Recently, Line, a play based on Israel Horovitz’s one-act play of the same name, was up at Shilpee Theater in Battisputali, Kathmandu. The play ran for three weeks. The incongruous drama’s entire plot showcases five people waiting in line for an event. The play starring Rajkumar Pudasaini, Sudam CK, Loonibha Tuladhar, Sandesh Shakya, and Saroj Aryal was directed and translated into Nepali by Akanchha Karki, who is a theater artist and a psychologist as well.
Karki reveals that she fell in love with theatrics when she was an awkward, shy and painfully grounded fourth grader. She was a new student that year in the Rato Bangala School in Patan, and she tried out for the Newari play at school. She got a role in the play but as a guy.
“That was the starting point for me. And even though I am a shy introvert to this day, I got the lead in every other school play till the year I graduated from Rato Bangala,” she says. She completed her Bachelor’s and Master’s education at the Christ University in Bangalore, India, where she majored in psychology and theater during her undergraduate studies (Bachelor's degree) and took up psychology as her major for post graduate diploma (Master’s degree).
Line was Karki’s first commercial directorial venture in Nepal. She has previously directed and acted in the Vagina Monologues. Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler is a collection of episodic plays. Karki collaborated with her friend Gunjan Dixit and they launched Katha Ghera, a theater group based in Kathmandu. Line and Vagina Monologues have both been produced and launched by Katha Ghera. During her days as a theater student in India, Karki directed various plays and she lists Face Hooked, The Giving Tree, and The Climb as her most successful ones.
Prior to the launch of Katha Ghera and after her return from India (after completing her studies), Karki worked part time at Ullens School as a psychologist. “Quitting my stable day job and plunging into theatrics without a clear vision of where it would take me was hard. It took me a year to just convince my parents that I wanted to do it and could do it,” she says.
Now, she confesses, it has turned out to be the best decision of her life. Karki and Dixit launched Katha Ghera and their very first drama via Katha Ghera, The Vagina Monologues, the same year. After that, there’s been no looking back. Karki says Katha Ghera has been running as an independent and self sustained establishment.
As of now, Karki is busy building a theater in her own backyard which will serve as the office for Katha Ghera, a theater to view all the dramas produced by Katha Ghera, and as a well equipped space for her psychological contrives as well.
“I cannot leave psychology behind. It’s my passion so I’m going to combine the two in all of my projects,” she says adding that she has many good ideas and plans in the pipeline for Katha Ghera. The third installment of Vagina Monologues will start next year in February and she is very excited to watch it unfold in her own backyard. She also reveals that the Katha Ghera team wants to take Vagina Monologue to the rural areas of Nepal as a women’s advocacy project of sorts.
Furthermore, Karki also has her eyes set on producing The Giving Tree and Gauri by Madhav Prasad Ghimire. With such good plans in place, it looks like theatergoers in Nepal have a lot to look forward to.