Open Call: City as Stage

A Serendipity Arts Foundation Initiative

Supported by: British Council

Course Director: Vikram Phukan

Course Advisor: Pooja Ghai, Artistic Director & Joint CEO, Tamasha

About

How can the performing arts—often involving presence, interaction, assembly—be taken out of auditoriums and amphitheatres in rarefied art districts, to engage with public spaces in the city? Performance (and its attendant kinetics) arguably has the potential to foster community or collectivity against the tide of civic planning that thwarts the potential of contact, through socially segregated spaces. How can sound, theatre, or movement think through, respond to, or reclaim what Jonathan Raban calls the “soft city” of aspiration, failure, delirium, fantasy? How can we tap into the performing arts’ potential to access certain dimensions of urban life in ways that stand to complicate and enrich our understanding of the multicultural, multi-ethnic, and multilingual fabric of Indian cities?

The course ‘City as Stage’ will present a series of interdisciplinary modules that probe the role of the performing arts in chronicling the present of India’s urban centres while reimagining and challenging the ways in which we have traditionally come together to experience, view, and consume art in the city. These online modules will serve as educational resources and practical guides for those interested in the intersection between public space and performance.

Each module will focus on a specific theme pertaining to the activation of public spaces in the city through dance, music, theatre, sound, and movement. These themes are designed to explore critical questions and challenges faced by those attempting to think through urban space with their research and/or practice.

Note: At Serendipity Arts, we strive to make pedagogy and programming as accessible as possible to individuals with varying needs and abilities and from diverse socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.

If you have any questions or require assistance with putting together your application for this course, we are happy to guide you through the process. Please feel free to reach out to us at [email protected] with the subject line “city as stage”. Individuals from marginalised communities and people with disabilities are encouraged to apply.

INTAKE

8 participants in total — 4 (South Asian diaspora) from the UK, 4 from India

Who Can Apply?

We seek applications from

  • performance makers across various disciplines
  • performing arts and/or urban studies researchers
  • architects and spatial designers
  • writers, critics, journalists
  • producers and production designers
  • coders

But we are open to practitioners and professional from all walks of life as long as they have an interest in the themes of the project and in pursuing research and/or creative work around these subjects.

Key Dates

Application Deadline: 3rd June
Commencement of Course: 1st July
Mentorship Period: 1st September – 30th November
Programme in Goa: 15th – 22nd December 2024

Timeline

Phase 1 – July, August 2024

  • A series of online modules spread over 8-10 weeks

Phase 2 – August to December 2024

  • The cohort of 8 will be split into four pairs (each pair constituting 1 UK-based participant and 1 India-based participant). These cohorts will be invited to conceptualise and pitch projects.
  • Mentorship will be provided by the Course Director and the Course Advisor through weekly check-ins and other rounds of feedback.
  • Participants will develop their project with their collaborators.

Phase 3 – December 2024

  • All participants, the Course Director, and the Course Advisor will meet in person for a 5-day engagement in Goa from 18 – 22 December 2024.
  • Tentative dates for the Goa engagement: 18-22 December, 2024.
  • Work-in-progress projects/interventions will be presented at Serendipity Arts Festival 2024.

Eligibility

For Indian applicants:

  • The applicant should be an Indian national residing in India
  • The applicant must be above 21 years of age
  • The applicant must have some demonstrable interest in arts research and/or practice, preferably in the performing arts

For UK applicants:

  • The applicant must be a member of the South Asian diaspora
  • The applicant should be residing in the UK
  • The applicant must be above 21 years of age
  • The applicant must have some demonstrable interest in arts research and/or practice, preferably in the performing arts
  • The applicant must have a valid passport.

Please note: Though Pakistani nationals are encouraged to apply and be part of the course, their travel to India in December won’t be feasible owing to government restrictions.

Why Should I Apply?
If you are applying from the UK:

Serendipity Arts Foundation is an organisation that facilitates pluralistic cultural expressions, sparking conversations around the arts while also working with artists across the South Asian region. The Foundation hosts a range of projects through the year, including institutional partnerships with artists and art organisations, educational initiatives, and outreach programmes across India.

Serendipity Arts Festival (SAF) is one of the largest multidisciplinary arts initiatives in the South Asian region, spanning the visual, performing, craft and culinary arts. Besides core content, which is conceptualized by an eminent curatorial panel, the Festival has various layers of programming, in the form of educational initiatives, workshops, special projects, and institutional engagements, addressing arts education, patronage culture, interdisciplinary discourse, inclusivity, and accessibility of the arts.

