: Neelam Mansingh directs and performs theatre. Her most recent directorial work was License – The Untitled Saga. A Padma Shri and Sangeet Natak Akademi Awardee, she has participated in numerous international theatre festivals in the UK, USA, Australia, Japan, Pakistan and Singapore. She has also directed Ariel Dorfman’s Nachiketa Libretto with the Opera Circus in London. Neelam has been teaching in the Department of Indian Theatre in Punjab University since 1990 and has also been the Department’s Chairperson. Neelam has completed teaching residencies at the University of California in Los Angeles and the University of North Carolina.
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How do you think has theatre evolved with the advent of technology? How tough is the role of a director.

There are certain directors who use technology in their work, they use a lot of multimedia for the theatrical production. I, however, happen to have never used it in my work. Thereby, I can barely comment on the evolution owing to technology. Furthermore, the art of directing is like telling stories and the whole concept revolves around how you get yourself to do that. It is like any other art form demanding immense dedication, commitment and involvement.

You have participated in numerous International Theatre festivals. How do you think does the theatre audience across the globe differ?

We, certainly, cannot create a demographic mapping of that. Each member of the audience in even a local production, for that matter, is carrying its own context. Moreover, an artist is likely to create a certain image on the stage with a further creation of
its own cultural code to represent that image and the fact of absence of that culture code in other parts of the world may induce a different reading or inference in the spectators.

Kindly tell us about your articles on the subject of theatre.

I consider it an extension of the work that I do as a director. Writing or talking about any work that one does is an extension of the very work. My real work is of directing plays. I work with the actors in the rehearsal space and the act of writing about it is an auxiliary function to it.

Our readers would love to know about The Company, The Center of Music and Performing Arts established by you.

It is a center known for creating theatre that fuses source material from Western classics with a performance style grounded in an earthy Punjabi aesthetic. Its productions are characterized by the use of spare props – sticks, fire, rice, washing poles – which evoke the ambiance of an Indian village and incorporates music, ritualistic elements and the presentation of poetic images that communicate as strongly as words. Among its many performers are a group of traditional Naqqals (female impersonators) who have had a long tradition of performers. This is what has enabled it to earn quite a hype.

What are you looking forward to in the upcoming Art and Literature Festival, 'Valley of Words'?

I am looking forward to some essential conversation with people from across different disciplines and the fact that Nirupama Dutt is quite familiar with the work I am into, I am pretty excited about the good conversation I’d embark on with her, in particular.

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