This Women’s Day, we at TPPL decided to profile our behind-the-scenes women extraordinaire so that the world can know and appreciate, like we do each day, the great work they do to make Theatre Professionals the organization that it is.
As the founder-director of TPPL, Tasneem is pretty much the backbone of everything that happens at the Young People’s Theatre Programme. She takes on wary school-board members and precocious drama-room children with equal elan and is always the go-to person for seemingly insolvable problems. She came aboard in a leadership role at Theatre Professionals because she saw the potential and need for Drama in Education when the idea was brought to her 8 years ago and has never looked back since.
One of her fondest memories at the organization is when she sat up all night with an Annual Days Team in Nanded to ensure that sets for The Jungle Book, which had been abandoned by the craftsmen, would be finished in time for the show the next day.
What would we do without Pankti! It’s a thought that occurs often to everyone who works out of the Theatre Professionals office at Charni Road. As Company Manager, Pankti is the ace up our sleeve for streamlining any process, no matter how many layers of work are involved. Pankti controls the back-end of our work like a boss and is one heck of a positive, practical force to have on your side. She has been with the company for more than 4 years and her recruitment involved a drama workshop in true TPPL style. Personally invested in all the people we bring drama to, Pankti’s proudest moments are when she saw the first batch graduate from The Drama School, Mumbai and when she saw the children of a TPPL school set the stage afire with three years worth of drama training.
With more than a decade of theatre-teaching experience in her tool-kit, Kalyani could very well be the single biggest source of drama at Theatre Professionals! She’s been with us for 4 years and joining TPPL was like a giving her teaching practice a much-needed reboot.
Kalyani mentors our team of 20 teachers in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi and then finds time to direct some amazing experimental theatre. When working at a BMC school some years back, a 14-year old from her class was asked to leave school due to continual behaviour issues. The child brazenly replied that they could kick him out of school, but he’d still come for drama class every week. Kalyani put herself out on a limb and cast the child as the lead in a play the children performed at the Kala Ghoda Arts Festival. The transformation her decision brought to the child is something teachers at the school still talk about.
Straight-forward, laconic and super-efficient, Priti is the Programme Head at The Drama School, Mumbai. Though trained as a lawyer, Priti moved in to the arts sector with gusto to take the challenges faced by the industry and turn them in to opportunities. In her nearly 3 years with DSM, she has made it the premier institution in Mumbai that offers theatre-training to enrolled students, professional theatremakers and even hobbyists. Her no-nonsense approach to work makes her an ideal mentor and manager for the young students, faculty and all the rest of us miscreants.
We work with a lot of women at Theatre Professionals. And do our best to be an eco-system, so that they can balance their work, dreams and everything else that society expects women to achieve. The four women whose stories we’ve shared make the dreams of many come true, ensuring that there’s oil in the right places to keep the gears of our organization whirring. But though we don’t name them, we raise our glasses and take a moment to wish the many women who teach for YPTP, the faculty at DSM, the India Theatre Programme managers and every woman who contributes her ideas and dreams to the Theatre Professionals: