BENGALURU: Ask this year’s Shankar Nag award recipient Sankar Venkateswaran what he loves most about theatre, and he promptly replies, “It offers the possibility of imagining the world in a new light.”Ranga Shankara’s Shankar Nag Theatre Award is an annual national prize for a theatreperson below the age of 40. Started in 2014, the award carries a citation and a purse of `1 lakh.“I am from Kerala, and to have this kind of acknowledgment from Karnataka means a lot to me. I think my work has the maximum number of audience in Karnataka than anywhere else.”
Being a part of theatre production was never the plan for Venkateswaran. As a kid, he was interested in music. He used to learn percussion and also performed live. He slowly started getting involved in theatre through a group of college mates. He fell in love with theatre so much that he pursued it as a learning course. “I wanted to pursue it as a subject to know more about the field. I went for a three-year course at Intercultural Theatre Institute, Singapore. After returning, I established my theatre company in Delhi,” says Venkateswaran, who has been in theatre for more than 25 years now. He has produced critically acclaimed plays like Quick death, Neerina nilu thana, The Water Station etc.
According to Venkateswaran, his plays extensively work on “silence, slowness and stillness”. He has evolved in using his own versions of body language to create independent works, and directed plays like The Water Station, which is a two-hour silent play that sends out a gripping message.
Theatre for him is a way of life now. “The further I get involved into it, the more I believe we can imagine a new life. In theatre, we can be self- critical, question our decisions that we take in daily life and in society,” says Venkateswaram, who has directed plays in Japanese. German, English, Kannada and Malayalam. For this director, it’s not one eminent personality’s work, one production or one play that inspires him. He likes to take inspiration from “anything good” that he comes across. Working with actors has also taught him a lot, he adds.
The award will be given on Nov 10, the last day of the Ranga Shankara Theatre Festival, at 9pm.