Theatre Speaks

Vivek Madan

Which is the last good play you saw and why?

Jyoti Dogra's BLACKHOLE. She's an incredible actor, and the story interwoven with the science fascinated me.

Your favourite adda to see a play...


Your favourite playwright...

Different days, different plays. I don't have a single favourite playwright.

Your favourite play-character...

Again, very difficult. Aziz and Azam from Girish Karnad's TUGHLAQ, OTHELLO. THE COMMON MAN in both Robert Bolt's MAN FOR ALL SEASONS and Manav Kaul's Shakkar Ke Paanch Daane.

A play you would like to see filmed. Why?

If I must pick one, I'd probably pick CRAB, by Ram Ganesh Kamatham. It would lend itself to some beautiful shots and some gut wrenching scenes.

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

I'd love to see a rigorous production of a good spy novel. It doesn't get done, maybe for obvious reasons... But it would be great to see how a team reimagine those locales, those scenes, those outrageous characters.

The most hilarious play you have seen...

There was a short Marathi play that Mohit Takalkar directed for Chhattees Ghante a couple of years ago. With Sagar Deshmukh and Jitendra Joshi. I forget the name, but it is absolutely hilarious.

A play, which is over-hyped...

Motley's THE TRUTH. The West End production of WICKED.

An important play (but ignored):

NO REST IN THE KINGDOM, written, directed and performed by Deepika Arwind and produced by Sandbox Collective. It should have more shows, it's a wonderfully written and performed piece, with powerful insights and novel interpretations.

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

None at all! I can't imagine what I would say. Good thing I'm not a playwright, I suppose.

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

From INHERIT THE WIND: "Progress has never been a bargain. You have to pay for it.

Sometimes I think there's a man who sits behind a counter and says, "All right, you can have a telephone but you lose privacy and the charm of distance.

Madam, you may vote but at a price. You lose the right to retreat behind the powder puff or your petticoat.

Mister, you may conquer the air but the birds will lose their wonder and the clouds will smell of gasoline."

A classical play that you should have read...


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

Royston Abel's MANGANIYAR SEDUCTION. Indianostrum's production of ROMEO AND JULIET, called CHANDALA, IMPURE.

How do you regard the Indian theatre scene?

On some days, hopelessly fragmented and mired in mediocrity; on others, capable of the most amazing feats of creativity and ambition with a staggering paucity of resources.

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

None spring to mind.

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

The Thespo screening panel I was on in 2017. Akash Mohimen and I toured 12 or 13 places across India, staying in strangers' homes, friends' homes, a hotel somewhere, watching 5-8 plays a day, meeting more than a 1000 young theatre people in 30-odd days. One of the most exhilarating experiences of my life and career.

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

A musical called Come From Away. It's about the time that 38 planes were rerouted to a small town in Newfoundland when US airspace was closed because of 9/11. It's one of the most moving pieces of theatre I have ever witnessed.

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

Director: Rajiv Krishnan. Actor: Yuki Ellias. Designer: Arghya Lahiri.

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

Aasakta Kalamanch's production of UNEY PUREY SHAHAR EK, the Marathi translation of Girish Karnad's BOILED BEANS ON TOAST. It was when I first understood what it meant for a play to have 'soul'.

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?

The akki roti (with gunpowder!) at Anju's Cafe in Ranga Shankara, the cold coffee at the Prithvi Cafe, are my comfort foods at these venues, especially when I'm setting up.

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