Saturday, November 4, 2017

Usha Ganguly @Lokadharmi 10.00 am 5th Nov 2017

Usha Ganguly (born 1945) is an Indian theatre director-actor and activist, and founder of Rangakarmee theatre group Kolkata, visits Lokadharmi. She will be interacting with the artists and acting students of Lokadharmi at 10.00 am on 5th Nov 2017, on various issues on contemporary theatre, acting in theatre, her process and approach to theatre etc.
She was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Direction, given by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy of Music, and Dance & Drama in 1998.[6] She has also been honoured by the West Bengal Government as the best actress for the play Gudia Ghar.[
She started her career as a Hindi Lecturer at Bhowanipur Education Society College, till her retirement in 2008 and practised theatre alongside.[9]
Initially since was trained as a dancer, and started acting in plays like Gudia Ghar based on Ibsen’s Dolls House. She started directing in the 1980s and soon her energetic style and disciplined ensemble work with young, large casts brought a resurgence of Hindi theatre in the city. Her important productions include Mahabhoj (Great Feast) Lokkatha (Folktale), Holi Rudal, Himmat Mai, an adaptation of Brecht's Mother Courage and Court Marital written by Swadesh Deepak.
She has written a play Kashinama, based on a story, from the Kashinath Singh's classic work, Kashi Ka Assi and an original play Khoj. She also worked on the script of Raincoat a Hindi film based on O Henry's The Gift of the Magi, directed by Rituparno Ghosh.
Her plays were performed all over India and in all major theatre festivals including Bharangam and ITFoK, and also at the Theatre der Welt Festival in Stuttgart, Germany, "Punj Pani Festival" at Lahore Pakistan.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

A three day workshop on Gender and Theatre - As part of the Fulbright Alumni Award 2017 to Chandradasan - Sponsored by USIEF and Lokadharmi

