Training & Workshops
The flagship training programme of BLT has been the annual Summer
Project on Theatre, popularly known as SPOT.
SPOT is the only world class training workshop in Bangalore that is also absolutely free, a reflection of BLT’s commitment to the promotion of the dramatic arts. The workshop incorporates the best-in-class training methods, and has a strong base in the behavioural sciences. Over the years SPOT has also included a Trainer-Training programme for wider dissemination of theatre training.
Back to the beginning…
Our first training programmes were conducted soon after inception in the early sixties by two of our founders, Scott and Margaret Tod. (Our very first programme was on systematic play production and the second was on voice and speech development.) Those programmes—and the many that have followed—carry the central philosophy of the Little Theatre movement: pride in amateur, non-profit status combined with professionalism in drama activity.
Scientific underpinnings to theatre training
In the mid-seventies Vijay Padaki attended an intensive workshop on theatre training methods conducted by a respected trainer-director based in New York who was associated with the Stella Adler studio.
To a psychologist constantly seeking reliable methodology in behavioural / social change, the scientific underpinnings to theatre training made a great deal of sense. This was very different from “workshops” (a great proliferation now) in which people play party games, have fun, tell themselves that it is somehow all about doing theatre—but at the end of the day remain unchanged in their skill sets.
Vijay immediately recognised the relevance sound training methodology made to the Little Theatre movement: it led to capacity building in the theatre movement. This appeared so much more significant in the Indian socio-economic context, with little social investment in the theatre and little knowledge of its vast potential.
In the summer of 1979, BLT mounted a prototype programme in Bangalore: in-house and open to all who wished to re-examine ideas about themselves as theatre persons. It was spread over six Sundays. The basic pattern was set—all-day training sessions on Sundays; work on a production during the week. A thorough review at the end threw up suggestions for refinements.
Version 2 of the programme was mounted in the summer of 1980. It was also the time when BLT had taken up the task of adaptations and translations from Indian languages in a serious way. (The start of the Bangalore identity in writing for the theatre!) The 1980 programme was important because it helped converge our search for identity with the search for methodology for capacity building. The participants in the first two programmes form a VIP list in Bangalore today!
Version 3: SPOT…
In 1988 the interest in training had grown sufficiently for BLT to work on major revisions in the programme It was also the time when BLT was attracting a large number of young people from colleges in a fresh membership base. A Version 3— Summer Project on Theatre or SPOT— was introduced. SPOT has grown to be our flagship training programme today.
…leading to Trainer-training programmes
BLT then decided to work towards a multiplier effect in outreach activity. We mounted trainer-training programmes. There were only two qualifications to train as a trainer:
Starting in the mid-90s, the SPOT platform has turned out about a dozen trained trainers.
Feedback on our efforts
Over the years BLT has created valuable friendships with theatre personalities and institutions seriously interested in theatre development and outreach activity. Many of these are located in the USA and UK. The consistent feedback we have received about our training activity has
been on three main counts. The feedback we receive is that they have never seen:
We have obviously done something right! Something of which we can be justifiably proud.
As to the future…
With the creation of the Academy of Theatre Arts we can expect a greater variety of training courses and workshops in the future.