Light­ing Spa­ces Dark

Re­belling against his par­ents’ no-frills theatre, Sangeet Natak Akademi award win­ning light­ing de­signer, Gyan­dev Singh, talks about how he os­cil­lates be­tween mod­ern plays and clas­si­cal dance pro­duc­tions

India Today - - THEATRE - _ By Sukant Deepak

Sit­ting in his theatre prac­ti­tion­ers par­ent’s GS Channi and Har­leen's house in Chandigarh, light­ing de­signer Gyan­dev Singh, laments that he sel­dom gets the op­por­tu­nity to cy­cle in Delhi, so he makes the best of it when here. “Even when the heat is re­lent­less,” he man­ages to say be­tween large gulps of wa­ter. One of the most promis­ing light­ing artists in the coun­try, this Sangeet Natak Akademi awardee (2014) says that con­ser­va­tive dance troupes in the South­ern part of the coun­try have adopted “this Sar­darji who loves gu­lab-ja­muns.” For a long time, the con­ver­sa­tion with this Na­tional School of Drama (NSD) grad­u­ate (2006) in stage design and tech­nique does not even go close to theatre.

While his mother serves tea, he ad­mits that all years spent in that house­hold where street theatre and con­tent­cen­tric pro­duc­tions sans el­e­ments like cos­tumes, lights and mu­sic were the topic of de­bates even on the din­ing ta­ble, he de­vel­oped a strange urge to find out the ‘other theatre’. “It was my own lit­tle act of re­bel­lion. The years spent at the NSD opened my eyes to dif­fer­ent di­men­sions of this art form. My par­ents never dis­cour­aged me from find­ing out the side they never delved in. That I feel is the great­est gift they have given me,” the 35-year-old looks at Har­leen.

While he gets set to design lights for An­janeyam by Ap­sara Arts, a three-


Theatre di­rec­tors Ram Gopal Ba­jaj, M.K Raina, Anu­radha Ka­pur, Ab­hi­laash Pi­lai, Roys­ten Abel, Mo­han Ma­har­ishi, Robin Das, Lushin Dubey and Vivek Man­sukhani Akram Khan dance com­pany, Lon­don Ash­ley Lobo Aditi Man­gal­das Leela Sam­son Mad­havi Mud­h­gal and Arushi Mud­h­gal. Malavika Sar­rukai. Ku­mu­dini Lakhya and San­jukta Sinha. Pup­pet per­for­mances of Varun Narayan And Dadi Padamji . Mu­sic Bands in­clud­ing Men­whopause and The Mu­sic Cir­cle, Them Clones and Ad­veta hour show at Es­planade Theatre in Sin­ga­pore this Au­gust, where 200 In­dian and In­done­sian dancers will come to­gether for a three-hour show, Singh is also work­ing to light up Malavika Sarukai’s Tharvi, which has been con­cep­tu­alised with Kan­jee­varam sa­rees.

Trained un­der Ashok Bha­gat at the NSD, where he learnt to de­fine and re­de­fine ar­eas of per­for­mance spa­ces with his lights, lend­ing a sub-text to the nar­ra­tive, the light­ing de­signer ad­mits that work­ing with artists down South where guru-shishya is still reigns supreme, has been an ex­pe­ri­ence to cher­ish. “I was an out­sider. The way they ac­cepted me in their tra­di­tional mould and were re­cep­tive to some of the most ex­per­i­men­tal ideas in light­ing is most in­ter­est­ing. The con­trast be­tween mod­ern In­dian theatre and the still tra­di­tional ways of clas­si­cal dance has surely lent a pe­cu­liar di­men­sion to my work,” adds the light­ing di­rec­tor for 2012 Ed­in­burg In­ter­na­tional Fes­ti­val, UK.

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