We live in turbulent times. The Indian playwright - and Indian playwriting - in general is truly in danger of extinction; young writers, tempted by the lucre of television and the lure of cinema, are evading theatre altogether. The few that have stuck to their passion are continually concerned that their plays will die unperformed on dusty bookshelves. So how do young playwrights survive and keep their focus? What impels them to keep honing their drafts and continue working on characters? How do they keep their stories, let alone their dreams, alive?
Rage watches over the journeys of young playwright with concern and provides a platform to support their dream. Writers’ Bloc was conceived as a unique initiative to train and discover exciting new playwrights to Indian audiences and is collaboration between the British Council, JSW and Rage.The process was simple. A question was asked, Can you write drama? The answer was a resounding ‘yes’! The next step was to ask writers to send us their plays – full length, one act- or even a scene. The first time they tried it was in 2004, then 2007 then 2012 and now the stage is set for Writers Bloc 4 and the year is 2016.
Every time, scripts poured in from all over India in all languages - English, Hindi, Marathi, etc. which were short listed to twelve of the most promising writers. Once this is done, the writers are invited to the idyllic Jindal guesthouse in remote Vasind, for a series of workshops to interact with some of the finest theatre professionals from the Royal Court – April de Angelis, Carl Miller, Elyse Dodgson, Phyllida Lloyd, Ramin Gray, Richard Twyman and Vivienne Franzmann.
The participants get an opportunity to nourish their ideas into a full length scripts over the span of a year, resulting in a festival of the performance of all the plays. Writers’ Bloc has since 2002 introduced 54 playwrights and 40 new scripts, including three more chosen for the book and staged by various theatre groups and institutions in India and abroad.