A three day workshop on ‘Gender and Theatre’ was held at Nadakaveedu, Nayarambalam Kochi, as part of the Fulbright Alumni award 2017 awarded to Chandradasan, from 22nd to 24th of September, 2017. The workshop is sponsored by USIEF and Lokadharmi Kochi. The interactive and informal round table sessions of the workshop were inspiring with the participation of renowned personalities from various walks of life.
The purpose of the workshop was to introspect and share ideas and experiences related to gender equality in performance arts especially theatre. The workshop ruminates gender insensitivity as a multi-dimensional universal issue: all workspace performance could be related to theater performance; therefore it took a rather cognitive stand, so that the effort taken is percolated in nature and would trespass time.
Each one who came to attend the workshop, around 30 in number, (22 on the first day, 27 on second and 29 on the third day to be precise) from various walks of life- Theatre, Cine, Kathakali and Kutiyattam Artists, Dancers, Educationists, Lawyers, Civil servants, Administrators, Visual Artists, Sports persons, Singers, Traditional performers, Teachers, and students - eagerly shared the wealth of their experiences and contributed ideas to face and challenge the burning issue, in the deliberations. Due representation was given to seasoned artists who struggled against all odds and found their position in the field of performing arts. The participants included men also to complete the spectrum of understanding.
The value system which is the residue of a society’s moral, ethical, and religious culture was identified as a key factor that determined how a performer was viewed in that society. It is evident from how, in the west, an artist /performer is treated with that identity whereas in India, especially Kerala, the gender of the performer/artist determines the kind of treatment given. Discussions relating to this have happened before and in this workshop it resumed with fresh energy.
Day One/ 22 September 2017
The first day of the workshop centered on the history and position of women in theatre and its current scenario. Prof. Chandradasan, the director of the workshop introduced the subject. He mentioned that exploitation and inequalities have no boarders and women are exposed to various forms of abuse and ill-treatment worldwide. “The workshop intends to explore the dark corners of bitter experiences women encounter, the myriad emotions they live through and the voyeuristic eyes they have comprehended,” he said. The subtle evolution of the concept of gender and theater from the earlier women and theater was clearly delineated.
Prominent theatre and state award winning film actress, Sajitha Madathil gave a comprehensive discourse on the role of women in the history and evolution of theatre in Kerala. She adhered to the fact that women are still at the receiving end of unpleasant experiences, citing examples. The situation is as grim as it was in the olden days, even though creative revolutions have taken place at various phases in the evolution of the Malayalam theatre and theater has even been used as a tool to throw light upon the ordeals faced by women.
Kathakali artist Ranjini Suresh talked about the conservative realm of Kathakali training and the discriminations she had to face as a woman performer who took up to perform the challenging male epic characters like Ravana, in the male dominant world of Kathakali. The woman performer’s greatest challenge was to break free from the performance parameters set by the male masters even for female characters/roles. Innovations by women artists is rarely acknowledged and if at all recognized, it is ascribed to a male support in the form of a guru or blood relation.
Afternoon session addressed the main issue- exploitation and injustice women artist face in theatre. The eighty four year old singer and theatre artist P K Medini talked at length about her long, traumatic journey into art and life. She belongs to the first generation that tried to coalesce politics and art. The issue of language and body language was discussed at length.
Sajitha Madathil (Theatre and cine actor), Ranjini Suresh (Kathakali Actor), Madan Babu (Actor and writer), Arun PR (Writer), Aparna Venu (Researcher), Selvaraj VR (Actor), PK Medini (Veteran Actor, Singer and social activist), Asha Devi (Actor), and Shobha Menon (Visual Artist) actively participated in the days discussions along with others.
Day Two -23 September 2017
Eminent academician, writer, orator, and social activist Prof. M K Sanu graced the second day of the workshop. This 88 year old, prominent literary figure of Kerala who has authored more than thirty-six books, arrived at this workshop because of his passion for theatre. The topic acquired a progressive rise in insights and ideas as he discoursed authoritatively about the eventful milestones of Kerala theatre. He described how women were marginalized and swept aside by the powerful male attitudes and the contributory social structure.
Former Vice Chancellor of Kerala Kalamandalam and renowned Art scholar Prof. K G Paulose, theatre critic, writer and social activist Civic Chandran and prominent poet and activist Shri. S. Ramesan gave comments painted with stark realities. According to Prof.K G Paulose, the patriarchal psyche of a male dominant society continues to mar the theatre and its artistic equality. He spoke about the orthodox tribal psyche that has been passed down generations as archetypal images that prescribe specific performance spaces for the male and the female.  But according to him, an effective interference from the creative world can change the scenario positively and it is happening, though very slowly.
Civic Chandran had a different opinion. The Renaissance period had chopped off the artistic part of art and gave no prominence to art as a medium in its pursuit for uplifting women. He strongly suggested that drastic steps be taken to infuse artfulness in theatre.
Molly Kannamali, the veteran Chavittunatakam performer and mini screen actress energized the workshop with her unfailing spirit and enthusiasm for the art she represents. She gave a detailed speech about her plight as a woman performer. “All the old taboos with coarse, uncivilized attitudes still reign the world,” she said.
Chandradasan Introducing the workshop - Sajitha Madathil and Medini on both sides
Molly Kannamali (Veteran actor of Chavittunatakam), PR Arun (Writer), Prof. MK Sanu (Academician, writer, and social activist), Dr.KG Paulose (Former Vice Chancellor of Kerala Kalamandalam, Writer and theatre Critic), Civic Chandran (playwright and Social activist), Indu G (Kutiyattam Artist and Poet), Margi Madhu (Kutiyattam Actor), Nandini R Nair (Officer at Indian Civil Service), Prof. Anjali George (Academician), Priya Sreejith (Actor and Dancer), Anand Haridas (Journalist), and PK Medini (Singer and actor) lead the days deliberations.
Day Three – 24 September 2017
By the concluding day of the workshop, ‘the road not taken’, the path that needs to be taken, was more or less clearly identified. Each participant’s fresh thoughts and ideas synchronized with discourses from the previous day and that eventually became contemplations for future actions. Experts from new arenas like social auditing, business consultancy and tribal teaching asserted that everywhere the situations of women are of neglect and negation. In the course of the four sessions of the day, though different experiences and individual ideas were exchanged and interpreted, in the end it all coalesced as rivers into a sea.
“The peculiarity of a movement is that it never ends and takes a permanent shape; it travels, evolving in its course through time and space…,” one of the participants was heard saying at a lighter moment of the work shop…True enough…No finite shape evolved and no conclusions were reached…the ethos of Art started to travel to another phase, to take another form… The workshop flagged it off.
Sajitha Madathil (Actor), Prof. Gopan Chidambaram (Playwright and Academician), PR Arun (Writer), Madan Babu (Actor and writer), Shirley Somasundaran (actor and playwright), Dr.KG Paulose (Former Vice Chancellor of Kerala Kalamandalam, Writer and theatre Critic), Civic Chandran (playwright and Social activist), Bentla D’Coutha (Vice captain of women’s football team of India Coach, and referee in International matches), Nandini R Nair (Officer at Indian Civil Service), Selvaraj VR (Actor), Chathuri Chandrageetha (Social auditor and actor), Ferha Aziz (Lawyer, human rights worker and actor), and Suvarnna (musician), were the prime discussants in the final day.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Ramith Ramesh from Lokadharmi Gets Admission in ITI Singapore...

