Little Theatre’s Krishnakumar Balasubramanian on bringing Star Wars to the stage and working with Suhasini Maniratnam
Directing veterans like Y Gee Mahendra one day, and training amateurs the other. It is an interesting time to speak with Krishnakumar Balasubramanian (KK), artistic director of Little Theatre. While the former is for a play, I am an Actor, Your Honour, to be staged at the Gollapudi Srinivas Memorial Awards today, the latter involves his labour of love, the Christmas pantomime, which is Star Wars in its 22nd edition.
Directing I am an Actor, Your Honour—portions of which have also been directed by Suhasini Maniratnam and Priya V—has been an interesting experience, he says. “The play is about a daughter (Madhuvanthi Arun) convincing her father (Mahendra) to undergo a heart surgery,” KK says, confessing that he is not sure how he got chosen. Suhasini has the answer. “We’re attempting a multimedia production, involving theatre and film, and wanted to rope in a professional for the play. I’ve known (founder) Ayesha Rau and The Little Theatre for sometime and that’s how KK got onboard,” she says. Without divulging much, she says the plan is to infuse a few elements of theatre in the film segment and vice versa.
In contrast, there is KK’s pet project, the Christmas pantomime, for which auditions will be held this week. He will direct and script it besides working on sets, sound and stunts. “My decision to make a career on stage happened after I first saw a Christmas pantomime. I was in Class VI and it was Cleopatra. I was impressed by (photographer and actor) Sunder Ramu playing the panto dame,” he recalls. Sheer coincidence then that years later, as a 20-year-old, KK nailed the character of Dame Esmeralda in the 2007 panto, Pirates of the Curried Beans.
As for the upcoming edition, scripting will begin soon, he says, once the cast is finalised. “As a platform for amateur actors, we want to conceptualise the script based on their strengths,” he says. A Star Wars fan, KK is excited to bring on stage immortalised characters like Princess Leia, Han Solo, Chewbacca and Darth Vader, besides creating a character rooted in Chennai to add a local flavour. “Who knows, it could be Kabali this year,” he says. Besides the panto, he is also working on a musical to be staged at the 2017 edition of The Little Theatre’s International Theatre Festival.
Auditions on August 13-14, from 4-8 pm. At Nungambakkam. For ages 18 and upwards. Details: thelittletheatreindia.com