A life inspired by the art of theater

Published On: May 26, 2017 11:00 PM NPT By: Prasansha Rimal

KATHMANDU, May 26: Born in 1955, Feisal Alkazi grew up in a flat in Mumbai which had theater in the roof of its building. Born to a father who later became the director of National School of Drama, Feisal as a child was automatically exposed to the world of theater. It was after completion of his school that he decided to form Ruchika Theater Group with his friends, through which he has been continuing his father’s legacy for the past 45 years.

Ruchika Theater Group is here in Kathmandu to conduct actor’s workshop for children as well as adults and to perform ‘A Quiet Desire’, a play based on the life of young Rabindranath Tagore on May 27 and May 28 respectively. The play is presented by BP Koirala Nepal-India Foundation, Embassy of India. Feisal, here, talks about the play and sheds light in the world of theater.

How and why did you get into theater?
My father was the director of National School of Drama in India. Even before he took that job he used to run an active theater group. I grew up in a house where there was frequent theater activity taking place. We had a theater in the roof of our building and used to rehearse in one big room which I even used to use as my bedroom. I got influenced by my parents to take up theater. Luckily, I even got chance to go to a school where there was a lot of theater activity taking place. After graduating, I along with my friends decided to form a theater group. And today I am here with the same theater group, Ruchika, celebrating its 47th year.

What do you want to change about the theater today?
I think theater should reflect more on the lives of people watching the play in the auditorium. Audience should have instant connection with the stage. In the past 10 years, everything has changed from the technology to the social institutions which have affected everyone. But I think the writers in the theater still haven’t been able to pick up the pulse of the audience and I think this should be changed.

How do you come up with the new ideas for direction? Where do you draw your inspiration from?
I come up with new ideas for direction and draw my inspiration from observation of real life. It is very often that, what I have read in newspaper has influenced me to come up with a script. I feel that inspiration can be drawn from every situation.

What advice would you give to someone who would want to pursue career in this field?
People should know that theater is not a full-time profession because the pay is not well. They should be able to combine it with other occupation as well. To come into this field, it would be better to learn everything, from acting to writing and even directing the play. People who want to pursue career in this field can’t be rigid and will have to learn to be open to new experiences.

What can Nepali audience expect out of the play ‘A Quiet Desire’?
This play is about the unexplored part of Rabindranath Tagore’s life, when he was young. The play explores a platonic relationship between him and his sister-in-law. I have taken the whole script from Tagore’s different writings. I have created his story using his own words because this was an important story of his life. 

Even though, people rarely know about Tagore, they will be able to connect with the stage, understand a young creative artist and the process he goes through before he actually starts getting recognition from other people. The play will take the audience on a journey to explore what happens to the artist as he becomes famous and where his life further proceeds. The play raises universal question so it doesn’t matter if you actually know his story.

You will also be conducting acting workshop for children in Kathmandu, why do think is necessary for children to have theater experience?
I have been running regular children’s training program for 18 years now. I feel like every child is an actor. Every child needs experience of the stage to grow up and should have one’s own space in the stage. 

When someone remembers their school days, they don’t remember teachers, home-works or punishment instead they reflect back to the time when they got to perform in the stage. This experience builds such confidence in a child which can never be replaced by any other experience.

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