10552596_633325956787483_2593371555200977689_nCongratulations and all the best to Ramith Ramesh Kalamandalam for getting admission to the prestigious Intercultural Theatre Institute(ITI), Singapore, to do the Professional Diploma in Intercultural Theatre (Acting).

It is a three year, full time, systematic training programme for professional actors. It is performer-centred, practice oriented training that emphasises intercultural work and original creation. It immerses students in traditional theatre forms of Asia (Kutiyattam, Beijing Opera, Japanese Noh Theatre and Wayang Wong from Indonesia) and juxtaposes these with intense interactions with Stanislavskian and post Stanislavskian actor training techniques.

Only 12 to 16 students are admitted per batch every year selected from all across the world, and we are proud that Ramith is one among them selected this year. Ramith is the second student from Lokadharmi, who got admission in ITI after Pooja Mohanraj who is there in the 1916 batch 21687846_1772917766333871_4828884373697645391_n

Ramith had done his graduation from Kalamandalam in Kutiyattam before joining Lokadharmi. He has been in the repertory of Lokadharmi for the last one year and part of the play Karnnabharam by Bhasa. He has been member of the team Lokadharmi when Karnnabharam was staged in the National Festival of Classical plays at Ujjain and Indore organised by National School of Drama in July 2017.

Ramith has been awarded with the Natyasree award from Vysakhi Visakhapattanam this year.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Setting the Stage for a Dream Theatre


Chandradasan plans to set up a flexible performance space with state-of-the-art acoustics and seating for less than 200 spectators
No amount of heckling can dissuade the truly motivated from chasing their dream.
Chandradasan, artistic director of theatre collective Lokadharmi has demonstrated it beyond doubt. As government institutions that ought to create dedicated performance spaces in the city looked the other way, he refused to cringe into whining mode.
Taking a bold step, he raised Rs.1 crore by selling about 6.5 cents of land with a house at Vyttila and spent nearly half of it to buy 26 cents of land at Manattuparambu, near Naryarambalam, some 11 km from Marine Drive, to construct a ‘Centre for Theatre Research, Training and Performance’.
Dreams, after all, are solitary walks.
A ballpark figure of Rs.3 crore is what he estimates the centre to cost, hoping to raise the outstanding sum through crowd-funding, corporate donations, individual patronage and as grant from government agencies and other institutions. Ved Segan, renowned architect of Mumbai’s Prithvi theatre, visited the property and held discussions with the architects of the project.
 “Theatre productions are perfected over a few performances, but thanks to paucity of quality spaces, we don’t have regular staging of plays,” he rues.
The centre he plans to set up will have a flexible performance space with state-of-the-art acoustics and seating for less than 200 spectators. It will be ideal for theatre workshops and collaborative productions. Given the potential of such a project, the Tourism Department could bring interested tourists to spend an evening for a performance here. A la cinemas, the same production could be staged here for days or months together.
It could also be used for other art performances and even screening of parallel cinema.
Mr. Chandradasan also wants to set up a theatre library, physical and digital, on the premises. Young playwrights could take up writing residency. Theatre badly needs fresh plays, he says.
The plan is to complete the first phase in a year’s time, with the remaining being gradually built. “For now, there’s an urgent need for storage space to keep Lokadharmi’s costumes and theatre properties,” he says.

