Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Company Theatre is celebrating 20 Years of excellence- an interview with Atul Kumar

Twenty years must be a long time- a long time to walk the journey of creating newness, of living excitement, of listening to claps and expressing yourself the way you want to. It has been a journey worth celebrating for The Company Theatre, which was founded by ace theatre person Atul Kumar in 1993. Here Atul shares his memories and vision for the celebration called The Company Theatre.

Nihal: Twenty long years of a journey called The Company Theatre! Who better than you can describe it, Atul. How would you like to sum up these twenty years?

Atul: 20 years full of excitement, life, ups and downs, but no regrets- only gratitude to hundreds of fellow artists and thousands of audience members all over the world, especially people who believed in our madness and joined hands in some way or the other.

Nihal: Which is that one moment which comes to your mind when somebody says ‘The Company Theatre’?

Atul: When I was sitting with Raza Sahib (the great Indian Artist) in Paris once at his flat and he was very angry with me that I did not chose a name that was Indian or Hindi for that matter- that I chose a name that reminded him of the British occupation! I could not say anything to him… I just went numb!
A scene from ‘Piya Behrupiya’, much acclaimed production of TCT

Nihal: In past decade or two you have occasionally collaborated with Rajat Kapoor as an actor and also as a director. How has it been working with Rajat, who is also your old friend, and also other friends?

Atul: Not only Rajat, but all artists one works with in TCT, are my friends. I don’t think it is now possible for me to work with people only professionally and not have an emotional personal bond with them. That is why we don’t really audition. We allow everyone to join us and then whoever becomes a part of the family and on whom we can trust and keep faith and agree to fail with, becomes a part of the family. So its not only Rajat, it’s many-many more people who are first friends then fellow artists. And to work and make theatre with friends is always a big party!
A scene from ‘Noises Off’ by TCT

Nihal: Is Atul Kumar a voracious reader as well? If yes, then what does he loves to read and what was the last book he read?

Atul: I used to read voraciously. No more. Now I watch a lot of cinema. I read a lot of non-fiction and mostly books on theatre. My most favorite these days and the last one is ‘An Actor’s Tricks’ by Yoshi Oida.

Nihal: Was there a plan ever in your mind when you were in college to create a workspace as you have created one in Kamshet? Was Kamshet accidental or well planned?

Atul: It has been a dream since last 15 years or more. I think it was always well planned. Only plans don’t go as they are planned. So lots of compromises and obsessive chasing the dream, but voila- it is finally there!

Nihal: What are your future plans for The Company Theatre? Can you tell us about the plays you plan to direct in the coming time for TCT?

Atul: We are working on the idea of Heer, also on Midsummer Night’s Dream, then again playing with the idea of object theatre and Haroun and the Sea of Stories- and a thousand more plays and texts and ideas which will only remain ideas in the life time!

This interview was first published in My Theatre Cafe on September 21, 2013

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