22 June, 2021

Dramatis Persona

Ebrahim Alkazi 1925-2020
Dramatis Persona

One of my most vivid and precious memories of Mr Alkazi is of him standing at the door of the Studio Theatre in Rabindra Bhavan. It was the mid-1960s and I was still in Modern School. I can’t quite remember the play but his striking presence still comes through the fog of the ages clear as day. But before I describe that memory, I’ll take a detour and set the context around the memory. The most extraordinary productions of the NSD directed by Mr Alkazi had already been staged: Tughlaq, Lehron ke Rajhans, Ashadh ka Ek Din. And I had already seen Andha Yug at Ferozeshah Kotla.

That legendary performance at the old Tughlaq fort made me recognise how site can profoundly imprint a text, and how text can equally, profoundly, imprint a site. The memory even today is so strong that its material atmosphere rises up fully formed in my head: a very spare scenography that took my attention to the very physicalness of the ruins. As we know, ruins tell us about then and now; they are remains of the past, but because they have survived,...

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