Theatre Speaks

Omkar Bhatkar
(Professor, Poet, Playwright, Painter, Curator at St. Andrews Centre Of Philosophy and Performing Art)

Omkar Bhatkar

Which is the last best play you saw?
SANGEET DEV BHABLI by Bhadrakali Productions.

Your favourite 'adda' to see a play
At a point of time it was Prithvi, now none.

Your favourite playwright
Mahesh Elkunchwar.

Your favourite play-character
Nandini or Loteshwari from WHAT A LOTA by Makarand Deshpande.
Sita from DREAMS OF TALEEM by Sunil Shanbag.
Interestingly both roles were essayed by Divya Jagdale.

A play you would like to see filmed. Why?
SAMUDRA, the Marathi production which has been adapted from Milind Bokil's novella 'Samudra'. I've seen the play thrice, when Spruha Joshi was acting in it. The play creates an enigmatic sea experience on the stage. The enigma comes from the lyrical writing that's super visual. And therefore, it's a stage play that has visual value for a film.

A novel/short story you would like to see on stage? Why?
Yukio Mishima's THE SAILOR WHO FELL FROM GRACE WITH THE SEA. It's a complex Japanese work and it would be visual treat to see it come alive on stage with the battalion of rebellious children and a mother and sailor trying to connect to each other like the sky and earth. The novel again like 'Samudra' is very visual in its writing as is poetic as well. This visual poetry to be told on stage, will be a dream.

The most hilarious play you have seen
I don't know. I'm not much of a comedy enthusiast.

A play, which is over-hyped
Many of the bigger productions that I've seen in the city.

An important play (but ignored)
SO MANY SOCKS by Annie Zaidi.

A play character you would like to "dialogue" with
Krapp from KRAPP'S LAST TAPE by Samuel Beckett.

A passage from an important play that you can recite
I can't recite as I don't remember them by heart.

A classical play that you should have read
NAGANANDA by King Harsha.

A play that changed your perception about the theatre
EQUUS by Peter Shaffer.

How do you regard the Mumbai theatre scene?
Absolutely Blooming.

Have you read any interesting books/articles concerning the theatre? Why did you find them interesting?
Scenography by Pamela Howard. The book provides deep discussions on space, text, research, art, performers, directors and spectators, and helps to examine the changing nature of scenography in contemporary times.

If you have ever been a part of a theatre production/s, can you recall an event that was insightful, significant or simply humorous?
Humorous, I can't remember. But a significant line that I shall never forget which my assistant said to me while we were working on IF MY DARKNESS IS LIGHT TO YOUR SOUL- a biopic on Mother Theresa's life. It was then she said after the play was over that, that working on the play like this made an atheist believe in God once again.

Can you think of a foreign production that you found remarkable? Why?
Instabili Vaganti's RAGS OF MEMORY (a production from Spain). I had seen it at NCPA a couple of years ago.

Your favourite director/actor/music or set designer
Director: Sunil Shanbag
Actors: Geetanjali Kulkarni, Divya Jagdale, Kalki Koechlin
Set Designer: May be myself :)

A significant Indian production that you may have witnessed
THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA directed by Sasidharan Naduvil. I remember seeing it for the Keli Theatre festival at Prithvi and I was spellbound by its sheer magnitude.

Life in the theatre without the humble batata-wada or the cutting chaiā€¦ or can you recall the best gastronomic experience you've had in the precincts of the theatre to date?
At our St. Andrews Centre for Philosophy and Performing Arts (SAPP) we once had sandwhiches that were simply delicious. I picked one and was engaged in talking to people around, discussing the reading. When I went back to pick up another, it had all disappeared. I despise Milk Tea. But, we have something called the Metamorphosis Tea, (my secret black tea). Anyone who has come to our rehearsals or has met me, they know it. It's a secret, so come home to taste it ☺
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