Dr. Shweta Pendse Interview
The first ever Natya Velhal Marathi Theatre Festival is all set to be staged at The Royal Opera House, Mumbai, and it will be inaugurated with one of the most appreciated Marathi dramas, 38 KRUSHNA VILLA led and written by Dr. Shweta Pendse. She speaks about her excitement at performing for the first time at The Royal Opera House, changes of audience in theatre and advice to newcomers.

 By MTG editorial

How does it feel to be a part of the Royal Opera House Marathi Theatre Festival?
It's a great opportunity to perform, and I am really happy that 38 KRUSHNA VILLA, written by me, will be the inaugural play to be performed at the Royal Opera House. We are hoping to have a great show in the theatre.

Tell us something about the play.
38 KRISHNA VILLA is a different kind of play. It has broken the barriers of Marathi theatre. It's a real-time, two-character dialogue play, and after so many years, we are witnessing such kinds of plays in mainstream Marathi theatre. We have received a very good response from the audience till now, and we have been victorious in all the competitions, we have been receiving a lot of positive response and appreciation from the audience and critics, and it's a good play to watch.

Any plans to perform this play all over India?
Definitely yes, we are planning to perform 38 KRISHNA VILLA all over India. But before that, we will have our Maharashtra Tour. The kind of response we have been receiving from all the audiences has been fantastic, and we are expecting some good invitations as well.

What's theatre for you, and what's the learning from it?
It might sound very clich├ęd, but theatre is, to me, a breath of fresh air. I breathe theatre; that is where I live, and it gives me a high. So, theatre is something I cannot live without.

Talking about the learning process, theatre has taught me everything, be it patience, how to learn, how to be myself while playing the character, or how to be with it. It has taught me how important the audience is and how you should keep aside your personal life and just go and perform for the audience. It has taught me how difficult important things like sincerity and dedication are. So, I think theatre is life for me. It has also taught me how to live my life naturally, but the qualities which I have been helped to develop in my personal and professional life have helped me in my career.

How has theatre changed post pandemic?
Theatre and the response has definitely changed post pandemic. People are skeptical but still we can see audiences coming in theatre. Theatre is there itself, where it was. We have been performing the things we used to, but the perception of the audience has changed.

I can say one thing that I have observed: people have faced financial crises due to the pandemic. So, now I think they are a bit hesitant to spend on entertainment. That is what's stopping the audience, or they have become choosy. Audiences were watching five plays before the pandemic, but now they are watching only three. But I know this will go away and theatre will get its audience back. Also, content is affected. I personally feel that writers, directors have had ample time to think during the pandemic. So many innovative things have been created in direction and writing as well. So, it's very promising. Jaise hum bolte hai na, "Har buri cheez mein kahin na kahin shaayad achha bhi ho jaata hai, shaayad yehi hai woh."

Any other projects coming up as a director/writer?
I have no plans for directing as of now, but as a writer, I am already working on two more plays that are in the process.

Your vision for theatre in the next few years is...
To stay calm, have patience, and continue with your work, as this will take a bit of time to understand and get streamlined. So, you should not lose your heart. If the show is not houseful, it's ok. So keep doing your work with sincerity and dedication. But, I think that things will drastically change. I am very sure I can see the young generation coming into the theatre and being pulled into it. The theatre scenario will definitely change sooner or later.

Any advice to newcomers in the theatre?
My advice is to just be patient. You have to work with full dedication and patience. So, keep doing the work, be it in front of the audience or backstage (sets, lighting, etc.); you are doing everything creative.
The theatre is the only place I guess nobody is doing less work. The cast and crew of the plays winare equally important. Whatever work you do, do it with full dedication and don't go for the results. Even if you take part in the competition, don't worry about the results. Just try hard and work hard to be the winner, and if you don't win, don't lose heart and stop pursuing. Just keep on working and working, and theatre will give you the reward one day

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