 “Wannabe actors call me everyday to see if I will organise acting workshops. Such a centre, in a quiet place but within a radius of about 11 km from all major points around the city, would make it possible,” says the professor, all eager to live his dream.

Courtesy - The Hindu Kochi, 21 September 2015

Friday, July 31, 2015

Shakespeare is out in the park again.

Shakespeare in Laurelhurst park Portland– Original Shakespeare Practice preformed The taming and the shrew and Romeo and Juliet. Also saw the last scene of the Taming of the Shrew by the Portland Actors ensemble in another corner of the park.
Performing Shakespeare ‘free’ out in the park mostly in the summer daylight seems a common practice in US. I have seen it in San Diego, New York, Seattle and again here in Portland. At Laurelhurst Park there were two performances of 'The Taming of the Shrew' by Shakespeare, performed by two companies almost at the same time. ‘The Original Practice Shakespeare’ performed the play as it was supposed to be in the times of Shakespeare, with the actors improvising impromptu the movements, diction and the performance itself, referring and reading their lines and the cue from the scrolls of in their hands; while the prompter with the whole text and a whistle was sitting on the stage, helping the actors and interfering, taking the show forward. At the same time the Portland Actors Ensemble performed the same play as we do it now; with proper rehearsals. Later in the evening The Original Practise Shakespeare performed Romeo and Juliet in the same typical ‘Original Shakespearean Practice’.

Shakespeare's plays were first performed with lots of preparation, energy and audience interaction but with limited rehearsals. Not every Elizabethan actor had a full printed script and sometimes actors put on a dozen shows in a fortnight, so performers used onstage cues, lightning-fast improvisation and other tricks to tackle the plays live. First Folio editions of Shakespeare's plays include all the cues an actor needs to perform his role without rehearsal. This allows the truest reaction to the story as it progresses.

“OPS Fest performs using the same techniques as they did in Shakespeare's own time, which means limited rehearsal; an onstage prompter; fast paced, energetic acting; and lots of audience interaction. This lends a much more immediate, organic and improvisational feel to the performances. We perform the way Shakespeare's own actors did, in the open air, in natural light, with minimal sets, and with great, fast-paced, energetic acting and lots of audience interaction!
…. Shakespeare's actors performed ten to twelve different plays in any fortnight, and never performed the same play on two consecutive days. If a play was a hit it might return three times within a month; but meanwhile, to fill the theater, there had to be a different play performed every day…. When in the world could they have rehearsed all these plays?”

