compelled drum

[G.D. Naidu with his students and CV Raman in front of his radio factory in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India, photo credits: GD Naidu Museum, CC license applies]

theatre performance
New Delhi

concept, texts, director - Dina Boswank
director - Neel Chaudhuri and the Tadpole Repertory 
actors - Andrew Hoffland, Anushrut Ramakrishnan Agrwaal, Indranil Choudhury
theatre project space - Downstairs@S47, New Delhi, India
supported by -Tejeshwar Singh Memorial Trust, Sarai Institute, Bauhaus University Weimar, GD Naidu Museum Coimbatore

„In the experience of half a century what I have learnt in advertisement and in boasting, is very little. I could have blown my own trumpets in a better manner than some others, I have failed in doing so.“   -  G.D. Naidu, 1949

Through working with the book “Construction for Destruction” compiled by G.D. Naidu in 1940s Coimbatore (Tamil Nadu, India), conceptions of technology, creativity, and infrastructure are brought into discussion. The book comprises of letters asking for the reasons for G.D. Naidu to destroy his radio inventions, which were the first ones built in India, and, furthermore, free in thought and copyright conceptions.

How can the book and its compelling claim be read and be made audible/visible today?  As for the performance work this question is just as urgent, especially considering the great interest Naidu had in sustainable and local radio technology and the subtle use of voice amplification on-stage.

[set photography and documentataion video, Downstairs@S47, New Delhi, 2016 // graphical illustration of the performative setting //
Links to video excerpts / documentation: 
Pt.1 Machine Man 
Pt.2 Smashing Rasant  
Pt.3 Being a student
Pt.4 Compelled Drum]

For a first presentation of the performance and play at the project space Downstairs@S47 in New Delhi four scenes were developed, each using certain chapters of the book and a very specific way of contextualising sound technology:

Pt. 1  Machine Man
As part of my former PhD research, Indian historians, media researchers and artist are involved to discusss Naidu‘s strategies. 
In small meetings the letters are being read out loud, recorded and opened up to reflective interruptions. 
To begin the performance, two of those recordings are being played back.

Pt.2  Smashing Rasant
In his „Compelled Drum“ G.D. Naidu also published various newsletter articles mentioning his inventions, the subsequent troubles with officialdom and his unusual reactions to it. 
We selected especially those reporting about his famous Rasant razor; its roots in Europe and his destruction in Coimbatore, India. 

Pt.3  Being a student
A very intimate, yet respectuful letter exchange between a student, his father and GD Naidu spanning one year (1948/49) is included in the book. Only little was the text shortened by us - the raw letters are being read out to the audience with each actor representing one specific person.  

Pt.4  Compelled Drum
The climax of the performance so far is exactly this confrontation reflected within the letters. GD Naidu is not represented by one specific actor, but by each of them. Two technically different sound systems (mic&amplifier) are therefore confronting each other, allowing for two different voice amplifications (effect on distortion, feedback). 

[video documentation of chapter No.4 “compelled drum”, project space Downstairs@S47, New Delhi, 2016]