions. As a freelance marketer, Gaurav has worked with brands like Atlan, SocialCops, Josh Talks, Parallel, FreshMenu, among others, in various capacities and occasionally offers marketing, digital and creative consulting services. He has an undergraduate degree in Management Studies from Shaheed Sukhdev College of Business Studies (SSCBS), University of Delhi with a specialization in marketing (Class of 2016).
Ramita Menon

Ramita Menon

Ramita Menon has worked extensively as a facilitator and teacher with a diverse background in improvisation, movement therapy and yoga. With a strong focus on creating safe spaces to build tolerance and empathy, Ramita hopes to engage people to hear and be heard in as many ways as possible to increase the shared understanding of human experiences and complexities. Drawing from elements of yoga , therapeutic movement, contemporary dance techniques and improvisation, Ramita has worked with diverse groups such as shelter homes, professional dancers and theatre artists, mental health professionals and universities. Her approach uses movement and theatre to foster a more forgiving environment that encourages taking risks and working as a team. Ramita has worked as a teacher of English as a foreign language in a secondary school in Spain for two years as part of a government exchange scholarship using elements of improvisation to improve communication within her students. Working with Kaivalya Plays, Ramita has been the manager for the online improv to teach Spanish program conducting various online sessions and training and leading a group of facilitators. Further, she has been a facilitator in the online improv to teach hindi course at Vanderbilt university. She has also facilitated other workshops in improvisation and leadership through movement as a part of Kaivalya Plays. She has also successfully performed in and choreographed staged productions in multiple languages. Ramita has had the privilege of working with a diverse range of clients, including organisations such as Attakkalari Centre for Movement Arts, CMTAI (Creative Movement Therapy Association of India), Kaivalya Plays, the Vedica Scholars, Instituto Cervantes, Embassy of Argentina, and Vanderbilt University. In addition to her work in arts, Ramita is currently working as a freelance Spanish teacher at the Spanish cultural centre in New Delhi and continues to research the limits of applied improvisation in this setting. This opportunity gives her a chance everyday to connect with, inspire and learn from her students who come from diverse backgrounds and walks of life with a shared goal and dream.
Stuti Kanoongo

Stuti Kanoongo

Stuti is a lifestyle product and graphic designer, and is now focusing on a career in design management. She did her graduation in Fashion and Lifestyle Accessory Design from the National Institute of Fashion Technology, Mumbai in 2018 and has been working in the design industry since. Stuti graduated from the inaugural batch of the Theatre Management Fellowship by Kaivalya Plays and worked at Kaivalya Plays as Communications Manager from September 2020 to mid-2021.
Vidur Sehgal

Vidur Sehgal

Vidur Sehgal is an actor and student who is currently pursuing a degree in business economics at University of Delhi. He has been involved in the Delhi theatre circuit for the last 3 years, having worked in various capacities as an actor, sound designer and stage manager for Kaivalya Plays, El Clavileño, QTP Entertainment and Barefoot Theatre.
Deeksha Vats

Deeksha Vats

Deeksha lives in Delhi and does everything theatre. She tries. She works with the Serendipity Arts Foundation during the day, and writes, designs lights, performs, reads, and writes a little more at all other times of the day. Well, at least she tries.
Kanva Chaudhary

Kanva Chaudhary

Kanva is a spanish student , active person , quick learner. He is also studying psycholgy from the University of Delhi.
Riddhijit Chattopadhyay

Riddhijit Chattopadhyay

Riddhijit is a Producer, Director, Actor, Documentary Filmmaker and Voice-over Artist. He is presently working with Banyan Infomedia as an Assistant Producer (2021 -). As a theatre artist, he has been associated with Jana Natya Manch since 2021. Theatre has been a part of his life since he was 10-11 years old. Riddhijit is also an amateur filmmaker. Last year, he made a documentary about the 2022 Shadipur Natak Utsav and about how kids play an important role in carrying theatre forward. Other than that he has worked as an Assistant Director and Filmmaker for various short films.
Sukriti

Sukriti

sukriti is a performance studies scholar from ambedkar university delhi. she is an academician, a theatre actor and director, an arts educator and facilitator, a freelance artist, a poet and a freestyle dancer, constantly trying to detangle the blurred lines of her identity and the society through art.
Dhruv Rai

Dhruv Rai

Dhruv is a multidisciplinary artist and an actor. He enjoys cooking, running and cleaning dishes. He is currently practicing Aikido (Japanese martial arts).
Kaustubh Rajwade

Kaustubh Rajwade

Kaustubh Rajwade has worked extensively as a facilitator and teacher with a diverse background in Environmental research, Education, Spanish interpretation-translation and Improvisation. Kaustubh focuses on creating immersive learning environments focussed on critical thinking and dialogue. Using his expertise in the field of environment,interpretation and education, Kaustubh has worked with diverse groups such as environmental NGOs, Spanish institutes, multinational companies and universities. His approach engages learners to develop creative solutions in different situations. Kaustubh has worked as a teacher of English as a foreign language in a primary and secondary school in Spain for two years as part of a government exchange scholarship using elements of improvisation to improve communication within his students. Working with Kaivalya Plays, Kaustubh has attended improvisation courses and facilitated online spanish improv sessions. Furthermore, he has been a visiting faculty for Environmental Sciences at various organisations. His keen interest in environmental issues and work in rural Maharashtra have helped build his ability to connect with and be approachable for people from all social backgrounds. Kaustubh has had the privilege of working with a diverse range of clients, including organisations such as ThyssenKrupp Elevators,Matrici S.Coop, Tata Motors, Bajaj Auto, IBM Jnana Prabodhini Prashala, College of Engineering, Pune, School of Fashion Technology,Pune, Instituto Hispania and Instituto Cervantes. Kaustubh is currently working as a freelance teacher at the Spanish Embassy’s cultural wing, Instituto Cervantes, New Delhi where he innovates new methods of teaching and learning with a practical and proactive approach.
Shubhra Tandon

Shubhra Tandon

Shubhra is on her journey to become a performing artist with her interests in theatre, Kathak and singing. She was a part of Abhivyakti—the dramatics society of Indraprastha College for Women, Delhi University between 2001 and 2003. She acted in several college productions that used techniques and methodologies from the genre of third theatre. These productions were adaptations from stories of Mahasweta Devi’s Budhan, Vishakhadatta’s Mudrarakshasa and Gulzar’s Khauf often interspersed with poetry from Paash, Dhoomil, Faiz Ahmad Faiz and Ghalib. Later, she also worked in a solo production highlighting the challenges of fisherwomen in Kerala, which was an adaptation from Matsyaganddhi written by Malayalam playwright M. Sajitha. Shubhra is now performing in her first professional theatre production with Kaivalya Plays. She is also learning Kathak and has given several Kathak performances since the beginning of 2023. She recently scored a first division in Kathak from Prayag Sangeet Samiti Allahabad in the first year examination, and is also pursuing her passion for singing. Shubhra is currently working as a freelance business content writer to keep her creative self alive.
Vidit Singh

Vidit Singh

Vidit Singh is a writer, director and actor. He graduated from Ashoka University with a degree in Literature and a minor in Creative Writing and Media Studies. He enjoys working across the medium of film and theatre, often attempting to blend the practices of both. He is also a literary translator and takes a keen interest in the craft of adaptation, having directed two Indian renditions of Shakespeare’s plays in college. Currently, he is developing a feature-film script and exploring new practices of theatre.
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About Kaivalya Plays

 

