Thespo Recommends

February 2019

Purva Naresh’s Reading List

purva-naresh photo For Feb INK

Born in Lucknow, Purva Naresh is a Playwright, Director, Kathak dancer, Percussionist who has been part of several plays starting from Afsaneh, Bai se Bioscope Tak, Ok Tata Bye Bye, Aaj Rang Hai, Bandish, Ladies Sangeet and has adapted plays like Umrao and more currently Pink Saari Revolution. She is an FTII graduate and runs her own Theatre company, Aarambh.

Let’s see the list of plays Purva has to recommend the youth as a must-read.



Hayvadan by Girish Karnad

The play Hayavadana is based on the idea that humans are imperfect and thus have a number of limitations. The play also deals with woman emancipation.




Sakharam Binder by Vijay Tendulkar

Sakharam Binder, the protagonist, thinks he has the system by the tail and he can disregard the culture & societal values as long as he is truthful. That system is the de facto enslavement of women in postcolonial India, despite the promises of democracy and modernity.


Begum ka Takia by Anand Kumar

It is a play of morality which revolves around two brothers. The elder is greedy and dishonest; the younger one is honest and follows a high moral code in his life. The elder brother prospers and the younger suffers. Even in the face of misery and misfortune, the latter never compromises with his high principles.

Ghidhade by Vijay Tendulkar

The play begins with Rajninath long poem which ends with an invocation to god. Through the long narrative, we understand that twenty-two years have passed during which the incidents depicted in the play took place.



Sneak Peak into Geetanjali Kulkarni’s Reading List

GK 1An alumni of National School of Drama (1996) who has worked extensively in Marathi and Hindi theatre. She is well known for the plays: Mukkam Post Bombilwadi, Sangeet Debuchya Muli, Sex Morality & Censorship, Ek Rikaami baaju and Dreams of Taleem, Mummtazbhai Patangwale, Haath Kya aaya?….Shunya. Her more recent works include Mohit Takalkar’s Gajab Kahani and Atul Kumar’s Piya Behrupiya.

She opened up the Pandora’s box of plays that any young theatre enthu cutlet should definitely read! It includes all the ‘musts’ of theatre, be it Tendulkar, Karnad or Beckett or Brecht! However, 3 plays that stood out:


Pagla Ghoda by Badal Sarkardownload (1)

A brilliant play woven around the simple premise of four men from different walks of life chatting at the funeral of a young woman.



Urubhangam by Bhasarecommendation.jpg

Urubhangam focuses on the story of the character Duryodhana during and after his fight with Bhima. Although Urubhangam contains the same core storyline as that in the Mahabharata, Bhasa’s altering of certain aspects results in a different presentation of the story.


Viccha Maajhi Poori Kara by Vasant Sabnis331f365780a446d981c5d998521ae536.jpg

This famous folk play was written by Vasant Sabnis and especially for Dada Kondke, the famous Marathi actor. It was designed for urban viewers while keeping the rural punches intact. The play follows the format of a Tamasha.



Nimi Ravindran’s Reading List

I am assuming (perhaps wrongly) that every theatre enthusiast no matter how young has11698918_10205367651683021_4013687548310878609_o 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, downloadthe 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

Hayavadana-copy 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-kannada-play-by-dramanon-lshva-studio-koramangala-bengaluru2Akshayambara 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!


2771_Aadhe-Adhure_lAadhe 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.


8aa3d025e8724519901fb2b864ad7f29Ghashiram 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.



 9788170460596-usMahanirvan: 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 favourite 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.


the-pillowman-gqidhfxg.xpf final

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

Akash“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 BharatiAndha Yug

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:Crucible

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):

Remember DayA 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.