This project offers you the opportunity

  • to learn more about the creative ecosystem in India
  • to engage with creative practices and research around urban cultures and performance in India
  • to collaborate and develop a project with a diverse group of performance makers, creatives, and scholars from India
  • to visit Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa and interact with a wide pool of artists from the subcontinent and from across the world

If you are applying from India:

This project offers you the opportunity 

  • to learn more about the creative ecosystem for the UK-based South Asian diaspora
  • to engage with creative practices and research around urban cultures and performance among the UK-based South Asian diaspora
  • to collaborate and develop a project with a diverse group of performance makers, creatives, and scholars from the UK, expanding your network
  • to visit Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa and interact with a wide pool of artists from the subcontinent, the UK, and from all across the world

Course Director

Vikram Phukan

Vikram Phukan is a Mumbai-based theatre practitioner and culture journalist. His writings on theatre have appeared in publications like The Hindu, Timeout, Forbes India, Mint Lounge, International Gallerie, ArthArt, Firstpost and News9. He has served as faculty at the Drama School Mumbai, and on curatorial and grant-making committees with the Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards, the Goethe-Institut Max Mueller Bhavan, Thespo, and Serendipity Arts Festival. His theatre credits as writer and director include Those Left Behind Things, Dry Ice, and the recent promenade productions, Postcards from Colaba and Postcards from Goa. He’s the co-founder of Inqueerable, a platform for Indian queer theatre.

Course Advisor

Pooja Ghai

Pooja Ghai is Artistic Director of Tamasha and an award-winning director, actor and mentor who is a fierce advocate for giving voice to marginalised groups. She is at the forefront of leadership change and active in organisations whose ethos achieves this goal.

Pooja is Chair of Artistic Directors of the Future (ADF) and a trustee of Stage Director UK.  She won Best Director for ‘Lions and Tigers’ at the Eastern Eye Arts, Culture and Theatre Awards.

She is also a project leader and creative producer for Up Next, a takeover initiative run by ADF / Battersea Arts Centre and the Bush Theatre, designed to catapult visionary culturally diverse artists into leadership roles in the UK theatre’s industry.  Other work includes being a mentor for the Old Vic Bayliss Director Scheme, a panel judge for the James Tait Black Prize for Drama and Associate Artist for Kali Theatre.

Tamasha is a dedicated home for both emerging and established Global Majority artists. A powerhouse of new writing, talent development and digital innovation, Tamasha platforms and invests in stories that celebrate rich shared histories and cultures. Proudly both artist and audience driven, the organisation is disrupting, dismantling, and inspiring through bold and imaginative storytelling, providing a place to explore lived experiences and unique perspectives. 

Outcomes/ Deliverables

Work-in-progress projects will be showcased at Serendipity Arts Festival 2024 and may continue to evolve with a wider collaborator base post the Festival. These projects may be either creative or academic in nature, and will be allowed a longer period of time to gestate and grow into published monographs, performances, or exhibitions in 2025.

Provisions

  • Free access to the course
  • Course completion certificates
  • Flight tickets and accommodation for 5 nights for each participant (+ Course Director and Course Advisor) in December to Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa
  • Per diem for 5 days for each participant during their time in Goa

Terms and Conditions

  • This course, conducted in the online medium, will be open to Indian nationals and South Asian diaspora living in the UK
  • The course may require some amount of reading ahead of each session
  • Participants who sign up for it should be ready to commit to the whole programme and be present for every session.
  • The sessions will take place in English

FAQs

Q1. How much do I have to pay to attend this course?
A1. This is a free course and if your application is selected, you will not have to pay anything.

Q2. Do I have to be an academic to apply for this course?
A2. No. This course is open to applicants from all backgrounds, as long as they have an interest in performance and urban space.

Q3. My English is not very good. Can I still apply?
A3. You may send us your application in a language other than English.

But the primary medium of instruction for this course will be English and a major part of the readings assigned may be in English as well, so a certain level of familiarity with the language will be helpful. However, the projects that are pitched after the course may work with regional languages.

If you require any assistance with putting together your application, please reach out to us at [email protected].

Q4. Do I have to be a performing artist to apply for this course?
A4. No. This course is open to applicants from all backgrounds, as long as they have an interest in performance and urban space.

Q5. Do I have to pitch a project at the end of the course?
A5. Yes, September onwards, we would like each participant to work in a pair and develop a project ( the format is flexible).

Q6. Do I have to pay for the December visit to Goa?
A6. No, all your expenses will be covered. However, it is compulsory for you to attend the 5-day engagement in Goa in order to complete this programme.

Q7. Do I have to demonstrate research experience in order to be selected?
A7. We only need to see if you have been interested in urban space and performance in some capacity in the past. This interest does not necessarily have to be demonstrated through formal research experience.