PUDUCHERRY: Well-known theatre personality, Veenapani Chawla, (67), died after a massive heart attack around noon on Sunday according to one of her close associates at the Adishakti Theatre.
The actress-director-writer was the founder of Adishakti Laboratory for Theatre Art Research, Auroville, which aimed to promote research in new theatre.
According to the website of Adishakti, Veenapani Chawla established Adishakti in 1981 and was its Managing Trustee and Artistic Director. She had directed most of Adishakti’s performances and scripted half of these. Her work has extensively toured India as well as foreign countries. In 1996 her Impressions of Bhima was performed in Paris, New York (Asia Society) and at UCLA. Since 1987 Veenapani had been engaged in research towards creating a performance methodology based on ancient knowledge. In 2006, she was a speaker at the Berkshire Conference, USA and in March 2007 she presented a paper at the International Seminar on Theatre Performance Techniques at the Department of Performing Arts and Culture Industries at the University of Leeds, UK.
Since 1999 Veenapani has been engaged in designing the Adishakti campus, which houses the members of the Adishakti Theatre, Dance, Music and Puppetry Repertory Company. The artists’ residences, the Guest House and Theatre on the Adishakti campus are the result of collaboration between her and architect Srinivas Vasthukam of Kerala.
In April 2010 she conducted workshops for internationally renowned theatre directors, through a program called the Directors Forum, organized by the Centre for Performance Research, Aberystwyth University, Wales, UK. Veenapani was also concerned about the need to develop a unique aesthetic for contemporary theatre, which would make the genre relevant in the time of cinema. In 2011 she was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Puruskar for Theatre Director. She was also recognised through a book edited by Shanta Gokhale, published by Oxford University Press: The Theatre of Veenapani Chawla - Theory Practice and Performance in 2014.
The funeral is expected to take place on Monday.