The Show Must Go On
Abhishek Majumdar, Junhi Han, Neelam Man Singh Chowdhry and Saurabh Shukla Moderated by Sanjoy K. Roy
The arts are seen to be an eternal and easy target to be brought under coercion with books being banned, films and series being challenged in court, theatre being targeted and visual arts being mutilated if it doesn’t support a particular narrative. In an in-depth conversation, we discuss the role of the arts in reflecting on contemporary issues and bring to the fore, key questions that impact society.
Abhishek Majumdaris a scenographer, playwright and theatre director. He is Associate Professor of Arts Practice at NYU Abu Dhabi and artistic director of Nalanda Arts Studio. His works have been produced around the world and translated to several languages. He has created works for the Royal Court Theatre, National Theatre, Playco New York, Ranga Shankara Bangalore, Jan Natya Manch Delhi, Yale Repertory. Currently he is on commission with theatres in London, New York , Bangalore and Abu Dhabi.
Junhi Han is the Chief of the Culture Sector, UNESCO New Delhi. She joined the UNESCO Cluster office for the South Asia Sub-region based in New Delhi in 2018, after having worked for more than 20 years at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris mainly in heritage management and conservation, notably in the World Heritage Centre. In Paris, she advised countries in Asia in their strategy related to World Heritage, and also developed a number of UNESCO’s flagship projects for safeguarding cultural heritage notably in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Pakistan as well as in Cambodia, and North Korea.
Neelam Man Singh Chowdhry
Presently Professor Emeritus at the Panjab University, Neelam Man Singh Chowdhry has an MA in the History of Arts as well as a diploma from the National School of Drama. In 1984, she moved to Chandigarh where she set up her own theatre company called The Company. She has also been the Chairperson and taught in the Department of Indian Theatre, Panjab University. Neelam is the recipient of several awards, including the Padmashree in 2011.
National Award-winner Saurabh Shukla is a celebrated actor, writer and director. He is famous for his roles in Satya, Slumdog Millionaire, Barfi!, Jolly LLB, Kick, PK, Jolly LLB 2 and Raid. Shukla began serious theatre in 1986. His recent plays, Two to Tango, Barff and Jab Khilu Khitab (which he wrote and directed) have been critically acclaimed at major theatre festivals in India.
Sanjoy K. Roy
Sanjoy K. Roy, an entrepreneur of the arts, is the Managing Director of Teamwork Arts, which produces over 33 highly acclaimed performing arts, visual arts and literary festivals across 40 cities across the world including the iconic Jaipur Literature Festival. He is a founder trustee of Salaam Baalak Trust, providing support services for street and working children in Delhi. Roy works closely with various industry bodies and the government on policy issues in the cultural sector in India, and has lectured and collaborated with several international universities.
Strategies for Cultural Venues
Arundhati Nag, Bruce Guthrie, H.E. Dinesh Patnaik, Shobha Deepak Singh and Tim Brinkman Moderated by Lillete Dubey
The pandemic brought to an end the primary role of the cultural venue and forced artists, producers, theatre companies and festivals to re-look at this symbiotic yet conflicted relationship and revalue the same. What is the role of the cultural venue? Should it be responsible for the curation and the development of an art form? Should it be a platform for young emerging artistes as in Brazil? Should it be reflective of diverse groups and the needs of the community as in the UK, France and Germany? Or should it be the high priest of cultural dispensation as in USA? Our panelists discuss this and more in a focused conversation around theatre venues and their responsibility to theatre and the arts.
Arundhati Nagis a theatre and film actress. She has been involved with multilingual theatre in India for close to 45 years and began her journey in the Indian People's Theatre Association (IPTA), Mumbai; she has done various productions in over 6 languages including Gujarati, Marathi, Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam and English. Arundhati is the force behind the conception of the theatre space dedicated to quality theatre in Bengaluru - Ranga Shankara. She is a recipient of the Sangeet Natak Akademi and National Film Awards and a Padmashree.
Bruce is the Head of Theatre & Film at the National Centre for the Performing Arts. He has directed plays and musicals in London, New York, and all over the world. He has worked with several award-winning actors, athletes and royalty (including British Lions Captain Sam Warburton OBE and the Prince of Wales) on large-scale charity events, fundraisers, and concerts. Bruce trained as a Director at the National Theatre Studio and under directors Howard Davies, Sir Richard Eyre, Deborah Warner & Sir Sam Mendes.
