Theatre will always exist but on the fringes: Kalki Koechlin on World Theatre Day
With the rise of OTT platforms in this digital age, one might be alarmed about the future of theatre, but Kalki Koechlin isn’t. Having been part of over 20 plays, the actor says that points out that, “it has survived many technological revolutions in entertainment”. She says, “Theatre is one of the mediums which will always exist but on the fringes. If you look at Shakespeare’s time, it has been a tool for subversion, a way to put out information which is beyond it’s time which can’t be done in a commercial format. Theatre is great way to put political and social expressions. That’s why it will never die and I don’t think any new medium will be a threat to theatre. However, digital content is not making it easier for theatre either.” Kalki is happy with the growing number of digital shows as they “pay well and in turn allow actors to do theatre” without worrying about money.
Comparing theatre to other formats- films, television and now, the digital medium- the Gully Boy actor says, she will always be in love with theatre. She adds, “Doing theatre is quite a process. It engages your body and your mind, all at once. It is like going to the gym. It makes you quite alert as an actor, I feel. When you are shooting a film or a digital series, you have longer periods of waiting in the vanity van, with few shots to shoot a day. While, every time, when you prep for your performance, you do an hour of warm up, voice exercises, yoga and other activities to get into the mood. We have to immerse ourselves into the process and only then do we go on stage to perform. I agree, it is still a big struggle to do independent theatre in India. You just about recover your cost, but thankfully, of late, there are some alternative spaces coming up in Mumbai, which enables a low production cost.”
Kalki has acted, co-written and directed plays including Trivial Disasters, The Real Inspector Hound, Hair, Hamlet the Clown Prince among others. She bagged the MetroPlus Playwright Award for her play, Skeleton Woman (2009), and made her onstage directorial debut with Living Room (2015). Ask her about the most favourite play in her career and she says, “In 2016, I did an adaptation of Caryl Churchill’s Far Away, directed by Rehaan Engineer. We rehearsed for two weeks non-stop in a house outside Mumbai and then performed. So, it was quite an immersive experience. My character’s life is shown in three stages. I played a nine-year-old girl, 22-years-old and lastly, a 40-year-old woman.”