Theatre Speaks

Akriti Singh
Actor, Playwriter and Director
[English/Hindi Theatre ]

Which is the last good play you saw and why?

Manav Kaul's Mamtaz Bhai Patang Wale--with its original writing the play comes from a very deep place and hence touches the audience deeply. Also the scenes are conceived beautifully, incorporating shadow puppets enhances the story. Watching the play fills one with nostalgia.

Your favourite adda to see a play...

Prithvi Theatre

Your favourite playwright...

Mohan Rakesh and Dharamvir Bharti.

Your favourite play-character...

Radha in Dharamvir Bharti's Kanupriya.

A play you would like to see filmed. Why?

None. I don't think plays should be filmed. Films have a different grammer.

A novel/short story you would like to see on stage? Why?

'The Bell Jar' by Sylvia Plath. It is poetic, has layers more than the words can convey. It will be very challenging to make it into a play and hence it is worth a try.

The most hilarious play you have seen...

Bade Miyan Deewane by Rangbaaz. I have seen the audience fall out of their seats laughing while watching it. I am happy to be a part of it now.

A play, which is over-hyped...

Nothing like Lear

An important play (but ignored):

Bol. It is about languages and how languages have become a tool for divise politics.

A play character you would like to "dialogue" with...

I would like to have a word with Woody Allen in the play 'God'.

A passage from an important play that you can recite...

I can recite - 'O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?' ...any time

A classical play that you should have read...

I should have read all the Greek plays, maybe I will.

A play that changed your perception about the theatre....

Manav Kaul's 'Laal Pencil'. The play used actor's physicality to show the inner world of the characters beautifully. Also it was an devised performance, I could see how art is made richer by collective ideas of performers.

How do you regard the Mumbai theatre scene?

Mumbai theatre has wonderful, helpful and inviting people. There is a lot of camaraderie. What I wish it had more is - thrilling new writing, the kind that would force you think and more innovation in stagecraft. Opening of a lot of new alternate performance spaces can be helpful in trying these things. We will have to stop being scared and make innovative, new and thrilling theatre of our generation.

Have you read any interesting books/articles concerning the theatre? Why did you find them interesting?

I haven't found many books about theatre, maybe I haven't looked for them. Since it is an art of 'doing' - watching plays, talking to theatre makers, attending workshops have helped me in making plays. For writing - 'Monkeys With Typewriters' by Scarlett Thomas has helped me. It is an interesting book as it says writing a story is simple but a story that does not feel like a 'story' is the difficult part.

If you have ever been a part of a theatre production/s, can you recall an event that was insightful, significant or simply humorous?

Stage is a magical place and no one knows how the play will unveil despite very many rehearsals. The best moments on stage are when people forget. They might forget an entry, or a line or might skip entire monologues. All such memories are a treasure.

Once during my children's play 'Breadcrumbs' an actor forgot his entry, the other actor an accomplished improviser Gavin Methalanka kept improvising and entertaining the kids for a good 5-6 minutes (which in stage time could be counted as an hour) alone. His improvisation took the play to Shaktimaan and Doordarshan from where in the other actor joined and continued. It was hilarious for kids but it was a laugh riot later for the cast.

Can you think of a foreign production that you found remarkable? Why?

I have obsessively watched videos of the famous Broadway musical 'Hamilton'. I have also heard the songs a 1000 times if not more. It is full of energy - use of rap to tell the story is innovative and very suited to the story being told. The actors are marvellously skilled.

Your favourite director/actor/music or set designer...

Philippe Genty and Lin Manuel Miranada

A significant Indian production that you may have witnessed...

Sapan Saran recently did a street play that has been performed by women in countries across the world. It is against rape. It is a very powerful and significant piece.

Life in the theatre without the humble batata-wada or the cutting chai... or can you recall the best gastronomic experience you've had in the precincts of the theatre to date?

We went to perform Akavarious's 'A Special Bond' to Nashik. We stopped at a small restaurant to eat authentic Maharashtra food. The food was simply yumiliciousfull.
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