people, pandemic & a place for performance

an arts practice project implemented by India Foundation for the Arts, made possible with support from Sony Pictures Entertainment Fund

Nature of Program: Multidisciplinary Design Residency
Objective: Adaptive Reuse of a Place for Performance
Duration: 8 Weeks
Schedule: 1st June to 31st July 2022
Location: First 4 Weeks at Participants’ Respective Locations,
followed by another 4 Weeks of Residency in New Delhi

Size: 4 Participants
Participation Fee: None
Stipend: Rs.30,000/- for Each Participant

video of the earliest draft of the course

Pedagogical Framework
The site, program and design, are all participants’ choices. While the residency will be propelled by the memories, experiences, reflections and imagination of the six participants, it will be guided and facilitated by Siddharth Singh. The residency will follow a pedagogy of creativity fueled by participants’ emotional intelligence and, in addition to architectural design, will employ textual, graphic and embodied processes.


Designing a place for performance locates us at the intersection of all that the pandemic has had a severely adverse impact on: performance, congregation, rituals, learning, expression and spaces & opportunities for them all.

Framing the pandemic as the context, the residency intends to inquire into the isolation and insulation of the individual, the community, performance, architecture and nature from each other. The clues that the residency will follow are of the disruption of rituals – mundane as well as sacrosanct – and the disruption of breath. While the reference to the body in deriving or relating to architectural form isn’t uncommon, it is perhaps more critical now to ask, “How does this architecture breathe?”.

Each residency participant will choose their own site of intervention from familiar spaces within their neighborhood/ city. They will also develop the program and the design for their place of performance, using as raw material their earliest memories of performances, examples of performances unique to their community and extracts from the impact of the pandemic to their individual, domestic and communal rituals.

montage from Siddharth’s workshop in 2019

Method & Mediums

In response to their unique sites, participants will choose their own project type from the three categories of the street, the pavilion, the courtyard, or a combination of these, to develop the program and spatial design for a place for performance. Participants will develop their program in consultation with performing artists/ entrepreneurs, translate it into a spatial organization and integrate spatial design within its natural & built environments.

In addition to visual & spatial representation, the residency will widely use collage, writing, conversations, visual concept maps, reflective blogs and embodied processes to explore and affect processual diversity.

A review is scheduled in the 6th week with two senior practitioners/ academicians from the fields of theater & architecture. Kolkata based writer & dramaturg Dr. Rustom Bharucha and Ahmedabad based architect and educator Prof. Neelkanth Chhaya will offer critical feedback to the participants.

The modules of the course are comprised of briefs which set out tasks with clear instructions, parameters, schedule and deliverables.


The program is comprised of two phases:
1. Understanding of the Context
2. Development of Program & Design

Understanding Context
Introduction to the larger cultural and historical context through + Theater & CoronoVirus
Dr. Rustom Bharucha’s 9 episode speech act
Conversations at the Vessel; Three Volumes
Conversations around the pandemic with creative practitioners
Delineating and Studying the Site
Identifying the interstices for intervention within a familiar place of one’s city/ neighborhood
Remembering Performance
Recollecting one’s earliest experience(s) of performance and its rooting in one’s community
Local Forms of Performance
Identifying forms of theater and performance unique to one’s region/ community

Case Study Analyses
Historical & Contemporary and Global & Local examples of Places of Performance
Program Development
Consultations with practicing performing artists and entrepreneurs
Conceptual Schematic & Volumetric Explorations
Collaborative Deployments
Strategies and Mobile Interventions
Primary Theme & Elements
Design Development & Detailing

Reference List

  1. Theatre and the Coronavirus
    Dr. Rustom Bharucha (Video Lecture Series)
  2. Conversations @ The Vessel; Vol. 1, 2 & 3
    Siddharth Singh ed. (Video Conversation Serious)
  3. Beyond the Proscenium
    Anmol Vellani ed.
  4. Space for Engagement: The Indian Artplace
    Himanshu Burte
  5. The Fall of Public Man
    Richard Sennett
  6. A Pattern Language
    Christopher Alexander

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note: feature image poster comprises of Siddharth’s works since 2017: November ’17 interior architecture for The Art of Sport, theatrical explorations from March ’18 workshop and collage from August ’19 workshop