ANURADHA KAPUR, Director of the National School of Drama since 2007, combines scholarship in theatre studies with writing and directorial skills. She has collaborated with visual artists Vivan Sundaram, Nilima Sheikh, Arpita Singh, Nalini Malani and Ein Lall in staging Gora, Umrao, Romeo and Juliet, Lao Jiu and The Antigone Project. Her book Actors, Pilgrims, Kings and Gods looks at Ramlila to examine the Indian communitys negotiation with religious lore.
In this interview, she talks about the institution where she has been teaching acting and direction since 1981. Excerpts:
Students of medical or engineering colleges do not expect their alma mater to take care of them all their lives. Why do NSD students demand so much from their school?
They dont have problems of placement. Such insecurities of arts students can be answered only with structures of employment. Then the feeling that the school must do something for the rest of their lives will be less sharply articulated.
Ideas for launching drama schools all over the country have been floating around for two decades. Will this remain a pipe dream?
A broad-based vision committee met and suggested that regional centres must be launched in tandem with a repertory. I hope during my term as director it will begin to happen, starting at the Bangalore resource centre we have established.
What shifts would you like to bring in as the NSDs Director?
Revaluation of the syllabus, restructure in some areas. For example, direction and design must be separated with an extra year for specialisation? Strengthen the academic areas and see what a modern training institution can do to relate teaching to the contemporary world. Our students should be able to work with the language of the theatre in town or village, in every changing situation.
Bharat Rang Mahotsav 2008 celebrated 50 years of the NSD by showcasing the work of its alumni. Hardly any top-class productions here.
Look at it this way. Youre seeing cross-regional, cross-generation work. Many plays show the working conditions of these alumni, and with actors whove never done theatre before. We see theatre expanding in areas with other older, vibrant traditions, sometimes adapting them to contemporary structures.Gowri Ramnarayan