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Imagining a tragedy

SERISH NANISETTI
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People Trainer, director, theatre maven David Zinder thinks a little too differently as he re-imagines the theatre experience

Listen up David Zinder: ‘I like to do classics because they have great stories and lend themselves to multiple ways of telling' Photo: Nagara Gopal
Listen up David Zinder: ‘I like to do classics because they have great stories and lend themselves to multiple ways of telling' Photo: Nagara Gopal

D avid Zinder is not your everyday theatre director who is happy to do commercial productions, search for a big star cast and then sit back and count the greenbacks.

He creates experiences, he plays with the narration of original plots, he surrounds his audience with his sets and he trains his actors to do so. Dressed like Steve Jobs does on the day he launches Apple products, his black tee pulled up to his forearms, Zinders says: “For me theatre is an art form and I didn't want to do what TV does better: realism. I think and I want my audience to think. Theatre should be more than imitation of life.”

Anecdotes galore

Conducting a workshop in Hyderabad, Zinder spoke about his driving passion that happens to be imagistic acting that he evolved intuitively and what was developed by Michael Chekov. “One day, Michael Chekov, who was the nephew of Anton Chekov, was told to act by his tutor Stanislavski. The method acting required the actor to tap the recesses of his mind for a similar emotion and play it out. Michael told the story about his father's funeral in such a moving way that everyone in the class was crying, including Michael. A few days later Michael was removed from the school because his father was very much alive.

He had just imagined it,” says Zinder, giving an insight into the difference between his ImageWork and Chekov school of acting and Stanislavski's method.

Not surprisingly, the plays directed by Zinder happen to be radically different experiences. He calls them adaptations or recreations to steer clear of pedants. For Lorca's “Blood Wedding” he had two actors playing multiple roles.

For another play he started the play with the last scene. Zinder calls the legendary “Dybbuk” as his first play. His ImageWork gathered momentum when Zinder directed the Yiddish “Dybbuk” where a boy dies and enters the lover's body as a spirit. “It had to show extreme passion as the soul is wrenched out despite the fact that the girl doesn't want it to happen and the actors had to go through it. Unless the actors were physically prepared this would not have happened,” says Zinder. “I like to do classics because they have great stories and lend themselves to multiple ways of telling.”

Zinder is not just a director; he trains theatre artistes.

For a man who taught at Tel Aviv University and studied at Manchester University, he practices his craft in Romania. “In Israel, 95 per cent of theatre productions are melodramas and sitcoms. There is no place for my kind of theatre in Israel. In Eastern Europe, the scene is different. People are interested in theatre that makes them think,” he says.

Is India ready for this kind of theatre? “You have to tell me. I don't know. There is a lot of interest in what I am doing. But for this kind of theatre the audience has to be a willing partner,” he says.

SERISH NANISETTI

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