‘How to be a Fig?’ project has brought together people from diverse backgrounds with a common thread that connects them all – their love for trees. Age seems to be no barrier for the participants who are in their 20’s to 50’s. This eclectic bunch of individuals belong to professions ranging from science to cycling and art to engineering. While a few are trained in some form of dance for most of them, it will be a new experience moving on stage. All the participants have keen interest to explore the idea of communicating science through movement and have been training to perform for the past two months.
Read on to learn more about them.
Abhisheka is a wildlife researcher by profession and a trained visual and performing artist. Nature has been an inseparable part of her life since her childhood. While she prefers the company of trees and animals to humans, she finds it easier to express through the medium of art than through words. For years, Abhisheka has lived in close proximity with animals, nursing and caring for injured and abandoned urban wildlife; worked in wild areas in different regions of the country studying bird and has spent time in remote villages teaching the locals to appreciate and value their natural environment.
Akhshay is an engineer turned Theatre Performer, Director & Writer; engaged with inter-disciplinary collaborations, performance practices and traditional & contemporary Art. He is an alumni of Avante Grante Theatre company, SITI Company, New York. Akhshay is a practitioner of Suzuki Method of Actor training and Practice of Viewpoints, along side his explorations in Movement Arts and other practices of body. His theatre engagement began with Indian Ensemble, Bangalore with foundation in devising theatre and playwright. His body of work includes, experiemental work, realistic drama, movement based performances, children’s theatre, devised creations, traditional kaavad performances and inter-disciplinary collaborative theatre work. He has performed at various prestigious and alternate venues in India and abroad.
Anubhab Khan is a PhD student at National Centre for Biological Sciences. He works on Population Genomics and studies Tigers. Previously he has worked on biophysics, instrumentation and courtship behaviour. He likes making bonsai trees and collecting fungus.
Aparna is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s in Biology at Azim Premji University. She’s a budding ecologist and aspires to work in the field of wildlife conservation. She is currently researching on plant-pollinator interaction and learning in pollinators as part of her Bachelor’s project. Aparna is also passionate about dance and has been learning Bharatanatyam for many years. She is also fond of drawing and painting. Long walks in lush green forests, whilst listening to the birds and insect makes her happy.
Charu has worked as a journalist, lecturer, NGO consultant, actor and writer before becoming a ‘treeveller’ (one who travels to meet trees and revel in them). Though based in Bangalore, she’s ‘home’ closest to a tree. She grew up in Bangalore when Sampige, Maavu, Bevu and other maraas held sway. As the city morphed from green to grey, she’s been happily caught in the cross-talk between Neems and Peepals. When she’s not hugging trees, photographing them or listening to their stories, she likes to make a song and dance of them with other ‘treevellers.’
Undergoing what she calls her ‘metamorphosis’, Deepthi is exploring environmental science and technology, dance and contemporary art. Plus, she hopes to make sense of it all through her writing. A novice researcher and science communicator, she aspires to understand myriad concepts, and essentially contribute to spaces, in terms of dialogue, remediation and movement.
A polyglot, Hetal is passionate about languages. Hetal has academic training in Biology, and has worked for over a decade in the development sector with non-profit organisations and scholarly societies. An editor, content strategist, publishing specialist, and communications consultant, she has experience editing, developing and managing scholarly content for STM, humanities, and interdisciplinary subjects. She is intetrested in the discourse on ethics & policies in publishing, open access, open source,.
Ipsa Jain is a scientist by training and artist in spirit. She prefers drawing and painting over writing. Interested in science communication, she has dabbled in blogging and public speaking for communicating science. She creates Science inspired visual art which has led to the generation of her venture Ipsawonders.She calls herself the hunter and gatherer of interestingness and wants to share it all with the world.
Kasturi Saha hails from West Bengal. She has finished her masters in Ecology and Environmental Sciences and has joined IISC as a PhD student this year in Centre for Ecological Sciences. She is interested to work on animal behaviour and conservation biology. She believes that communicating science is as important (if not more) as doing research. She feels that Art-Ecology has taken an amazing initiative to do so and she is very excited to be a part of the project.
Kruthikaa has been learning Bharathanatyam from a very young age. She has been fascinated by movement as a medium of communication and how it has developed and evolved universally in different cultures over time. Having finished her Bachelors degree in science, she is currently taking time to learn and explore various performing arts.
