| Sanjna Kapoor at Seagull. Picture by Aranya Sen
While her father was hopping from one bookstore to another signing copies of his book, The Prithviwallahs, she quietly parked herself at Seagull Arts and Media Resource Centre in Bhowanipore that Saturday afternoon in December.
Surrounded by a sheaf of papers, the hazel-eyed daughter of Shashi and Jennifer Kapoor got busy working on the blueprint of hosting a theatre production in Calcutta.
In between grabbing a bite, calling up her father and taking an evening flight back home, SANJNA KAPOOR chatted with Reshmi Sengupta about why she has channelled her resources into nourishing and expanding Prithvi Theatre, the auditorium built painstakingly by her parents near the Juhu beach.
• Why have you chosen theatre when the rest of the Kapoor family is into films'
My grandparents, both Prithviraj Kapoor and Geoffrey Kendal, travelled across the country and abroad with their theatre companies. I have grown up with the romance of listening to their experiences. Prithviraj Kapoor used to tell me fascinating stories about the Nizam, the food and the smell' So, I was naturally drawn to theatre.
• What is the reason behind your hush-hush trip to Calcutta'
We will bring down Footsbarn, a travelling theatre company based in France, in February. The group will stage Perchance to Dream on February 13 and 14 at GD Birla Sabhagar.
The production is an amalgamation of extracts from various Shakespeare plays that Footsbarn has staged over the past 30 years. The plays include A Midsummer Night's Dream, King Lear, Hamlet, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet, portraying the seasons of life.
We have found a partner in the Seagull Arts and Media Resource Centre to present the shows. The Calcutta trip will be a part of the Prithvi Theatre Festival, which has already hosted Perchance to Dream in Mumbai and Bangalore.
My visit coincided with my father launching his book in Calcutta. He was very very surprised when I dropped in at Fairlawn Hotel where he had put up.
• Any special reason for showcasing Footsbarn'
Prithvi Theatre had presented Footsbarn to the Mumbai audience for the first time in 1995, which later travelled to Bhopal, Goa and Delhi. The nice thing about Footsbarn is that, unlike several other European companies, they don't pick up nuances from our traditional performing arts form and incorporate them in their productions, but also give something in return.
For instance, the company held a one-month workshop with theatre workers in Trivandrum during their India trip in 1995. And after the workshop, they chose five south Indian performers who joined the troupe and travelled with them all over Europe for shows.
Footsbarn has its roots in popular theatre and often perform in tents. They might hold a poster design workshop in Calcutta.
|Moments from Perchance to Dream
• What is the idea behind your initiative of taking productions to other cities and towns'
The idea is to create an alliance with theatre people across the country. At the 2003 Prithvi Theatre Festival, when we celebrated the auditorium's 25th anniversary, we had invited 300 theatre people from across India who interacted with each other for two weeks.
We feel isolated and so do theatre people in other parts of the country. We are hopeless at networking. But this is something we all have to do. It's very important for us to contemplate and talk about what we have done and what else needs to be done.
So from this year, we have started taking productions to other places. After Calcutta, the Footsbarn team will travel to Chennai, Delhi, Pondicherry and Trivandrum.
• You have been associated with Prithvi Theatre since it was founded. How has it grown over the years' What is your present role'
Prithvi Theatre is not just a building. It has acted as a catalyst in the process of creating professional theatre in the country. It's a set-up that provides various facilities, like subsidised rents, for the growth of theatre and for artistic survival. We also hold our annual festival and summer workshops which see great participation from artistes.
I live in Delhi with my husband and son, but work for Prithvi from there. I come over during events like the workshops and the festival.
• Why are you only behind the scene and not into acting'
Right now, I don't have the time to devote to acting. I miss acting and want to be on stage when I can rehearse really well. But my pet passion is to try and find a training base for actors.