HE Ambassador Dinesh K. Patnaik is a career diplomat of the Indian Foreign Service with 30 years of experience in a variety of assignments. He has served in Indian Missions in Geneva, Dhaka, Beijing and Vienna. At Headquarters, he has served in the Europe West, External Publicity, Africa and UN Divisions. He was India’s Ambassador to Cambodia from 2012 to 2015 and India’s Ambassador to the Kingdom of Morocco from 2015 to 2016. He was Deputy High Commissioner of India to London from 2016 to 2018.
Shobha Deepak Singh
Shobha Deepak Singh has a degree in Performing Arts and a Diploma in Theatre Direction under the tutelage of E. Alkazi. She has studied dance from Shambhu Maharaj and Birju Maharaj and music from Biswajeet Roy Chowdhary and Ustad Amjad Ali Khan. Shobha runs an exclusive boutique Vastrashobha that specialises in heritage wear. Shobha’s role in the revival of Mayurbhanj Chhau remains exemplary. She was a member of the National Culture Fund of India, the Sahitya Kala Parishad and is a Padmashree awardee.
Tim has over 30 years of experience in the theatre sector concentrating on international and national performing arts buildings. He’s led several large-scale venues including being Director of the award-winning Hall for Cornwall in England and Chief Executive of Arts Centre Melbourne, Australia’s busiest performing arts venue. He is now heading the new cultural centre being built by RIL in Mumbai where he is responsible for devising the policies, overseeing the programming, recruiting the team, mobilising the centre and running from launch through to steady-state programming.
Lillete Dubey is a renowned film, television and theatre actor, and director. She has been the Artistic Director of The Primetime Theatre Company for 30 years and her theatrical work, both as actor and director, has received much acclaim nationally and internationally. She has been on the Expert Committee of the Ministry of Culture, on the jury of several theatre and film festivals, and is a trustee of Nrityagram.
Translations For Theatre
Jayashree Joshi, Mahesh Dattani, Maya Pandit, Naveen Kishore and Subhendu Sarkar Moderated by Deepa Punjani
India has a rich theatre heritage with Kerala’s Koodiyattam tradition and Kalidasa’s Abhigyan Shakuntalam and Bhavabhuti’s Uttararamacharita dating back to the 5th and 8th centuries CE. But, were it not for translations, many great and wonderful plays would not have had the reach and appeal that they have had in the country and abroad. Translating is a unique exercise but the act of translation for theatre is even more special. Join us for a deep dive into translations for theatre with our five panelists: Jayashree Joshi, Mahesh Dattani, Maya Pandit, Naveen Kishore and Subhendu Sarkar - as they enliven the subject with their first-hand experiences and specialised knowledge in this field. The conversation will be moderated by Deepa Punjani.
Jayashree Hari Joshi
Jayashree Hari Joshi is a published poetess, translator and theatre critic. She is skilled in various languages such as Sanskrit, German, Marathi, Hindi, and English. Jayashree has been working with the Goethe-Institut/Max Mueller Bhavan Mumbai for more than two decades. She has translated and published several plays, articles, essays, children's literature and poetry into Hindi, Marathi, English and German. She has coordinated an expansive poetry translation project: "Poets Translating Poets" and translated two original Turkish novels into Marathi.
Mahesh Dattani is a renowned playwright, stage director and filmmaker. He is known for plays like Dance Like a Man, Tara, Final Solutions, Where Did I Leave My Purdah, Gauhar and Snapshots of a Fervid Sunrise. He is also a Sahitya Akademi Awardee. He is the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Playpen Performing Arts Trust, Mumbai, a group committed to developing and producing new works of drama. He has recently completed writing a sequel to his acclaimed play Dance Like a Man, which he hopes to direct this year, when conditions allow.
Maya Pandit is a poet, translator, teacher, developer and an activist who has been involved with the women’s movement in India and the alternative theatre movement in Maharashtra for the last three decades. An accomplished translator, she works with Marathi and English and has translated several plays, autobiographies and fictional narratives across the two languages.
