Striv­ing for Ex­cel­lence

SANGEET NATAK AKADEMI AWARD RE­CIP­I­ENT, THE­ATRE DI­REC­TOR ANURADHA KA­PUR TALKS ABOUT THE NEED FOR POR­OUS BOR­DERS BE­TWEEN VAR­IED ART FORMS AND THE IM­POR­TANCE OF KEEP­ING MEDIOCRES AWAY.

India Today - - INSIDE - By SUKANT DEEPAK n

The im­por­tance of keep­ing mediocres away from the­atre.

Var­ied hues from dif­fer­ent art forms come to­gether in her work. Po­etry of paint­ing ef­fort­lessly comes to­gether with a gush of words and si­lences. It is clear that she likes to see her­self in un­in­formed spa­ces, dys­func­tional meet­ings. And that is where she feels es­sen­tially alive.

Delhi-based the­atre di­rec­tor Anuradha Ka­pur, a two-time (20072013) di­rec­tor of the pres­ti­gious Na­tional School of Drama in the coun­try’s cap­i­tal, says that she has al­ways liked art forms where there is no sin­gle au­thor­ship, where there is an ex­panded field of di­a­logue and no com­fort. “Por­ous bor­ders be­tween dif­fer­ent art forms, ob­serv­ing how they come to­gether with their sim­i­lar­i­ties and stalk dif­fer­ences, takes the work to a level where mean­ings emerge in mul­ti­tudes.” This, she says, is what has been keep­ing her ex­cited all these three decades in the­atre. “From 1990 on­wards, I have col­lab­o­rated ex­ten­sively with vis­ual artists, film­mak­ers and sculp­tors. I just don’t want pre­dictabil­ity as the end re­sult,” says the 2004 re­cip­i­ent of the Sangeet Natak Akademi award for The­atre Di­rec­tion.

And the crit­i­cism from ‘pu­ri­tans’ that fol­lows her work is brushed aside with a smile. “What is new about it? I am quite used to it. The prob­lem is that In­dian re­al­ism has pre­de­ter­mined the na­ture of the hut. It has also done its in­te­ri­ors. Yes, I be­lieve in ex­cess, and not the so-called mod­ern busi­ness,” she says dur­ing the Serendip­ity Arts Fes­ti­val held in Goa in De­cem­ber 2016, where she pre­sented the con­tem­po­rary rein­ter­pre­ta­tion of Shake­speare’s The Tem­pest along with Lil­lete Dubey. All for small the­atre reper­tory com­pa­nies in dif­fer­ent parts of the coun­try, Ka­pur, the author of Ac­tors, Pil­grims, Kings and Gods: The Ramlila of Ram­na­gar (Univer­sity of Chicago Press (2006), feels that peo­ple must go back to their own roots af­ter ad­e­quate train­ing. “A huge num­ber of trained the­atre peo­ple from dif­fer­ent re­gions want to stick it out in Mum­bai or other met­ros. Where is the space?”

While agree­ing that it is ex­cit­ing to see large num­ber of the­atre fes­ti­vals bur­geon­ing in In­dia, the di­rec­tor well-known for her works like Sun­dari: An Ac­tor Pre­pares, Ghar aur Ba­har, Um­rao and Romeo and Juliet, adds, “But it is im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that sev­eral young and promis­ing di­rec­tors are sel­dom in­vited there. Let us stop play­ing safe by invit­ing only ma­jor di­rec­tors. We have to en­cour­age the bril­liance of the young.”

Men­tion all the talk by sev­eral Mum­bai-based di­rec­tors about the in­dis­pens­abil­ity of cor­po­rate sup­port in the­atre, and she is quick to say, “Not that I am against it in prin­ci­ple. How­ever, the best the­atre al­ways hap­pens un­der state’s pa­tron­age. Not un­der cor­po­rate non­sense. Cor­po­rates need to un­der­stand that there is much more to this than mere en­ter­tain­ment. It gets on my nerves when these young cor­po­rate types, who can’t even spell lit­er­a­ture, talk in that I-know-all tone.”

Ka­pur, who has al­ways been vo­cal about the ap­point­ment of un­der-qual­i­fied heads to var­i­ous art in­sti­tu­tions un­der the present cen­tral gov­ern­ment, says, “It is the busi­ness of in­sti­tu­tions to ask dif­fi­cult ques­tions. You can’t have a per­son there who, like in a guru-shishya param­para expects his feet to be touched con­stantly.”

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