Custom Made

Saturday, 3 October 2020 | 7pm to 8.30pm IST

Key Questions

  • How have arts practices shaped, supported or subverted social consciousness and community structures?
  • What new customs do we need to imagine to come together again?


Joshua Pether | Australia 

Kapila Venu | India 

Sunil Shanbag | India 

Every occasion to gather is defined by accepted customs, modes of behaviour, social norms, and interactions that vary widely with context and community. These rituals of meeting may be relevant, may be the baggage of habit, or may be resonant of social power structures. Coming together for performance is no different: every performance experience proffers its own conventions of human behaviour. During this global flashpoint it is perhaps time to hold up our rituals to the light, reframe their value for today, and accordingly retain or discard them.

When are rituals enabling, when do they become dead weight? What gives them value? What are new customs we need to imagine? How can we learn to come together again? How have arts practices shaped, supported or subverted social consciousness and community structures?


Joshua Pether

Joshua Pether is of Kalkadoon heritage but lives and works on Noongar country in Western Australia. He is an experimental performance artist, dancer and choreographer of movement, temporary ritual and imagined realities. His practice is influenced by his two cultural histories—indigeneity and disability and the hybridization of the two with particular interest in the aesthetics of the disabled body and also of the colonized body. His work and practice have been supported through the Australia Council and DLGSC (local) funding. As an independent artist he has had work shown in Perth, Melbourne, Brisbane, Sydney and New York and has performed in festivals and events such as the Undercover Artist Festival, Yirramboi Festival, Next Wave, APAM 2018, Short Cuts, MoveMe Festival, SuperCell Festival of Contemporary Dance In situ and The First Nations Dialogues in New York. He is the creator of two solo works, Monster and Jupiter Orbiting.

Kapila Venu

Kapila Venu_Square

A gifted performer honed by years of training under the doyen of Kutiyattam, late Guru Ammannur Madhava Chakyar and her father, Kutiyattam exponent, G Venu, Kapila Venu is a devoted practitioner of Kutiyattam. Kapila has also trained under Kutiyattam exponents Usha Nangiar, Kitangur S. N. Rama Chakyar and Ammannur Kuttan Chakyar. She took to the stage at a young age, travelling and performing with her Gurus. She has been performing Kutiyattam and Nangiar Koothu both as a soloist and with the ensembles at Natanakairali and Ammanur Gurukulam since 1997.
Being a practitioner of an ancient ritual theatre, Kapila firmly believes in continuously evolving technically, spiritually, philosophically and politically, questioning and reinventing every character and story she plays. She strives to maintain the technical purity and essence of the art form whilst making space for innovation and creativity.
Her work under the guidance of renowned Japanese farmer/avant-garde dancer Min Tanaka in Japan from 2005 to 2010 has been one of the most significant influences in her personal and performance life.
Kapila has a deep interest in the study, revival and rejuvenation of several other traditional art forms of Kerala including puppetry and folk theatre and is the present director of Natanakairali – Research, Training and Performing Centre for Traditional Arts founded by G Venu in 1975. She is a recipient of the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar from the Sangeet Natak Academy.

Sunil Shanbag

Sunil Shanbag is a Mumbai based theatre director and producer. He is the co-founder and artistic director of Theatre Arpana, and Tamaasha Theatre. Over the past 35 years, Sunil’s work spans across themes and issues that concern modern Indian society, across class, caste, gender and other inequalities. Key productions include Cotton 56, Polyester 84, Sex, Morality and Censorship, Walking to the Sun, Club Desire (with the NCPA Mumbai), Stories in a Song, Loretta, and Deewar with the Prithvi Theatre, Mumbai. Internationally his work has been seen at the Shakespeare Globe in London over two seasons, and with Theatre Freiburg, Germany. Sunil is also co-founder and artistic director of Tamaasha Theatre which has been working in smaller, non-conventional spaces, and Studio Tamaasha, an intimate, curated, performing arts space deeply engaged in audience building and supporting the theatre ecology in Mumbai. Sunil was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi award for Direction (2017).