Backstage: A Theatre Appreciation Workshop

January 25 | 9:30AM - January 26 | 4:00PM
The Royal Opera House, Mumbai
2500 onwards
Sorry, this show is already over but head here for other fun events!


Royal Opera House, Mumbai and Avid Learning present Backstage: A Theatre Appreciation Workshop led by Playwright, Screenwriter, Film-Maker and Stage Director Mahesh Dattani.


The description of the workshop is as below:


This two-day workshop will focus on building appreciation for the diverse aspects of Theatre through understanding the various distinctive processes involved such as Writing, Directing, Acting and Producing. This workshop will also feature a number of professionals from the dramatic fraternity who will instruct and share insights on their specific area of expertise. 


Instructors from various sub-disciplines of the dramatic arts will be joining Mahesh during the course of the two insightful days from whom participants will learn processes of creating exceptional theatre.


The workshop will touch upon writing for performance, understanding plot and structure, scenarios and scriptwriting formats with Mahesh. It will also examine acting techniques, the changing role of the director, telling stories through scenography and the functions and nuances of production: music, lighting & set design, costuming. Practical aspects of marketing, administration, venue & stage management will also be touched upon.


On the first day, Writing, Acting & Physical Theatre and Directing will be covered. Mahesh will set the tone of the workshop and speak about the beginnings of theatre- writing and the role of the playwright, the shift from oracle to spectacle and how words on a page can translate into visual elements and physical action. This session will also include Theatre Director, Writer and Actor Sheena Khalid and Theatre and Film Actor Joy Sengupta who willexamine some of the finer points of physical theatre through dramatized readings and demonstrations before having participants improvise scenes of their own. Mahesh will also elucidate the Director’s process and how it differs from stage to screen. 


On day two, the world behind the stage and beyond will open up for participants as they learn about Production Elements, Artistic Development and MarketingFounder & Artistic Director – Readings in the Shed Nikhil Kataraand Creative Editor – Readings in the Shed Himali Kothari will speak about their work with non-fiction literature within the context of a theatre production. Costume Designer Sonal Kharade will speak on costuming for the stage. To close the workshop on a high note- participants will have exclusive access to the workings of a live production that is being put up on the Opera House stage that very evening!


Workshop Highlights:

·       Writing techniques for the stage 

·       Rhythm, tempo and tension

·       Decoding Dramaturgy

·       An actor's instrument and the prerequisites for a good stage actor

·       Mise-en-scene: crafting worlds onstage

·       Taking care of Business: Post-production, theatre administration and Marketing   

·       Exclusive backstage access to a live play production at the venue

Whether you are a student, an avid theatregoer, a playwright or connoisseur, join us to expand your understanding and enjoyment of the theatrical arts, by immersing yourself into the field’s critical, aesthetic, and practical aspects.


Where:  Royal Opera House, Mama Parmanand Marg, Mumbai – 400 004

When:  Saturday, 25th January 2020 & Sunday, 26th January 2020; 9:30AM – 4:00PM



About the Instructors


Mahesh Dattani is a playwright, stage director, screen writer and filmmaker. In 1998 Mahesh Dattani won the prestigious central Sahitya Akademi Award for his book Final Solutions and Other Plays, the highest award for a literary work in the country. Today his plays are produced in all the major cities of India. His works have been produced in cities outside the country as well including London, Leicester, New York, Washington DC, Sydney, Colombo, Toronto and Dubai. Some of his plays have been translated and performed in Hindi, Gujarati, German, Japanese, Nepali, Odiya and Kannada. His plays are on the syllabus of several Indian and foreign universities and schools. His film Mango Souffle (writer and director) was shown in several international film festivals all over the world and was adjudged best motion picture at the Barcelona Gay and Lesbian Film Festival 2003. The film was also selected by the London Gay and Lesbian Film Festival for a 28 theatre screening across the UK. His film Morning Raga (writer and director) had its international premier at the Cairo Film Festival in December and he won the award for best artistic contribution. The script has been archived by The Academy of Motion Pictures, USA. Where Did I Leave My Purdah and Gauhar are his most recent works as a playwright, both directed by Lillete Dubey of The PrimeTime Theatre Company, Mumbai. Most recently, he directed his play Where Did I Leave My Purdah?  on film for Zee5 Productions. His other directorial credits include adaptations of Lorca's Yerma and Blood Wedding. He also directed Tagore's Chokher Bali for Barnard College, Columbia University, USA. Currently he is working on one new play as writer and one as a director. He is also the co-founder and Artistic Director of Playpen Performing Arts Trust, Mumbai.


Sheena Khalid is a theatre director, writer and actor based in Mumbai. She is a founding member of the theatre company, Patchworks Ensemble. She has trained in Physical Theatre at the London International School of Performing Arts. At LISPA she was a scholarship student for the Advanced Course. With Patchworks, she has co-directed and co-devised the shows, Ila, The Gentlemen’s Club AKA Tape, Fly By Night, and Shikaar. Ila is based on a lesser-known myth in the Indian epic texts called ‘Puranas’, about a king whose gender waxes and wanes in accordance to the moon. In 2016, Ila won the Laadli Award for Gender Sensitivity. Gentlemen’s Club AKA Tape is a unique cabaret-style theatre performance about the lives of various drag kings (a fairly unknown and unseen performance style in India). Both Ila and The Gentlemen’s Club have travelled to several prestigious theatre festivals around the country including the NSD Theatre Festival, Hindu Metroplus Theatre Festival, NCPA Centre Stage, and Ranga Shankara Theatre Festival, amongst others. Sheena is also producer and performer in Patchworks Ensemble’s third creation, Fly by Night, based on the phenomenon of “evaporating people” in Japan. Her latest production, Shikaar opened in August of 2019 and will have an extended run in November of this same year. Produced by Gaysi Family, Sheena has also directed the show Pinky Promise for their 10-year anniversary celebration. She was a performer and writer on the show Where I Stand curated by the G5A Foundation for Contemporary Culture and The Scottish Storytelling Centre, Edinburgh. The show premiered in 2018 at The G5A Foundation, Mumbai and then travelled to The Scottish Storytelling Centre in Edinburgh. After the show, she was invited to conduct a Master Class with the students of the Master’s Script Writing course at the University of Glasgow. Apart from this, Sheena is also a drama facilitator at the Drama School Mumbai (DSM) where she teaches improvisation and devising. She is also the strand head of the Theatre Making Laboratory at the DSM. Sheena has spent a great deal of time with co-director Puja Sarup exploring ideas of solo storytelling. Together they have developed modules which they now take into classrooms and offices around Mumbai. She has conducted training with Axis Bank, Piramal, Kotak Mahindra Bank, BNP Paribas, HUL, and S.P Jain School of Global Management. She has created independent workshop modules for working professional and non-actors. She has been associated with Vice Media as a host of their Vice Talks Films.


Joy Sengupta


As a writer Nikhil Katara initiated his journey in the year 2011, with his own production titled “The Unveiling”, a science fiction drama. It won much appreciation for its scientism and philosophical themes. The play opened at the ‘Kala Ghoda Arts Festival’ and had an initial run of ten shows. To strengthen critical thinking, he studied a Masters in Arts program in Philosophy at the Mumbai university with optionals in Kant, Greek Hellinistic Philosophy, Feminism, Logic and Existentialism. He also worked at Entertainment Bay, where he wrote a short play for ‘Pidilite’ that traveled to Delhi and Indore. He participated in the “Hard Places” young writers’ workshop by Rage productions where his play “In The Moment” won a critique by Mercury theatre (London) director Dave Norton. He conducts a reading club where writers, philosophers and directors in the city of Mumbai critique contemporary, original and classic plays on a weekly basis. He has written book reviews and opinion articles in the One India One People magazine and is also working on his first novel. He was associated with the Free Press Journal for a few years during which he wrote book reviews for the newspaper. He wrote the play “Yatagarasu” which opened at the Prithvi theatre in June 2016 and then traveled to Chennai and Bengaluru for the ‘Hindu Fest’. He also is a consultant facilitator at J’s Academy, a novel performing arts institute for young performers. He has worked with the Indian Navy on Navy Night 2019, and has recently collaborated with the Playpen performing arts trust to bring to the stage letters written by Subhas Chandra Bose and Sarat Chandra Bose during the Indian Independence Struggle. He has directed 18 performances of Readings in the Shed from its inception in April 2018.

After completing her MA in Advertising & Marketing from University of Leeds (UK) in 2001, Himali Kothari returned to India and worked as a freelance marketing consultant for a brief period. A just-for-fun enrolment in a Creative Writing Workshop reacquainted her with her childhood hobby of writing and propelled her into writing as a full-time profession. She has written on travel, business & finance, food, lifeatyle, design & architecture and general interest topics for print magazines and online portals. She has also donned the role of researcher and creative editor for non-fiction books. When she is not writing, she is talking about it in her creative writing workshop at Xavier’s Institute of Communication, Mumbai. She has developed a Writing Skills Lab for educational and corporate organisations to enable them to develop writing as a core skill amongst their personnel. What she treasures most about writing, is the opportunity to express herself without any interruptions.

