CHATLINE Scenographer Nissar Allana tells PHEROZE L. VINCENT how he is forever searching for newer solutions to the age-old problems of theatre
Ever found yourself bored in theatre imagining what you could do with the lights, the sets or, the play itself? If you’ve ever left a theatre with nothing left to think about, then you have a friend in Nissar Allana.
Nissar Allana’s Dramatic Art and Design Academy and the Norwegian Embassy organise the Delhi Ibsen Festival (DIF) which features plays of Henrik Ibsen performed by a range of avant garde troupes and directors from across the world.And, why avant garde? Because that’s the only way Allana would have it — to connect Ibsen to the Indian context and allow adventurous dramatists to catalyse the evolution of contemporary Indian theatre. Five of the seven plays, to be staged from December 1 to 7, are new plays commissioned for the fest.
“We are engaging with the post ‘post-colonial’ generation. They have a very different sensibility,” explains Allana. The first generation of post-Independence dramatists, like Utpal Dutt, Sombhu Mitra, Shyamanand Jalan and Allana’s father-in-law Ebrahim Alkazi, were greatly influenced by western theatre and the constructivist movement. The generation that followed and gained prominence in the ’70s, returned to roots using folk theatre and music. These included giants like Ratan Thiyam and Habib Tanvir.