The answer, we think, is that they did not. They prepared their "roles" (rolled cue scripts) on their own time, met together on the morning of a show, choreographed fights and music and dance, and performed that afternoon. By all accounts, the performances were magnificent— otherwise, the plays would not have survived.
Next, and perhaps most importantly, we trust Shakespeare's texts to provide all the information we need to play well. We know that his actors were far more like our professional athletes than like our actors: they knew the rules and were virtuosos at PLAYING, whatever the situation of the moment. Audiences had to be lured from the bear-baiting and brothels down the street; Shakespeare wrote fun, bawdy, outrageous popular entertainments for the masses (that also happen to have astounding poetry), and the masses came to participate in every play--. When we play Shakespeare, we play. (From the website of Original Practice Shakespeare)
It is clear that the OPS actors have been well trained in the rules of the game, to make quick impro, convert even a folly into an entertaining moment by sheer austerity and presence of mind. The improvised interactions between the prompter (he is the master performer with his questions to the actors in between, breaking the show, interfering, commenting etc.) and the other actors give a special air and meaning to the whole show. For example he stopped the actors and asked them to suggest a proper name for a Broadway musical to be produced based on Taming of the Shrew… The actors came with different suggestions and finally they agreed on a title ‘Changing of the Girls, Kissing the Cake’! Such interactions elicits the ingenuity of the actor and the audience alike and also link the show to the present day reality, and the audience start to understand the meaning of the play from a contemporary experience. A truly Brechtian approach itself. (The prompter and his interactions reminded me of the Chodyakkaran of Porattunadakam...). The actors used the whole available area, moving among the audience and around – no illusion of a fourth wall, and it elicits a non-linear viewing from the audience. The most important aspects of the show were the narration of the story, the impro-verish performance of the actor and his/her wit, the quick takes on and off the story, the participation of the audience (e.g. by a collective roaring when the actor speak the line, ‘the lions roar’). Along with the grandeur writing of Shakespeare fusing poetry and philosophy into a social critic, the actor’s impromptu performance takes the show ahead, with the collaboration of the audience who are compelled to be open and transparent. The double meaning and the pun hinted by Shakespeare become more evident in this performance, and the actors were naughty and mischievous to play with the lines of the bard and enthuse wit and entertainment by improvising and extending the lines with their gesture, movement and body. (At one juncture of the show, the poetry written by Shakespeare was made to sing as a rap as demanded by the prompter.) The audience makes sound, replies, eats and drinks and is at the same time immersed in the entertainment.

The text of in the Taming of the Shrew extracts laughter from the tactics to tame an unyielding lady to an obedient wife, which is quite a chauvinistic and regressive laughter; in performance it got subverted and the laughter seem to be springing from the prangs of the man in his attempt to tame the lady for grabbing the big dowry offered.

Romeo and Juliet was later performed in the same style by OPS. But as the performance started rain poured down; audience sat through the rain, hiding themselves in umbrellas, polythene covers (distributed by the OPS) and partly wet. The actors performed out in the rain; trying to overpower the sound and wrath of the rain with their energy, passion and determination. Many of the lines went wet and did not reach, but the show went on. When the rain subsided there was a beautiful rainbow in the sky; one of the actors who was off-stage came to me, pointed the rainbow and suggested that I can shoot a picture of the play under it. Under the rainbow, Romeo and Juliet were expressing their love and passion. Great to see the couple romancing under an evening rainbow out in an open park! Earlier in Taming of the Shrew, Petruchio and Katherina were arguing whether it is the sun or moon they see in the sky, pointing to the bright sun. When I looked up I could see a dwindling moon also there. 
And when the last tragic death scenes of Juliet and Romeo came, it was stark dark!! 
The charms of Shakespeare being out in nature!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Betty Bernhard Departed


After playing an illustrious career as a theatre director, teacher and mentor, Dr. Betty Bernhard passed away on 21st of March 2015. I am still not out of the shock this news gave me. Her sister told me that she was hearing Indian Music and had the scarf that I brought from India besides her in the last moments …

She was known to me from 1996, when she came first to Kochi and directed Roosters with Living Theatre. I have been closely observing her process of play making and rehearsals, and helped her wherever she wanted. And we met again and again as she frequented India looking for Indian traditional and classical theatre as well as to meet and interact with theatre activists in India. She was instrumental in getting me to Pomona College Claremont, as my host institution for the Fulbright Fellowship as my faculty associate here, in the research I am currently engaged.

leonardo, me, betty and Brian Borphy

She was working as a Professor of Theatre at Pomona College, Claremont California USA, since 1984. She was an expert in Acting, Directing; Contemporary Women Playwrights; American Theatre; Devised Theatre; theatre for social change etc. Bhavai the Folk Theatre of Gujarat, and the works of Women Theatre Activists of India were also in her academic and artistic concerns. She kept linked with activist theatre and Theatre for social change, theatre of the oppressed and community theatre all around America and India. Bernhard has researched political theatre, taught as a Fulbright Fellow and made documentaries in India since 1990.

