Theatre Speaks

Tushar Pandey
Actor and Director
[English and Hindi Theatre ]
Which is the last best play you saw?
NOTES ON CHAI by Jyoti Dogra. I watched GASHA by the Bangalore-based theatre group Indian Ensemble recently, and really liked the play for its honesty, simplicity, truthfulness and craft.

Your favourite 'adda' to see a play
Prithvi Theatre is great; love the energy there. G5A is another good space but little far to reach.

Your favourite playwright
Vijay Tendulkar / Sarah Kane /Harold Pinter

A novel/short story you would like to see on stage? Why?
I'm reading 'Asura' by Anand Neelakantan these days. I feel the world and perspective this novel creates is very profound. I'm thinking about putting something up inspired by these characters. Another one is 'A Country Doctor's Notebook' by Victor Bulgakov. There is a TV series on it, but a play would be interesting.

An important play (but ignored)
SUS by Barrie Keeffe, especially looking at the present scenario of our country.

A play character you would like to ''dialogue'' with
Puck (also known as Robin Goodfellow) from Shakespeare's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM

A passage from an important play that you can recite
Thou, nature, art my goddess; to thy law
My services are bound. Wherefore should I
Stand in the plague of custom, and permit
The curiosity of nations to deprive me,
Act 1, Edmund; KING LEAR

A classical play that you should have read
I haven't read a lot of Rabindranath Tagore's plays or novels, which I am very ashamed to admit.

A play that changed your perception about the theatre
Would definitely be PERCHANCE TO DREAM by Footsbarn (the world's largest travelling theatre). I saw it sometime I think in 2004 when I was in college. I was mesmerised by their craft, innovations and how they crafted Shakespeare on stage. I have never seen a better adaptation of Shakespeare anywhere else to date.

How do you regard the Mumbai theatre scene?
It's great, vibrant and a lot of work is being created. The best thing is that this city has a dedicated audience and I love the audience's energy here.
But I also feel that theatre groups and people are little reluctant to critique each other's work, which I feel is essential for good regular work to be generated.

Have you read any interesting books/articles concerning the theatre? Why did you find them interesting?
I would recommend 'The Moving Body' by Jacques Lecoq and 'Towards a Poor Theatre' by Jerzy Grotowski.

If you have ever been a part of a theatre production/s, can you recall an event that was insightful, significant or simply humorous?
I was playing the Vidushak in MRICHYAKATIKAM, a Sanskrit play by Shudraka; directed by K.S Rajendran. We were in the middle of a very important scene, and the director had designed that scene in such a way that all characters' dialogues were intertwined; hence if one actor skips his line, the scene would make no sense. And at this moment, one of the actors forgot his entry. To just incorporate all this and to still make the scene work was both hilarious and insightful. Somehow that one experience taught me so much about the scene. At the end, audience didn't realise that there was an actor missing.

Can you think of a foreign production that you found remarkable? Why?
A DOG'S HEART by Complicite, directed by Simon McBurney and SATYAGRAHA by Philip Glass. Both the productions have a tendency to impact the ambience of the space. I can still feel the chills thinking about few scenes from those two productions.

Your favourite director/actor/music or set designer
Director - Simon McBurney
Actor - Sabitri Heisnam
Music - Philip Glass

A significant Indian production that you may have witnessed
SAKUNTALA directed by G Venu. It is a Kutiyattam performance. Another is Cotton 56 POLYSTER 84, directed by Sunil Shanbag, and written by Ramu Ramanathan.

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