Naveen Kishore established Seagull Books in 1982 as a publishing programme in the arts and media focusing on drama, film, art and culture studies. Today, it also publishes literature, including poetry and serious fiction and owns the worldwide English-language publishing rights for books by Paul Celan, Ingeborg Bachmann, Jean-Paul Sartre, Thomas Bernhard, Imre Kertész, Yves Bonnefoy, Mo Yan, Mahasweta Devi, Peter Handke, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, among others. He is also a recipient of the Goethe Medal and the Chevalier Ordre des Arts et des Lettres.
Subhendu Sarkar is an Associate Professor of English at Ranaghat College in West Bengal and has lectured at various institutes of higher learning. He has extensively researched Badal Sircar's theatre and has translated two of his plays into English, which have been published by Oxford University Press. Subhendu has also worked on translation studies and published theoretical articles in books and journals that include articles on Bertolt Brecht's theatre, Marxism, Bengali theatre, Bengali nineteenth-century liberalism, modern Indian history, among other subjects.
Deepa Punjani has been engaged with theatre and theatre criticism since several years. Her M.Phil thesis (2005) studied the work of select Indian women theatre practitioners in the context of feminism and gender representation on the Indian stage. Deepa is also a lawyer and a legal journalist. In her latter role, she is keenly interested in the dialogues between the judiciary and civil society and in the intersections between law, politics, and culture.
Theatre Resurgence on Digital Platforms
Anil Makhija, Anurupa Roy , Rajat Kapoor and Shreyas Talpade Moderated by Yuki Ellias
The challenges of staging shows in closed physical environs with limited audience access have led to the major theatre owners and promotional companies including Andrew Lloyd Webber, National Theatre London, BookMyShow and META creating online platforms to showcase their best theatrical productions. Is this a viable alternative? Can theatre be adapted for screen? A free-wheeling conversation with digital platform programmers/theatre producers and practitioners about the challenges and opportunities in our new digital environment.
Anil Makhija is Chief Operating Officer for Live Entertainment and Venues at India’s leading entertainment destination, BookMyShow, offering not just tickets for movies and beyond but also experiences across theatricals, concerts, live events and sports. With an experience of over three decades across technology roles, Anil moved to BookMyShow in 2013 to lead the operations and service delivery verticals, while also overseeing deployment of new on-ground technologies at the firm.
Anurupa Roy is a puppeteer, puppet theatre director and puppet designer. She is the founder and managing trustee of The Katkatha Puppet Arts Trust, Delhi. She has a diploma in puppet theatre from the University of Stockholm and has been trained in traditional glove puppetry from the School of Traditional Glove Puppetry in Naples. She has been a guest faculty at the World Arts and Cultures at UCLA. A recipient of the Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar – a National Award for contribution to puppet theatre by the Government of India - she is currently one of the Trustees of UNIMA puppeteers Trust India, the Indian chapter of the Union Internationale de la Marionette.
Rajat Kapoor knew very early on that he wanted to be in theatre and make films. Better known as an actor, Rajat is essentially a filmmaker, theatre director and writer for whom theatre is a lifelong passion. He is one of the founder members of the Delhi-based group Chingari. Some of the plays he has directed over the last 30 years are: Deathwatch, Who is afraid of Virginia Woolf? Hamlet- the Clown Prince, Nothing like Lear, What’s Done is Done! and I Don’t like it-as you like it. Rajat is also a three-time winner of the National Award for Cinema, some of his films are Kapoor & Sons, Monsoon Wedding, Dil Chahta Hai, Mithya, Bheja Fry among others.
Shreyas Talpade is an award-winning theatre artist, actor, producer and director who started out acting in many Marathi soap operas and stage shows across Maharashtra. He is widely known for his performances in critically acclaimed films such as Iqbal, Dor, Om Shanti Om, Golmaal Returns, Housefull 2 among many others. Shreyas has been committed to theatre for over 15 years and has now entered the start-up ecosystem as an entrepreneur with the launch of his OTT platform, Nine Rãsã, exclusively designed for theatre and performing arts.
Yuki is an actor, teacher, corporate trainer, movement director and filmmaker. She studied theatre at Lecoq School, Paris, and LISPA, London. She is now Co-Convenor of the Drama School, Mumbai. She is founder of the innovative production company Dur Se Brothers, which has produced the successful shows Charge! and Yatagarasu. Her debut feature film Love You To Death as co-writer and actress won an Audience Choice Award at the Anchorage International Film Festival and the Royal Reel Award at the Canada International Film Festival in 2012. Yuki’s one-woman solo performance - Elephant in the Room - won three awards at META 2017.