Celebrating 60 years of theatre: Laxmi Chandrashekar’s remarkable journey from high school to solo performances

Theatre artiste Laxmi Chandrashekar who completes 60 years on stage talks about the ups and downs of her journey

January 29, 2024 10:52 am | Updated 10:52 am IST

Theatre artiste Laxmi Chandrashekar

Theatre artiste Laxmi Chandrashekar | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Theatre, cinema, television actor, and English Literature professor Laxmi Chandrashekar who is known for her remarkable solo performances such as Eddelu, Medea, Kittalemane Kaveri and Lady Minus Macbeth, and for her contribution to both Kannada and English theatre, recently completed 60 years in the theatre world.

To celebrate her 60-year theatre journey and 25 years as a solo performer, Kriyative Theatre Trust organised the Abhinetri Festival recently, showcasing three of her popular solo performances Singarevva and the Palace, Shakespeare’s Wife and Kaveri of Kittale Villa at the Indian Institute of World Culture, Basavanagudi and the Bangalore International Centre, Domlur. 

Still delivering sterling performances, even at the age of 73, Laxmi says her journey in theatre started when she was in high school. “I started acting in plays when I was in school and have never looked back. I moved to Mysuru to complete my PUC, and that is when my friends and I started our own amateur theatre group which continued into our college days.”

“I became serious about theatre sometime in 1967, when I joined Samatento, one of the earliest amateur theatre troupes in Mysuru. I was in the first year of college and most of my teachers and lecturers were part of this troupe.”    

Theatre artiste Laxmi Chandrashekar

Theatre artiste Laxmi Chandrashekar | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Laxmi, who has worked with well-known theatre directors and presented bi-lingual solo performances Hennallave and Singarevva mattu Aramane at numerous theatre festivals, universities and conferences on women’s issues in the country and abroad, says that after she married Dr B.K Chandrashekar she moved to Bengaluru.

Here, she joined the troupe at Samudaya where she did theatre for more than 20 years. Following that, Lakshmi wholeheartedly dedicated herself to theatre, balancing her commitment with literature instruction at NMKRV College, Jayanagar.

However, she wanted a platform for her solo performances, “As I started doing more performances, I needed an organisation that was under my control. Solo plays are tricky, some work and some do not; I did not want another troupe to spending its money on my productions. I wanted to fund my own plays. This was when I decided to start Kriyative Theatre in 2005, which has successfully produced many solo and non-solo performances till date.”  

“There are more pros than cons in doing solo performances. It gives one the freedom to explore. It helps me bring to the forefront the question about the identity, struggles, fight, exploitation of women. Most plays, including those of Shakespeare, sideline women — even Lady Macbeth does not have a name of her own. It might sound very simple, but these are important elements that have been practiced by theatre makers for long. I like to write and find opportunities to highlight these women through my plays,“ the artiste adds.  

Laxmi says her journey in the world of theatre has been a happy one for the most part. “The lows are when people do not turn up to watch you perform. Even for the celebration of my 25 years as a solo performer, it was hard to find a space that would let us have the festival and we were not sure if audiences would turn up. Thankfully, they did. Solo performances sometimes make you feel lonely and pressured. I am not getting any younger and when I commit to a show, I must maintain my health, my voice and my energy for days until the show is presented. But it has been a happy journey, and I have no regrets about.”    

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