Theatre Speaks

Shaili Sathyu Theatre Speak

Which is the last good play you saw?

EVERY BRILLIANT THING (in real and online versions)

Your favourite adda to see a play...

Prithvi Theatre, because it is the closest to my house and I can literally walk down!

Your favourite playwright...

I don't have any particular favourite. I like Athol Fugard. Also, I read many plays for children and young adults.

Your favourite play-character...

Rani from CHARANDAS CHOR comes to mind.

The most hilarious play you have seen...

Recently (in the past couple of years) I really enjoyed NOTES ON CHAI.

A play, which is over-hyped...


A play character you would like to “dialogue” with...


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

Ha! I am very bad at remembering passages by heart. No wonder I am not an actor!

A classical play that you should have read...


How do you regard the Mumbai/Indian theatre scene?

I work in theatre for young audiences, so I usually look at the theatre scene through that lens. Unfortunately we do not have much exciting work happening in Mumbai. Indian theatre is a vast ocean and it's very difficult to really capture in a few lines. But we have a unique landscape of forms, languages and histories of performance. I find the range of possibilities very exciting and challenging, for artistes as well as audiences.

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

The Act of Becoming, by Amal Allana - it has chapters on Indian theatre artists, their journeys, choices and work. It is an extensive document that is informative as well as inspiring. We read the book at Gillo a few years ago, and the experience was very impactful for the team.

Can you recall an event that was insightful, significant or simply humorous during your theatre journey?

I remember Satyadev Dubeyji once told me that I should learn to choose the plays I work in. Either one should learn something new (from the director or the theme or the team of artistes or the form) or one should get lots of money or get lots of fame. Otherwise move on and take up another play.

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

In Dec 2019 I saw a performance in Oslo by Panta Rei Danseteater, titled EN SOM (Born To Live). It was a beautiful mix of dance and deep conversations about each character's past and present. I liked how the performance laid things bare, not afraid to talk about emotions and difficult pasts. And most importantly, it made the audience uncomfortable in parts. I think that is very important.

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

I like the work of several directors (in no particular order) - Sunil Shanbag, Anurupa Roy, Faezeh Jalali, Neel Chaudhari
Actors - B Jayashree, Sarita Joshi, Kumud Mishra, Yuki Ellias, Atul Kumar, Pallavi MD, Puja Sarup
Music - Amod Bhatt,
Designer - Arghya Lahiri,

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

Ratan Thiyam's plays.

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?

Samosa and chutney sandwich for me!

(Deepa Gahlot is a journalist, columnist, author and curator. Some of her writings are on
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