“Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” --Rumi
But, in today’s times, the most difficult thing is probably to find someone to listen to you even when you do manage to raise your words. ‘Spoken’, an initiative by Kommune does just that. It not only gives one a platform to raise their words but also amplifies it so that it is heard by a wider audience. Here one can use their words to articulate their intensely intimate thoughts as well as their robust reactions to the society. “Kommune was able to get so many people to speak their truths simply because I think we started with a belief that we are a safe space for people. Even when we used to initially do our catch ups four years ago, we would get people together into almost like a sharing circle. And they would tell their stories, and come up and speak on a microphone, and we would record them. But we would always seek their permission saying, do they want to share what they have to say. I think all people wanted was a way to creatively express themselves, which is what I've managed to do with the team at Kommune,” says Roshan Abbas who co-founded Kommune with Gaurav Kapur and Ankur Tewari in 2015.
Kommune is a platform where artists, producers, patrons and collaborators come together to support artists and performances. It is a place where new performance concepts are discovered and nurtured; ultimately helping them reach the right audience.
“We really feel that there is a there is a hierarchy of needs that a creator has at the very basic level, a creator just wants to maybe consume creative things. At the next level, they want to know the tools of how to develop it. They want to be challenged and want to be able to earn money from it and be recognised. And then they want to collaborate with bigger people. So I think that's what Kommune is trying to provide them a platform for creative expression, a stage for every story. And to do it truthfully, honestly with no filter. I think the other joy is that we are a very young, very small team and we respect each other's views. We respect our audiences views and of course our creators views. And that's where I think this whole ecosystem has grown," explains Abbas, who has hosted two seasons of The Storytellers (by Kommune) on Amazon Prime.
‘Spoken’ has been one of the most noteworthy initiatives by Kommune, a festival where poets, spoken word artists, storytellers from India and abroad come together. This year, due to the pandemic, the festival went digital. “During the pandemic from being a big celebration of the live performance art, we went into being a virtual celebration of the performance art. And the one new thing that it actually gave us was this whole focus on learning because they realized that they were able to create e-learning modules around creativity was so much more exciting. We also tried about 20 different formats. And these are something that people really enjoyed. And people started coming back to us and saying that these are great. I think we built a largely loyal audience. So I think that's the one unique thing that's happened. We did a spoken reunion that happened online, we had about 2000 people who attended it," says Abbas, a distinguished theatre actor, TV anchor, director and RJ, and heads the event management company, Geometry Encompass.
In the past, Spoken has seen participation by artists such as like screenwriter-lyricist Varun Grover, comedian Rohan Joshi, journalist Faye D'Souza, actor Kubra Sait, actor Radhika Apte, commentator Harsha Bhogle, and social media influencers like Srishti Dixit and Kusha Kapila.
“In January, we hope we can do a hybrid spoken by when we will have it online, but we'll also have smaller physical gigs that will happen and maybe not in one city when maybe in multiple cities simultaneously,” he adds.
It was in March last year when Kommune launched an initiative, creating an anthem, which brought 100 poets together, who created a poem on theme, My Right To Write. This effort had been inspired by Rakesh Tiwari’s Sau Hazaar Likhne Wale (A Hundred Thousand Writers Can). This year, Kommune decided to celebrate Diwali by inviting entries with a line on ‘their idea of home.’
The entries are being currently reviewed, after which Osho Jain shall compose Kommune’s first ever song, which shall release on November 11. Abbas was pleasantly surprised at the number of entries that they received, and is looking forward to make people enjoy the Diwali spirit.