A biotechnology graduate and a former intern at Salim Ali Centre for Ornithology and Natural History, Magesh now works for a MNC and is preparing for exams to pursue his career as a conservationist. Saddened on hearing that UP Government got fig trees cut down after terming them “inauspicious”, he is frustrated that we live in a country where a High-Court judge commented that peahens are impregnated from the tears of her mate. He believes that his pent up pain and anger could be effectively transformed through art to communicate ecology to the masses
Nayana has a degree in law. She practiced as a lawyer for a couple of years in Bangalore. The world outside the courtrooms fascinated her more and she began to work as a researcher and trainer for environmental laws. She now works at a research based NGO and studies the impacts of nature based tourism on local communities and the environment. Nayana was introduced to the world of figs through this initiative and has since been fascinated with every fig tree she can recognize.
With a diploma in electronics and communication engineering, Padmashree works at Bharat Electronics (BEL), a defense enterprise. She has basic training in classical music and dance. She loves being close to nature and is fond of reading books and listening to music.
Aged 54, Purva has been a Special Educator in a Special School for older children. She has also been a lay Counsellor with a Counselling Centre for individuals seeking help. Having done a certificate course in Art Based Therapy with WCCL, Pune she is currently working in a mainstream school working with Literary Club activity and storytelling sessions at a respite care centre for special needs individuals.She is fascinated with the concept of scientists and artists coming to create an awareness about environment.
Rajesh is a professional a software tester working in an IT firm. As a Nature lover, he is interested in exploring different aspects of Nature. Movement, he believes is a physical manifestation of human nature and the combination of human nature to understand and depict facets of nature is what interests him to be part of the ‘How to be a fig?’project. more of this project. He feels that most of his understanding of nature has been mostly theoretical and through the project he will be able to understand nature up close.
Shamala is writer and researcher who is currently studying law. She is a commuter-biker by choice has worked as a bicycle repair mechanic in one of the well-known cycle stores in Bangalore. Shamala’s love for cycling and interest in appropriate design and mechanics took her to Oregon where she learned to design and build a cargo cycle for herself. Having trained with Bangalore based theatre group, Indian Ensemble for nearly a year she was introduced to many aspects of theatre with a primary focus on acting.
Sreeranjini runs a quaint store in Bangalore, called Kavade, for reviving ancient board games. An extension of the store is Kavade Attic, where one could indulge & create playtime memories that are far removed from the adulteration of plastic or technology. Kavade is her way of asking people to try the alternative, to unplug, to discover ways of coming together and staying together.
For Sucheethra art and education have always been very close to her heart. She is currently working in a Pottery Studio where she teaches the basics of pottery and also learning. She is also doing her Masters in Education and has been in the field of education in various capacities as an Montessorian to a curriculum designer for over 7 years.
An engineering graduate in Biotechnology, Sudeshna has recently ventured into the field of wildlife studies. She is currently a junior research fellow at Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE). She has always been drawn to performing arts and says that working on the movement performance ‘How to be a fig’?’ has helped her rediscover the magic of wildlife and nature.
With over 10 years of experience in an MNC, Sugirtha quit and joined an NGO. During her two year fellowship at the NGO, she enjoyed working with children in a low income private school as a teacher. Currently, she is devoting all her time and energy to explore her passion with a deep interest in self inquiry. She feels very comfortable in solitude and in the company of nature.
Veena is the movement director/ choreographer for the project ‘How to be a fig?. She is an independent professional movement artist who is trained in multiple art forms. Having been chosen for a ‘Bodystorming’ workshop at the National Centre for Biological Sciences, she has had the opportunity to work with various dancers and scientists to explore newer ways of communicating science through movement. She a volunteer of Artecology and works with the initiative on projects that are focused on nature and science.
Vibhu has a master’s graduate from the English and foreign Languages University, Hyderabad. His area of interests include Performance studies, Indian Literature and translations, New Media, Queer literature and representations, Psychedelic studies and Indian Cinema. Currently, he is undergoing training in contemporary dancing. Vibhu says that he is a fortunate teacher by day and hopes to be a storyteller.
Vinay is a software developer who has been working on computer networking for around a dozen years. Lately his interests have focused on optical networking. He is also interested in various forms of performative arts. Over the last decade he has acted in over 10 plays and dabbled in playwriting . He has also been learning contemporary dance from the past few years.
The performance ‘How to be a fig?’ will premiere at the Students conference on Conservation Science (SCCS) on 23rd September, 2017 at the J.N Tata Auditorium, Bengaluru. The performance starts at 6pm and is open to public. All are welcome!
For more information about the project please visit ‘How to be a fig?’.