This series of interviews was conducted while researching for the book, The Scenes We Made: An Oral History of Experimental Theatre in Bombay, ed. Shanta Gokhale (Mumbai: Speaking Tiger Books, 2015).
Veteran actor and playwright, Girish Karnad, in this interview with Sahapedia, discusses the influence that spaces such as Bhulabhai Desai Institute, Chhabildas and Walchand Terrace had on Indian theatre in the 1960s and 70s.
Coming from a very different experience in Dharwad, Karnad’s ideas about theatre were transformed by the towering personality of Ebrahim Alkazi. Ruminating on the lights, sounds and psychology of plays like Miss Julie, he describes how Alkazi’s plays triggered in him an impulse that took him back to his own roots. So Karnad, who fancied himself as an English poet then, poured out his celebrated play Yayati in Kannada.
Spaces such as the Madras Players, Chhabildas, Walchand Terrace and the National School of Drama created a universe where Indian playwrights translated each other’s work and responded to criticism. This, according to Karnad, fuelled the growth of a vibrant theatre scene and also allowed the people involved to have the confidence to believe that they can change the course of theatre in the country.