Quasar Thakore Padamsee, co-director of Tata Literature Live, talks about a unique immersive experience, The Word Hospital

The Word Hospital is an immersive theatre experience, with only 10 people allowed per show. The show revolves around two doctors, working tirelessly for their patients

Manasi Y MastakarUpdated: Friday, November 11, 2022, 08:56 PM IST
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A still from The Word Hospital |

The Tata Literature Live is back with interesting shows and literary events. One such interesting show happening today is The Word Hospital.

The Word Hospital is an immersive theatre experience, with only 10 people allowed per show. The show revolves around two doctors, working tirelessly for their patients. However, these patients are unique — they are words that have faded into oblivion or have been misused. They enlist help from volunteers, quite literally, to spread the word!

Quasar Thakore Padamsee, co-director of the festival, in an exclusive interaction with The Free Press Journal, provides further insight into the show and shares his experience of being associated with the festival. Excerpts from the interview:

What was the thought behind including The Word Hospital in the festival?

Every year, we have curated performances that are connected to literature in some way. Be it the dramatisation of books, poems that have been interpreted into dance, a graphic novel being staged, etc. The Word Hospital is such a perfect show for a literary festival. It works wonderfully with our aim at the festival, to create an intimate experience for our audiences. 

Can you tell us what The Word Hospital is about? 

 It's a lovely immersive show, where the audience member comes to visit words that are dying. The ‘doctors’ then take you through the ward, describing the words, what they mean and why they are dying. The only way to revive them is to actively bring them back into usage. 

A still from The Word Hospital

A still from The Word Hospital |

Why is the show open only for 10 people at a time?

It’s a short but intimate show, in a confined space. You are in a hospital ward, so 10 people at a time keeps the sanctity of the whole exercise. But there are multiple shows throughout the day. So, people can come and queue up.

The Word Hospital is an immersive experience. What is immersive theatre and how different is it from conventional theatre?

Immersive theatre is when the audience is also a part of the action. The show happens all around and is like conventional theatre, which is on a stage and the audience in seats. For The Word Hospital, the audience dives in and their active participation is needed. It’s a unique experience and each performance is different because the combination of audience members is different.

What can participants expect from The Word Hospital?

A unique experience, and hopefully learn about some words that have gone out of circulation. 

Quasar Thakore Padamsee

Quasar Thakore Padamsee |

What changes have you brought to the festival? 

This is our first one back on the ground in two years. Therefore, just the fact that we are back on the ground again is ‘new’. However, our online editions were also successful. Hence, this year we are back in a combined format. Some of the sessions are online and others are on the ground. So, that’s new.

Plus this year, our Book in Focus is Catch 22, we even have a language in focus, which is Gujarati. The programming has a strong focus on conflict, war and peace, Mumbai focus, gender, poetry, and more. And, of course, the debate is one of our most exciting things. 

As a theatre person, how does it feel to be associated with a literature festival?

In a strange way, both are so connected. Both are about ideas and diving deep into topics. To start with, it took a while to get used to. In the earlier years, I was only the performances curator. But the infectiousness of the founder, Anil Dharker, and the passion of the rest of the team, kindled an interest I didn't know I had. And now I'm hooked!

(Venue: St Pauls Institute, Bandra West, Mumbai; Duration: 30 minutes; Time: Multiple shows between 10.30 am to 7.20 pm)

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