Kaivalya Plays is a performing arts and production company led by Varoon P. Anand as its Artistic Director and Gaurav Singh Nijjer as its General Manager. Since 2012, they have worked consistently, been very noisy, and built transcultural associations across India and the world. Their artistic work includes original, devised theatre performance which are multilingual, interactive and hybrid, use technology and media on stage as well as are built using techniques of improvisational, documentary and physical theatre. Their training and educational programs span drama and performance, design, production, arts management and applied improvisation to areas like mental health, language learning, business skills and others. They’ve undertaken arts research projects such as the Safety in the Performing Arts in India (www.arts-safety.org) supported by the India Foundation for the Arts (IFA), amongst others. They have received multiple artistic commissions and grants, such as EU MediaFutures Artist for Media grant, Goethe Institut’s Refunction and Gender Bender grants, amongst others. Their recent artistic work includes ABSURDO (2023), Mining Hate (2023), Ollantay (2022), Lifeline 99 99 (2021), Luz Negra (2020) How To Disappear Completely and Never be Found (2020), Unravel (2019), amongst others. Most recently, they received the Creativity Pioneers Fund 2023 from the Moleskine Foundation.

 

Since 2012, Kaivalya Plays has brought works by many Latin American authors to the Indian stage, being the first team from India to perform at the prestigious Classical Theatre Festival in Almagro, Spain. They have frequently collaborated with institutions like Instituto Cervantes Nueva Delhi and the Embassies of Argentina, Spain, Ecuador and Peru in India. They have adapted and staged texts by Julio Cortazar (Goodbye Robinson), Jorge Luis Borges (El Aleph, Blue Tigers, The Sand Book, Funes the Memorious), Pablo Palacio (A Man Kicked To Death), Alvaro Desleal (Luz Negra) and Griselda Gambaro (Say Yes) and ancient Incan epic Ollantay. ABSURDO is their thirteenth project with roots in Latinamerican drama and literature and marks the group’s 10 years of collaboration with the Instituto Cervantes Nueva Delhi.

For more information, visit www.kaivalyaplays.org

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About Instituto Cervantes Nueva Delhi

 

The Instituto Cervantes is a public institution founded in 1991 by the Government of Spain, with the aim of promoting Spanish language teaching, and fostering knowledge of Spanish and Hispanic American culture. Currently, the Institute has 78 centers located in 44 countries. Its main headquarters are in Madrid and in Alcalá de Henares, the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes.
 

Given that Spanish is the 2nd most widely-used language for international communication in areas such as finance, culture and science, in addition to being a language that facilitates job opportunities, the Instituto Cervantes is the reference for quality in the promotion and dissemination of Spanish-speaking culture.

Our website offers all the language-related issues requested by students as well as by people connected with our language.
 

Hence, their objectives and purposes are as follows:

  • To organize general and special Spanish courses, as well as courses in Spain’s co-official languages.

  • To organize the exams for the Diploma in Spanish as a Foreign Language (Diploma de Español como Lengua Extranjera: DELE), as well as to issue official certificates and diplomas on behalf of the Ministry of Education and Professional Training.

  • To be up-to-date in our teaching methods and in the training of professors.

  • To support the work done by Hispanists.

  • To participate in programs that aim to promote the Spanish language.

  • To carry out cultural promotion activities in collaboration with other Spanish and Hispanic American organizations, as well as with host country organizations.

  • To place libraries equipped with the latest technology, at the disposal of the public.

Address by Dr. Óscar Pujol Riembau, Director of Instituto Cervantes Nueva Delhi, at the premiere of ABSURDO on Monday 27th November 2023

The work of the Instituto Cervantes is guided by representatives of the scholarly, cultural and literary communities of Spain and Hispanic America. In New Delhi, the Institute collaborates with museums, galleries, theaters, publishers, and other Indian cultural institutions, as well as institutions from Spain and Latin America.

The Instituto Cervantes opened its doors in New Delhi in 2007 and since then thousands of students have learnt Spanish at its facilities, in person, as well as through videoconferences. Likewise, it has been an important space in the social and cultural life of New Delhi, offering  a wide variety of exhibitions, concerts, talks, films, etc.

The center also has one of the main Spanish libraries in the city, the Juan Ramón Jiménez Library, which offers a wide collection of literature, audiovisual material and films in Spanish. In addition, it has a resource center for learning and teaching Spanish as a second language.

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