She has recently collaborated with the Playpen performing arts trust to bring to the stage letters written by Subhas Chandra Bose and Sarat Chandra Bose during the Indian Independence Struggle.


Sonal Kharade is a passionate and innovative costume designer who has worked in over 50 productions including films, commercials, television shows, web series and dance productions. Sonal, has gained her expertise working over 8 years designing costumes for actors, dancers, theatre personalities. She is known for her grounded sense of aesthetics, thoughtfully applied across a diverse spectrum, her on-ground network and prompt implementation. This makes her a rare combination of adventurous and experimental but also a solid, reliable team leader. The New York Times described the ‘blood-red anarkali’ designed by Sonal and worn by Kathak dancer Sanjukta Wagh  as "the most ravishing outfit of evening"  at The Battery Dance Festival held in New York in 2015. Sonal has successfully executed challenging projects like the National Award-winning film produced by Priyanka Chopra ‘Ventilator’ where she designed costumes for all 120 characters featured in the film. She has long standing collaboration with the Drama School, Mumbai and the Beej Foundation for performing arts for their annual performances.



About Partners


Royal Opera House, Mumbai is widely touted as Mumbai’s Cultural Crown Jewel and India’s only surviving Opera House. The original idea for the space was conceived of in 1908, inaugurated in 1911 by King George V, and eventually completed in 1916. The design incorporated a blend of European and Indian detailing. The space became a cinema in later years before falling into disrepair and shutting by the 1990s. Fittingly, the space has been owned by the Royal Family of Gondal since 1952 and was eventually restored by conservation architect, Abha Narain Lambah under the leadership of His Highness, Maharaja Shri Jyotendrasinhji of Gondal. The Royal Opera House Mumbai, now one of the last remaining Baroque structures in the city, reopened after 23 years in October 2016. The building was included on the 2012 World Monuments Watch to raise awareness about its history and significance, and support preservation efforts. The building has since been recognized with an Award of Merit in the 2017 UNESCO Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation. The restored facilities feature a 575-seater 3-level auditorium with an orchestra pit and state of the art technological upgradations, including acoustics, stagecraft, lighting and air-conditioning, alongside retaining the old world charm of the proscenium stage, the royal boxes and the magnificent regal chandeliers. Some more enhancements to the venue include a motorized screen, co-axial ceiling speaker system, Four-zone volume control and all round wifi access. Today, it stands as a key performance and creative hub in the city’s cultural landscape, while being a premier heritage landmark. Facebook: MumbaiOpera Twitter: @MumbaiOpera Instagram: @mumbaiopera


Avid Learning, the cultural philanthropy arm of the Essar Group founded in 2009 has, over the past decade, grown into one of Mumbai’s leading public programming platforms and is firmly entrenched in the country’s wider cultural ecosystem. Over the years, AVID has gained a reputation for curating thought provoking, innovative and path-breaking content that is intellectually and creatively stimulating and engages with a variety of topical subjects and trends. Our thoughtfully curated and diverse events embrace the spirit of collaboration to bring together the best of Indian and international writers, artists, intellectuals, cultural experts, policymakers and industry leaders across Visual Art, Literature, Culture and Heritage, Education, Design & Technology and the Performing Arts through engaging and dynamic formats like panel discussions, workshops & master classes, roundtables, lecture demonstrations, festival platforms, symposiums & conferences, multidisciplinary performances and walkthroughs. We seek to democratize the arts, create new audiences, and deepen engagement by providing a platform that gives equal access and opportunity to new learners, fresh voices and nascent minds in order to nurture future stakeholders for the creative community in India. To date, AVID has conducted over 1150 programs and connected with more than 140,000 individuals, a widely eclectic group of life-long learners including students, patrons, practitioners, influencers, thought leaders and cultural & creative enthusiasts in Mumbai, Delhi, Jaipur, Bangalore, Goa and Gujarat. We have also made our mark internationally, with events and collaborations in Dubai and New York. We regularly collaborate and partner with institutions, organisations and initiatives like the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), one of the apex bodies that impact cultural policy and the creative sector as a whole. We have been at the helm of programming at the Royal Opera House, Mumbai India’s only surviving Opera House since its reopening in 2016. We believe in the importance of arts for social change and we regularly offer our support and platforms for Social Advocacy. Thanks to a dedicated and innovative team, as well as a growing and evolving community of learners, AVID continues to give truth to the belief that Learning Never Stops! To keep updated and attend our events, like us on, follow us on and Instagram:@avidlearning or log onto


The Royal Opera House, Mumbai

Mathew Rd, Charni Road East, Opera House, Girgaon, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400004


Terms & Conditions

Sorry, this show is already over but head here for other fun events!