Nimi Ravindran’s Reading List
I am assuming (perhaps wrongly) that every theatre enthusiast no matter how young has already studied Shakespeare in school, in English or in translation. I am also assuming that they have read a little of Beckett (at least “Waiting for Godot” and “End Game”, and maybe even a Greek Play or two. If they haven’t, they must. If someone says, ‘none of the above’ then I’d ask them to start by reading a book titled “Theatre: A crash course”. The book is extremely informative and hilariously funny. It helps set context for anyone coming in blind into this wonderful world. I’m going to go with three plays from India that I think everyone should read.
Andha Yug by Dharamveer Bharati
The play that defined modern Indian Theatre. Written in 1953, the action takes places on the last day of the 18 day war of the Mahabharata. The anti-war play talks about the loss of life and about how everyone loses in a war, referring to post -partition trauma in India. This is a must read/watch for anyone interested in Modern Indian Theatre.
Hayavadana by Girish Karnad
Karnad is arguably the greatest Indian playwright of our times. His Hayavadana and Nagamandala are masterpieces that draw from Indian folklore. Hayavadana is the story of the two transposed heads, the choices one makes, and the never ending debate on whether the mind is superior to the body.
Akshayambara by Sharanya Ramprakash
One of the most exciting works to be staged in recent times. Sharanya explores what it takes for a young woman like her to enter a male – dominated arena like Yakshagana. The play is highly engaging, extremely provocative with a wonderful sense of humour and pathos. Most importantly, it also provides a much-needed female point of view in the contemporary theatre.
And, because three is too little I would also highly recommend Irawati Karnik’s Gasha, Abhishek Majumdar’s Kaumudi, Neel Chaudhury’s Taramandal and Still, and Still Moving and Swar Thounaojam’s Fake Palindromes.
Nimi Ravindran is a writer, theatre director and producer. She is also the co-founder of Sandbox Collective, an arts collective that creates, produces and curates performances and arts festivals across the country and Internationally.
Dr.Mohan Agashe’s Reading List
Dr. Agashe has been associated with theatre since his days at the B.J Medical College, Pune. Playing some of the most iconic roles in plays like Ghasiram Kotwal, Begum Barve, Katkon Trikon, he has created a niche for himself in theatre.
One of the biggest notches in his belt, was when he brought the German concept of GRIPS theatre to India. GRIPS is the first kind of theatre worldwide to deal socio-critically with the lives and living conditions of children and young people and to incorporate this in original, humourous and musical plays. This edition, we bring to you the selected plays from the veteran’s book shelf!
Aadhe Adhoore: Mohan Rakesh
Written over 40 years ago, this play was one of the rare ones that wasn’t just woman centric but explored the story from the perspective of the woman characters.
Ghashiram Kotwal: Vijay Tendulkar
This play is a unique experience in itself. Written as a historical drama, it comments upon modern, and presently relevant political scenarios.
Mahanirvan: Satish Alekar
Translated in English as the ‘Dread Departure’, this plays explores death but as a black comedy. It uses an almost scientific, cold approach but through humour.
These are the plays that I believe everybody should read, especially the youth in theatre. These are plays that should be read for their seminal contribution to the theatre world. Plays whose writing transcends barriers of time and language.
– Dr. Mohan Agashe
Rahul da Cunha’s Reading List
Rahul is one of the golden trio that lead Rage – one of the leading theatre companies in Mumbai. Founded in 1992, Rage has brought to audiences fine productions like ‘Love Letters’, ‘One for the road’, ‘Steel Magnolias’ and several others. Director Rahul Da Cunha has directed several successful plays like ‘Class Of 84’, that has already completed 100 shows in one year. Actively Participating in the Writer’s Bloc Festival at Prithvi and the NCPA, Rahul Da Cunha has written and directed ‘Pune Highway’. This month, he brings us his four favorite reads.
Harold Pinter’s ‘The Birthday Party’ tells the story of several characters at an English seaside boarding house. Seemingly innocent situations spiral out of control as the characters’ monotonous lives descend into chaos
Like Pinter’s earlier plays, Old Times deals with bare essentials. There are only three characters: a man named Deeley, his wife Kate, and Anna, a friend of Kate’s whom they have not seen for twenty years. Beneath the surface of their taut, witty conversation lurks suggestions of darkness, until the present is overwhelmed with intimations of some frightening past.
Winner of the 1984 Pulitzer Prize, David Mamet’s scalding comedy is about small-time, cutthroat real estate salesmen trying to grind out a living by pushing plots of land on reluctant buyers in a never-ending scramble for their fair share of the American dream.
Speed-the-Plow is a play written by David Mamet. It is comprised of three lengthy scenes involving the corporate dreams and strategies of Hollywood executives. there’s hardly a line in it that isn’t somehow insanely funny or scarily insane.It is a scathingly comic play.
Dark and grizzly, The Pillowman by Martin McDonagh (In Bruges & Seven Psychopaths) opens in a prison cell where a young writer, Katurian, is being questioned about the children’s tales he has written – grim tales which have inspired copycat killings in the streets outside. Mixing comedy and dread, two interrogators tease out the resemblance between real and fictional worlds while probing the personal responsibility of the writer and his brother.
Akash Mohimen’s Reading List
“It’s always a difficult task to recommend plays, to read and to watch. There is a heavy personal baggage we carry into our affair with any text. One man’s masterpiece might be another’s blasphemy.
So after a fair bit of thought, I decided to make my list, relevant to our modern day society, an increasingly polarized society, brimming with violence and hatred, and always a spark away war. Dramas which were written in another era, but are as relevant to 2017, as ever before.
In an effort to be diverse, I have attempted to select texts from 3 different continents with stories set in 3 very different time periods and 3 different languages. ”
Andha Yug by Dharamvir Bharati:
Any play built around the Mahabharata will always be interesting. But then address the arguments about the politics of war, vengeance and destruction, and one could easily place the story in any decade of the 20th century, and more so in 2017. Add to it the madness of the people with the weapons at their disposal and the violence committed in the name of the greater good. The original Hindi text, written in the form of verse was initially a Radio Play. The five-act play begins on the 18th day at Kurkshetra and culminates in (Spoiler Alert) death of Kirshna.
The Crucible by Arthur Miller:
From the mind of one of the grand daddy’s of modern playwriting, The Crucible was Miller’s middle finger to the prevalent, McCarthyism in America in the 1950s. It had the entire package: an allegory, an historical event, a political statement and emotionally engaging characters. It is a dramatized story of Salem witch trials, which took place in Massachusetts in 1692 and is primarily built around the conflicts of John Proctor. Over 60 years since it was first performed, the play is as relevant in today’s world of half-truths, malicious mud slinging and blind faith, which lead to destruction of lives and society.
Remembrance Day by Aleksey Scherbak (Translated by Rory Mullarkey):
A story set in modern day Latvia, is an outstanding look into how interpretation of history shapes our society. Latvians, who fought for the Third Reich halted the Red Army, are hailed as heroes and parade through the streets of Riga every year. But when young Anya, a political activist, protests this practice, a political turmoil ensues, and questions what it truly means to be patriotic. Remembrance Day has a strong emotional core, and plays out as a thriller with the socio-political environment a ticking time bomb, about to destroy the families and friendships.