In Conversation with Theatre Maverick Varoon Anand, Founder – Kaivalya Plays
“My name is Varoon P. Anand, and I have been attempting to learn how to perform and create theatre for the last 8 years”.
In this one line we can deduce the passion and hunger flooding the creative nerves of the all so wrapped up experimental freak, Varoon.
Varoon began his initial theatre training in 2006 in the country of Panama in that nation’s first and only English language theatre, The Theatre Guild of Ancon. Being a community theatre group, all efforts of the participants went towards the maintenance and restoration of the playhouse. In 2008, he began to produce plays beginning with an improvised comedy group called Improv 8½ that still operates in the country. Varoon worked in 10 productions, primarily as an actor, but also as a producer, lighting technician, graphic designer, marketing manager, musician and sound operator over the two and a half years he served the community there. After leaving The Theatre Guild of Ancon as the Director of Productions after the 2008 season, he moved to India four years back. He returned to theatre three years ago as an actor for Actor Factor, Atelier Studios, Saanjha Sapnaa, Yatrik and a few smaller groups in Delhi. It was in August 2012 that Varoon began his own theatre company, Kaivalya Plays, as a registered NGO. In the two years since, he has seen it grow, with the help of many young minds and kind institutions, into a home for innovative work that allows new talent to flourish and seeks to create more opportunities for women on stage.
In 2014, Varoon Anand was able to finalize four associations for Kaivalya Plays in Delhi. The first is with the India Habitat Center for reviving and directing a monthly dramatized reading programme that is now in its sixth month. The second is with Shaheed Bhagat Singh College’s performing arts’ student group Natuve as the mentor and director of their annual stage productions. The third was with the television channel Comedy Central as an associate of the improvised comedy group that he created in March 2014, CueLess Improv, which he also trains and leads. And finally, with the Instituto Cervantes de Nueva Delhi (the Institute for Spanish of New Delhi) to create productions that create a cross-cultural dialogue of Indian and Spanish heritage through theatre. In that capacity, they have already presented three productions this year alone, and to create the fourth is where he seeks the kind aid of the Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation. The group’s maiden short film , Creamerica – a spoof on the Indian TV show CID, Godfather, other influences – won the ‘Best Short Film in 30 Minutes’ at the Spoofhmania film festival 2012.
A trailer of the short film, Creamerica, co-directed by Varoon P. Anand
Before he dedicated his life to the pursuit and performance of theatre, Varoon had a long list of testimonies to his being a jack of all trades. With a degree in Applied Economics, Varoon has worked professionally as a financial analyst, stock-broker, photographer, book publisher, marketing services analyst, and communications specialist. Currently, he is serving as the Principal Correspondent with the India Today Group since the past three years.
Our writer, Abhinav, in conversation with the experimental dramatist, Varoon P. Anand, Artistic Director at Kaivalya Plays, New Delhi.
Abhinav [A]. Tell us about your theatre journey.
Varoon [V]. 4 years of community theatre in Panama, 4 years in Delhi.
A. Which is the last best play you saw and why?
V. 3 Sakina Manzil by Ramu Ramanathan. Great use of space, sound, and beautifully paced with brilliant performances. The play was constructed as one whole, not just the individual parts.
A. Your favorite playwright?
V. Woody Allen
A. A play-character you like or would want to perform?
A. A classic play that you should have read?
V. Waiting for Godot
A. A play that changed your perception about the theatre?
V. Book of Mormon
A. How do you regard the Delhi/NCR theatre scene?
A. If you have ever been a part of a theatre production(s), can you recall an event that was insightful, significant or simply humorous?
V. There are many. But the common thread amongst all of them has been the treatment of young actors by senior directors. In Delhi, at least, there seems to be a nonsensical culture about blindly obeying people who have spent more time in theatre rather than critically evaluating the work of people you admire. Very often people have come to work for me just because we don’t charge fees for workshops – but have not seen any of my plays . I hear a lot of horror stories of how artists are treated and have seen it myself. No one has ever treated me that way and I think a great artist earns respect and leads by example, not by yelling or threats.
A. Tell us about your best and worst moment as an actor on stage?
V. Worst moments in retrospect are memorable. Over time you come to realize that the worst and best moments are the same, because they are memorable and give you something to build on. The only moments that are bad are the ones where you feel nothing while performing, simply going through the motions, spouting memorized lines without pushing through their meanings. I’ve had an incident where I was supposed to attack an actor with a sword and then die. The sword broke as soon as I pulled it out of the cape I had covered my face with. When I finally died the light went off. As I got up, the light accidentally came back on and I pretended to die again. It was a terrible moment as an actor but a hilarious memory and a memory I consider amongst my best.
A. Films or Theatre. Your preference and why?
V. They are separate animals with completely different wonderful things. I admire film far more, but I love theatre. Watching theatre can be far more of a trial than watching a movie. For a movie to find you it has to go through many channels of distribution, it takes a great deal more effort to make. Any idiot can perform theatre in any available empty space; it has the potential to be more powerful and pedestrian.
Overall, though, I think I’ve only seen real life-changing art in cinema. It can create a far more vast landscape and also make you focus on the tiniest detail should the camera zoom in. In theatre, the audience can look wherever they want and are constantly looking at an entire stage. Getting the audience to focus on one point is always more difficult and it has far more limitations than the magic cinema can create. But the performance of actors in plays can be more powerful than cinema, especially when one appreciates that you only get one shot at getting one’s lines right and delivering a performance on stage.
Latest posts by Abhinav Goyal (see all)
- In Conversation with Theatre Maverick Varoon Anand, Founder – Kaivalya Plays - December 18, 2014
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