A blend of theatre and documentary, Anuja Ghosalkara��s Lady Anandi is a must-watch this weekend
Theatre actor Anuja Ghosalkara��s current work Lady Anandi piques onea��s interest in many ways.
First of all, ita��s an unfinished piece, or as she likes to put it a�?60 per cent undonea�?. Second, it tells the story of her maternal great grandfather, Madhavrao Tipnis, who was a female impersonator in Marathi theatre in the late 1800s. It compares what it meant for a man to play the role of a woman back in the day, and for Mumbai-born and Bengaluru-based Ghosalkar to play a woman with a�?authenticitya�? today. And since much of it is a real story, her team at Bengalurua��s Drama Queen has gone the docu-theatre way, a genre thata��s catching up in the theatre circles lately. So expect images and documents dug out from century-old archives, and libraries as part of the narrative.
Brush with history
a�?Ita��s like a performance on a footnote,a�? a JNU student remarked after watching the play in New Delhi recently. Ghosalkar took it with a smile, as she treats it no less than a research paper. The text for Lady Anandi was written last September, during her month-long residency at Art Lab Gnesta, Sweden. In the play, Lady F, an actor-writer, is haunted by the ghost of her maternal great grandfather every time she goes on stage. When she encounters him, she finds him dressed as a woman in a red silk sari, essaying the role of Lady Anandi a�� a controversial 18th century Indian historical figure, who forced her husband to become a murderer for power.
The idea of looking up her ancestora��s work had lingered in her head since she read Virginia Wolfa��s A Room of Onea��s Own two years ago. It mentions Judith, William Shakespearea��s imaginary sister. Though she was as talented as her brother, she didna��t have the access to education and opportunities. It was a comment on the lack of women writers and actors in those times. Ghosalkar says, a�?There were very few female actors when my great grandfather performed. That got me thinking what would it had been like a�� for him to play a woman.a�?
Work in progress
Lack of funds, as well as people who cana��t devote a�?time of their livesa�? to Lady Anandi got Ghosalkar to a�?run with it unfinisheda�?. And that ended up playing to her benefit. Does Ghosalkar ever intend to finish the piece, we ask? a�?Thata��s a good question,a�? she laughs, and adds, a�?Yes. I will. An unfinished piece, as I see it now, would mean a good technical piece, with a light designer on board, and a director. Of course, funding.a�?
Entry free. March 11 (At
Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Sadashivanagar, 6.30 pm); March 12 (At BeaglesLoft, Ulsoor Road, 6.30 pm). Details: sandboxcollective.org
a�� Barkha Kumari