Theatre Speaks

Ishitta Arun

Which is the last good play you saw and why?

SHIKHANDI. The writing stood out. The staging was simple and made great use of the stage.

Your favourite adda to see a play...


Your favourite playwright...

Old- Hindi - Mohan Rakesh, Dharamvir Bharati
New Hindi - Ila Arun, Adhir Bhat
Marathi - Nipun Dharmadhikari

Your favourite play-character...

Master ji - GAA RE MAA
Dagdu Aba Shetey, Tukaram Jadhav from DALAN

A play you would like to see filmed. Why?

GAA RE MAA. Writers: Adhir Bhat -Siddharth Kumar. It is a music based story with interesting characters and relationships of mother and sons at its heart, with Mumbai as the backdrop. It will make for a great digi movie.

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

Palace of Illusions, Chitra Banerjee Divkaruni. Would love to see Draupadi's version of things on stage either as a massive production or a deconstruction new age version directed by a female director ...

The most hilarious play you have seen...


A play, which is over-hyped...


An important play (but ignored):

PEER GHANI - Surnai Theatre

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

Elida from LADY FROM THE SEA by Ibsen.

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

From MAREECHIKA (Adaptation of LADY FROM THE SEA ) In Marwari

Bahut der se sunti aa rahin hoon aa mero faislo hai, mero phaislo hai
Mhari jindagi ke bare main phaislo kar re hak sirf mharo hai
Yeh mhari zindagi hai
Main Kaanch ri Gudiya koni vise raid kar Gudiya Ghar main Rakhola
Mhari bhi away hai mhara bhi vajood hai

A classical play that you should have read...


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


How do you regard the Mumbai theatre scene?

It's not easy to put up productions here. The performing spaces are few and far and over priced and over booked . It's not conducive for new production houses to put up plays as it's not about theatre but more pomp and glamour and big names, that requires a lot of capital and with few sponsors already in bed with established production houses, new productions and producers are far and few. As a result we see the same names doing the rounds. Established production houses who don't require funding are the ones readily getting it while the ones who actually require backing and a decent platform find it difficult to get funding. Prithvi is perhaps the only place in Mumbai that lends credibility and a platform to new productions due to its small format.

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

I have been reading a lot of plays. New writers and older ones. Alan Ayckbourn, Play Writing by Steven Jeffers, The anatomy of a story by John Truby. There's a science to crafting a great play. The story and structure it rests on. It is great to learn new things and age old ones and discover your own voice in the process.

Can you recall an event that was insightful, significant or simply humorous while working on a production?

Oh wow! I've grown up in a theatre group. So been privy to all things theatre and the one thing that stands out are rehearsals. The best time, in my humble opinion, is when a play takes on a life of its own. Rehearsals with KK (Raina) have been the most memorable - getting yelled at for not being on time. The one thing he has always said and has stayed with me is: " It's all in the lines. Read your scripts."

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

THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG. I saw it in London and right from the word go it was hilarious. The staging and stage craft, how the on and off stage are seamlessly intertwined, physical comedy, the sets, all were just so well done. It was funny without being over the top.

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

Director - Nipun Dharmadhikari , Aalok Rajwade, Naseeruddin shah, Ila Arun, KK Raina
Actor- Abhay Mahajan
Music - Dhruv Ghanekar , Ila Arun
Set - Sumant Jaikrishnan

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

MUGHAL-E-AZAM, directed by Feroz Khan

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

The best for me has been home made dabba's and sharing different food with all actors. Bharati Achrekar is a champ in getting home made food. I usually bake for my cast.
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