Trained as a dramaturg at the Yale School of Drama, Rustom Bharucha is the author of several books, including Theatre and the World, The Politics of Cultural Practice, Terror and Performance, and the recently published Performing the Ramayana Tradition: Enactments, Interpretations, and Arguments, co-edited with Paula Richman. He was the Project Director of Arna-Jharna: The Desert Museum of Rajasthan and the co-Artistic Director, along with the late Veenapani Chawla, for the Ramayana festival at Adishakti, Puducherry.
With her company, Little Jasmine Theatre Project, Kirtana has created 15 original works of contemporary Indian theatre including Shakuntala (Bangalore/London), The Big Bolly Boo Hoo (Bangalore/Mannheim), The Retreating World/Last Tuesday and The Abhimanyu Project. Her focus has been on intersectional aesthetics, on taking the personal and deeply political into the performance sphere. With 35 year stage experience, Kirtana teaches Theatre and Interculturality at various institutions in Germany, including the University in Dortmund. She developed and organised two national symposia on Dramaturgy (at Jagriti Theatre) and Theatre Pedagogy for Children (at Ranga Shankara), respectively. At the start of the pandemic, in June 2020, together with Little Jasmine and Theatre Lab (Youth) she organised a national symposium called Because the World is YOU on Theatre Pedagogies for Children in Times of Zoom. Inspired by the possibilities of the digital stage, she later initiated an aural theatre series based on Sri Aurobindo’s Savitri, called In the Hour of God.
In March 2021 Kirtana was invited to be artist-in-residence by the Kulturreferat der Landeshauptstadt München. During this period she curated Global Karnataka, a festival of theatre from Karnataka for TEAM Theater, Munich and co-hosted a series of conversations on Grotowski and post-pandemic ideas for theatre and the arts along with Axel Tangerding at Meta Theater, Moosach. Her latest work – developed at Villa Waldberta, Munich – is a digital archive of communiqués between two women called Nagamma’s Letters and a book of short stories titled Bangalore/ Blue Balls & Groovy Chicks.
She is a trustee of Women Artists Group and runs Little Jasmine Theatre Project, Theatre Lab (Youth) and Infinite Souls Farm & Artists Retreat. She currently serves as chairperson of the Board of Trustees at Visthar Institute of Development, an organisation that works on issues on peace and social justice among marginalised groups including urban and rural Dalit youth.
Infinite Souls is right now preparing to serve a forthcoming residency for students of the advanced course of Drama School Mumbai.
founder and artistic director, Black Box Okhla, New Delhi
Nikhil’s theatre directing credits include Monsoon Wedding the Musical (Co-Directed with Mira Nair), For The Record (Winner of 6 Mahindra Excellence in Theatre Awards including Best Play and Best Director), The Shakuntala Project, Woyzeck and Katzelmacher.
Previously Nikhil was the assistant director for Sunday in the Park with George starring Jake Gyllenhaal on Broadway. MFA: Theatre Directing, Columbia University.
As Artistic Director of BBO, he has curated work by Anuradha Kapur, Deepan Sivaraman, The Australia Council for the Arts, The Alkazi Theatre Archive, Katkatha, Vishal Dar, Aagaaz Theatre Trust and India Art Fair.
Black Box Okhla (BBO) is a performing arts initiative founded in 2017. BBO programs new work, intercultural explorations and alternative experiences through a residency program. BBO invites artists working across all artistic mediums to devise experiences, experiment with different interactions and envision performances they haven’t been able to create anywhere else.
Note on Conversations.3 initiative
What is it to be told, without being spoken with or to, that one’s primary calling isn’t an essential service to society? What is it for the sociable to be denied the opportunity to congregate? What is it for the embodied creative to not have the opportunity to create? Whether self-imposed or state-enforced, over the past year we have dealt with isolation of different kinds in different ways. I consider it invaluable to engage with performance practitioners to ask and know how they’ve been over the past year. Therefore, this conversation series with practitioners and entrepreneurs whom I’ve been in touch with or moved by.
This program is my attempt at furthering conversations on the questions and perspectives presented by Kolkata based dramaturge, Dr. Rustom Bharucha in his 9-episode speech act tilted, Theater and the CoronaVirus, published in January (’21). Here’s the link to Dr. Bharucha’s work which offers a comprehensive historical perspective on the pandemic, performing arts and communities:
Each session has a panel of three participants, comprised of a young practitioner, a veteran and an entrepreneur (who owns/ manages a place of performance). The conversations, initiated and interspersed with Qs and largely propelled by the participants, would last two hours each. The Qs are generic based on the participants’ performance/ performative/ spatial/ theoretical/ creative engagements. Questions (such as, How have you engaged in your art over the past year? Are there shifts in your perspective with respect to your art? What are your ideas about the space for practise and performance considering what the world has been through in the last one year?) are intended as catalysts to the conversations with and between the participants.
The recordings of the five conversations will be edited and posted on this website – one episode every Saturday through the month of August.
I don’t consider it important for us to positively conclude conversations. Instead, it is perhaps far more important to simply congregate in whatever form possible and become responsive to the fireworks of ideas and insights lit up by the conversations.