f there was one thing the late acclaimed theatre personality Veenapani Chawla was clear about, it was that the institution that she had set up must not collapse for want of a new generation to take its ideas forward.
A while before Chawla had passed away (November 30, 2014) she had expressed confidence that the team at the Adishakti Laboratory for Theatre Art Research near Auroville was ready, says Vinay Kumar, one of the senior most and earliest members of Adishakti, who has since taken charge.
“Veenapani Chawla was clear that we must be able to think independently and differently. Actors need to define their own work. She wanted each one of us to write and direct our own productions. The Ramayana festival (2009) was a result of that. She insisted that we become self-sufficient in creativity,” says Mr. Kumar, who has also been central in the key works of Adishakti, including its expanding role in theatre research, having worked alongside Chawla in this.
A year since her passing, Adishakti has forged ahead and looks to redefine itself in a ‘new avatar’ while drawing strength from the philosophy and vision of Chawla.
Winner of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Puruskar for her contribution to Indian theatre as a director, Veenapani Chawla was considered a pioneer of experimental theatre in India.
On the creative front, Adishakti has decided to make its ‘Remembering Veenapani’ festival coinciding with her birth anniversary on April 5 an annual affair with an expanded line-up of programmes.
Their renowned Master Classes and Source of Performance Energy Workshops have continued in the last one year.
Adishakti has also planned a collaborative piece with a Belgian dance company, with workshops attended by 15 European and 15 Indian artistes.
With ‘Vision Veenapani,’ a fund raising initiative to ensure her ‘legacy continues and thrives’ and by holding performances outside Adishakti and inviting other theatre companies here, the team has some sort of a business plan for the future, says Mr. Kumar.
“We have pulled ourselves together,” he says.
Chawla’s mentorship over the years has provided Adishakti its strength.
“Her legacy pushes us to work harder, to take her vision ahead. As actors, if we can even achieve five per cent of what she has, then our work is done,” says Mr. Kumar.
Her legacy pushes us to work harder, to take her vision ahead. As actors, if we can even achieve five per cent of what she has, then our work is done
Vinay KumarSenior most and earliest member of Adishakti