She writes, “Focusing on India, I am interested in how theatre shapes and is shaped by society, particularly the marginalized groups and people in transitional situations such as immigration. Most recently, I completed a feature documentary on ways that Women Theatre Activists of India use theatre as a means to bring about social and cultural change. Many of the older women worked in the Gandhi “Quit India” movement against the British, using theatre as their means. I directed three plays in India and two classical Indian plays at Pomona College. I have also studied with Augusto Boal and the Theatre of the Oppressed: Theatre for Social Change. I have produced four documentaries and a CD-ROM on Indian folk, classic and political theatre.”


“In all her work, Betty was an outspoken champion for theatre by, about, and for women, minorities and other underrepresented groups,” writes Theatre Department chair James Taylor. “We will always remember Betty for her strength and sense of purpose, her goodwill and generosity of spirit, and her passionate love for the art form that we all share.”

She has produced more than 60 productions at Pomona College and in India, including two fully produced Sanskrit plays in English. They Include Sakuntalam, Mruchakadikam (The little Clay Cart) as well as other politically minded plays like Kindertransport, The Three penny Opera, The Love Song of J. Robert Oppenheimer, and A Piece of My Heart among many others. She choose plays written by women playwrights and plays that were speaking of subjects which were barely spoken off. Her last play was “In the next room or the vibrator play” written by Sarah Ruhl which was premiered on the 06th of this March at Pomona College.



In The next Room or the Vibrator Play turns out to be the last play Betty directed. The play takes place in the 1880’s when electricity is discovered and electric bulbs were coming into existence. The other first use of electricity other than bulbs that illuminated was to develop vibrators that enabled doctors to use ‘vibrator therapies’ on their female patients to bring to orgasm as a medical treatment to treat their so-called 'hysteria' a real diagnosis, and a quite common to women in the Victorian age.

The text has other layers and themes including Victorian ignorance of female sexual desire, motherhood, breastfeeding, and jealousy. Betty used this play to speak about frustration of women whose husbands are not at all aware of their sexual needs, and to establish sex as the natural right of women.

in the next room or the vibrator play

The vibrator play is a provocative, evocative and funny about a young doctor and his wife. Dr. Givings is obsessed with the marvels of technology and what they can do for his patients. His wife, Catherine, is only a bystander in her husband's world - listening at the door from the next room as he treats his female patients. The only woman whose problem is not helped by the doctor is his own wife who longs to connect with him - but not electrically.

Both Sabrina Daldry, the patient of Dr.Givings and Catherine Givings are sexually frustrated with their husbands, who creep quietly into their beds at night and only use the missionary position, which they endure but do not enjoy. Both are excited to have their first orgasms with the vibrator machine. Mrs. Daldry is content to continue having clinical treatments with the machine and suffer lifeless, boring sex with her own husband. When Mrs. Givings’s wet nurse, Elizabeth suggests that the feelings they undergo with the machine are the same ones some women experience in bed with their husbands, they responded with stupefied silence…

the vibrator pay

Catherine Givings wants more. Catherine convinces Dr. Givings to make naked snow angels with her and discovers the woman on top sex position, allowing her at last sexual satisfaction while the play ends.

Betty did handle this play quite openly and boldly. She could convincingly portray the situations in the play with pungency and also at times with riotous humour. One of the most hilarious moments in the play was when the electric power is gone amidst of the treatment. Quite innocently the nurse asks the doctor whether she shall try the ‘manual’ way and the doctor agrees … The nurse go ahead manually and brings out the orgasm!!

