Maya Krishna Rao in Loose Woman. Golam Ashraf.
Maya Krishna Rao
On a daily basis, we are getting proof that artistes are having to tell themselves that, whether they like it or not, they are a part of a larger community that is being affected by very dangerous laws that the government has passed. The recent events at Serendipity Arts Festival in Goa, where artistes were arrested and certain works taken off from an exhibition, proves the same. We artistes have to find very, very inventive ways of expressing the deepest things that lie in people’s hearts beautifully through our artforms. I think, sometimes the artiste is not going to have the luxury of panning, scripting or rehearsing, but has to respond. What we consider safe artistic spaces are no longer safe for us and artistes may be picked up and taken to the lock-up. We will still look to people who support. We will continue to make works that we hope arts spaces will welcome because it is about keeping up a larger debate.
Neelam Man Singh Chowdhry
Neelam Man Singh Chowdhry’s Gumm Hai.
Whatever you do is influenced by the winds that are blowing around you, emotionally and politically. I have recently done a play, Gumm Hai, which I am bringing to the Bharat Rang Mahotsav, the annual theatre festival of the National School of Drama in Delhi in February 2020. It emerged from my own loss of my husband 10 months ago, but people who watched it started relating it to Kashmir. I am not an activist but my means of expression is theatre. When I feel that I cannot contain myself, where does it come out? It comes out on stage. Gumm Hai is about loss and grief and is adapted from The Seven Stages of Grieving, a performance text by Wesley Enoch and Deborah Mailman, which talks about the history of the aboriginals. But people saw their own stories in it.
Gowri Ramnarayan’s What She Said.
What She Said, a production that highlights six voices from the Ramayana premiered last week and will be our focus in 2020. Who are the women whose stories we don’t hear much of? In case of Urmila, we have one line in the epic. Shanta, Rama’s sister, we have not even heard of. She was given away in adoption by Dasaratha. The other women are Manthra, Mandodari and the wife of Bali, Tara. The play is largely monologues, by three actors, but very physical as well, with other women playing cameos in each.
Deepan Sivaraman’s Ubu Roi. S Thyagarajan
The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, a play by Bertolt Brecht, was a response to Adolf Hitler’s fascist regime taking control of the state machinery. I am looking forward to directing this piece. The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui is about how crony capitalist and political mafia take over the country and nobody else has a say. They are a huge mafia, a killing gang. In 2011, I did a show of Ubu Roi, a revolutionary play by Alfred Jarry, and I feel the need to reproduce it again. I feel it has become an important work again in a new context.
If the events of 2019 are anything to go by, I believe 2020 is going to be a year of great significance in our history. Our immediate future is at stake and I would really like my work to reflect some of the questions that confront us as a society. I have a special interest in history and I hope to be part of a project that looks at the appropriation of people’s history, folk culture, and making visible voices that speak of reason and an equal society.
Technology is going to redefine every aspect of our lives. We are on the verge of a revolution, where technology will redefine human history itself, with Artificial Intelligence doing things better than human beings and without any error. But I think the only possibility or skill that humans can do better is fiction-making. Technology, at a conscious level, is zero. I am seriously thinking of a reality show-kind of play that fuses fiction and feature actors with non-actors as participants.