a place for performance: session.5
Maya Krishna Rao
performer/ maker/ teacher
Maya is a theatre maker and teacher. She devises performances that range from dance theatre to comedy and live media. Her teaching practice focuses on the areas of performance making and applied theatre. Her long training in Kathakali in her childhood continues to be an inspiration in making contemporary performances.
Maya’s shows have travelled the world and she has been commissioned to create performances for prestigious theatre festivals at home and abroad. Some of her celebrated shows are, ‘Khol Do’, ‘The Job’, ‘A Deep Fried Jam’, ‘Heads Are Meant for Walking Into’, ‘The Non – Stop Feel Good Show’, ‘Are You Home, Lady Macbeth?’, ‘Ravanama’, ‘Loose Woman’ and ‘Walk’ that was created in response to the horrific gang rape and eventual tragic death of Jyoti Singh. The performance went viral on social network sites.
Since 2012 Maya has also been making performances at short notice – sometimes just a day – around issues of public concern, ranging from the threat to the RTI Act to mob lynching.
Maya taught in the National School of Drama for several years. Subsequently, she was professor in the Department of Arts, Design and Theatre at the Shiv Nadar University where she designed and taught a post-graduate Diploma TEST – Theatre for Education and Social Transformation. Currently, she is visiting faculty at Ashoka University where she teaches performance skills.
Maya was given the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Acting in 2010 which she returned in 2015, in response to the government’s indifference to rising intolerance in the country.
Since the lockdown Maya’s work has moved in new directions. She has created a pandemic character, Paru, who gives us her unique, sharply political (and funny) perspective on this changed world we find ourselves in through short podcasts. Maya has also created, along with a visual designer, a series of short videos on themes of current concern. Over the past year she has been invited by universities and other arts related institutions across the world to teach and give online talks.
LOCKDOWN STORIES: PARU
LOCKDOWN STORIES II
performer, director and teacher
Artistic Director, Improper Fractions, Delhi
Manjari Kaul is a performer, director, teacher and Artistic Director of Improper Fractions, a Delhi based Theatre group. She is a graduate of the DUENDE School of Ensemble Physical Theatre (Athens) and has a Masters’ degree from The School of Arts Aesthetics (JNU). She has taught at the DUENDE School 2018.
Some of Manjari’s latest directorial work includes Plan D, a Physical Theatre piece about death and absence (performed at the Sanatkada Festival 2019), The Two-Headed Lore, a piece examining the play of gender in mythology and fairy tales (performed at several venues in Delhi and Gurgaon), 00101010, an ensemble piece about identity in cyberspace (performed by the students of Srishti School of Art, Design & Technology, Bengaluru), UpRoute, a Devised piece about home and exile (commissioned by Instituto Cervantes) and a solo show, Chronicle of a Death Foretold; based on the novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez which has been performed in London, Athens, Delhi, Bangalore and Lucknow.
Improper Fractions came into being in the summer of 2012 as a group dedicated to exploring the incongruous, fragmentary, disruptive, off-key and awkward in theatre. It pursues the creation of possibilities for intersections and/ or parallel co-existence of different forms, patterns, languages of movement and speech; experimenting and playing with the strange as well as familiar concurrence and conjoining of imagination and reality. It is equally committed to introducing and nurturing theatre for the young – organizing workshops on storytelling, movement and improvisation for children.
Breathe: A movement poetry piece
Chronicle of a Death Foretold
Director, Shoonya Center for Art & Somatic Practices, Bengaluru
Thommen Ollapally is the Director of Shoonya – Centre for Art and Somatic Practices. He is also in the family property development business which builds apartment communities in Bangalore.
Thommen feels strongly about finding ways to help Bangalore’s artistic and cultural growth keep pace with its financial and technological growth. Thommen has dabbled in various art forms including metal sculpture, the classical guitar and theater. Some day he hopes to start a line of contemporized veshtis for the young urban Indian.
Founded in 2014 by the Ollapally family in memory of Joseph Ollapally, Shoonya is a non-profit, multi-arts centre in the heart of Bangalore on Lalbagh Road. A light-filled space surrounded by beautiful palm trees, Shoonya is envisioned to be a platform for art and somatic practices.
The center has been thoughtfully designed for people of different artistic disciplines and somatic practices to create, connect and collaborate. Shoonya offers a space for artists and the community to engage; an open and nourishing environment for people from diverse cultures and ages to impart knowledge and share experiences around creativity, performance, holistic health and education.
A space to learn, explore and experience, Shoonya seeks to further the growth of the arts and somatic practices through carefully curated programmes as well as by supporting practitioners and artists in meaningful ways. The center’s vision is to increase community participation in these areas and enable collaborations on a national and international level.
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.
© 2020. Design Pendulum.