The writing as well as the performance looked authentic (of course a lot of research work and original thinking has gone into this work) and more than that honest. Application of that electrified wand in the doctor’s hand resulted in shuddering moans, guttural cries and exhortations but it stroked at the real spot.

vibrator play

The ideas underpinning the play, about the fundamental lack of sympathy between men and women of the period, and the dubious scientific theories that sometimes reinforced women’s subjugation, are grim. “In the Next Room” illuminates how much control men had over women’s lives, bodies and thoughts, even their most intimate sensations.

The set consisted of a parlour and consulting room of Dr. Givings, divided by a wall and door; which was dismantled at the end of the play to be converted into an open landscape where snow falls down for the couple to undress and go for a coitus of real orgasm.

The costumes with the corset, the form-disfiguring gown and the petticoats was also speaking about the suppression/manipulation/characterisation/viewing of the female body by the Victorian orthodoxy. (The costumes, by David Zinn, are both lushly pretty and witty in their elaborate construction.)

HE SHE IT (the play) and OUT! LOUD ! (the documentary film)

Betty had been travelling to India many times and had deep-rooted relationship with the practice and practitioners of Indian theatre. She had a profound interest in the aesthetics and practice modes of traditional Indian theatre, both the folk and classical heritage as well as in contemporary Indian theatre. She was specially connected to the female theatre practitioners and their work, and of course to the political theatre as well.

Betty with the  cast of vibrator play

She was also interested in the gender and trans-gender issues and performances associated with. She made an outstanding documentary film named ‘Out Loud’ about the lives of contemporary Indian lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and trans-sexual young people and the representations of LGBT in sacred Indian texts. Betty says "this is a documentary that draws parallels between the present with ancient and sacred Indian stories, such as the Puranas and the Mahabharata, wherein representations of homosexuality, bi-sexuality, lesbianism, transgender and trans-sexual activity are clearly described. It shows the lives of contemporary LGBT persons in Pune, India, as they devise a play He She It. The film is comprised of interviews of the actors, clips from rehearsals and final production." The play He She It, an original play devised by the theatre company Pune is based on the true stories of the actors in the play and ancient Indian spiritual literature, such as the Puranas and the Mahabharata. The participants discuss their stories of sexual discovery, community responses to their sexuality and their struggle for self-acceptance. One individual elects castration, one becomes a sex worker, some are kidnapped and raped, and others are punished by their parents and subjected to shock treatments to “cure” homosexuality. Their stories are interspersed with clips from play rehearsals and the final production in the film. Bernhard says her aim is to show that LGBT is not an imported Western idea, but has always been present in India.


The mark Betty Left in Indian theatre in India and in California will remain in the memories of the people who were lucky to work with her, interact and share the performances. She was instrumental in connecting the West to the East, the classical to the contemporary, and aesthetics with the political. She dared to cut across the safe paths and dreamed new and dangerous projects.

For me, she was one of the motivations and reasons to pursue the Fulbright Fellowship, and her absence is leaving a vacuum. One of the dreams she shared in our last meeting was that she wanted to produce and co-direct Bhagavadajjukam with me in Los Angeles.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Metawards and Kerala Theatre







In the history of Ten years of Meta (Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards) which is undoubtedly the best recognition in Indian theatre, three Malayalam plays had bagged the best play award. Karnnabharam (2008 -Lokadharmi Theatre Kochi, INDIA, -Chandradasan); Spinal Cord (2010 - OxygenTheatre Kerala - Deepan Sivaraman ) and now Matthi (2015 - Malayala kalanilayam - Jino Joseph). Also productions of Kizhavanum Kadalum Sasidharan Naduvil), Macbeth Jyothish Mg), Moments Just Before Death (Liju Krishna), After The silence (Martin John Chalissery) has won accolades for direction, acting, scenic designing, lighting design etc.
It is great to see that KeralaTheatre is really going high.... I am proud and happy to be part of this.