Please tell us about yourself
Anupama Jayaram is a young actor, drama educator and one of the founder members of a company called Fantasia. Anupama completed her B.A. in English Literature from Sophia College in Mumbai in the year 1997. She then went on to do her M.A. in English Literature at Mumbai University and completed the same in the year 2000. Anupama has been trained in Carnatic as well as Hindustani Classical Music for seven years. Her education in music has helped her hone her art as an actor and this is evident in plays such as ME GRAND DAD ‘AD AN ELEPHANT and TIME TO TELL A TALE. Although Anupama has had no formal training in the sphere of acting, her acting talents have been appreciated by many. It is not for nothing that writer-director Ramu Ramanathan cast her as Claire Lannes for a script as mature and sensitive as L’AMANTE ANGLAISE. The following conversation traces her tryst with the theatre so far.
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How did you end up in such an offbeat, unconventional and cool career?
It was sheer coincidence. I was pursuing my Masters in English at Mumbai University, when there was a buzz about a playwright by the name of Ramu Ramanathan, who was to visit the English Department to help start a reading club. The idea of exploring various play scripts got me interested and, subsequently, this very reading club, comprising approximately 8 to 10 students led to the birth of NOT QUITE THERE PRODUCTIONS. Besides, theatre undoubtedly remains a powerful medium to communicate and articulate one’s thoughts, ideas, concepts etc.
You have worked with one director-Ramu Ramanathan so far. Can you explain what has made you work with Ramu repeatedly till date?
Well, I’ve been extremely fortunate to work with Ramu, to say the least. It’s been a thoroughly phenomenal and humbling experience to have him as a mentor. Working with him has lend me a new perspective towards theatre; one that is progressive, rich in taste and most importantly theatre that is accessible to one and all. He introduced us to the idea of performing in various “non-theatrical”, “non-traditional” spaces, like schools, colleges, parks,libraries…… name it…. In all the plays that we’ve worked on so far, be it “ME Grandad ‘ad an elephant or “Anst Angst…….or “Time To Tell A Tale” ,until the very recent “L’Amant Anglaise”, Ramu’s sole intention was to propogate a form of theatre without the ‘theatricality’. No clever lines; no heavy-duty light changes; nothing extravagant in terms of sets and costumes; just the pureness of words and the candid performances.
Which is the best production you have seen till date and why?
Habib Tanvir’s “Agra Bazaar” and “Charan Das Chor”, performed at the Prithvi Festival this year, remain my favorite productions. At the end of it I was left with nothing but a sense of awe for this legend of a man. Habib Saab’s stagecraft, his enchanting sense of music, and his distinct style of theatre rooted in his tradition are few of the many things, held me completely spellbound. What drew me closer to his plays was the fact that his works carried significant questions and comments on the socio-political concerns in the present world order.
In today’s world, where more and more people seem to be looking for some form of entertainment that can stimulate the mind and present ideas that one can mull over, it is imperative that theatre- plays a vital role in our cultural consciousness -, be refreshingly different and accessible to one and all. Habib Saab’s plays seem to fulfil all these requirements.
Claire Lannes of the play-L’AMANTE ANGLAISE is not a simple character to portray? How did you prepare for the role?
On the contrary, from the very start, the character of Claire Lannes never came across as one that was too complicated simply because I believe that Claire Lannes exists in almost every woman one would come across. But it’s just a handful of them who would demonsrate their courage to find an alternative to the given norm.
There was no formal preparation as such for the role, although I read and re-read the script innumerable times so as to make sure I did complete justice to the script. But over and above that every show revealed something new about Claire and about Duras. So in that sense each show was a process of discovery for me that in turn helped me prepare better for the approaching show.
What qualities according to you must an actor possess?
In my opinion there are two kinds of actors – those who think and analyze carefully and those who simply feel…I would fit myself into the latter, although I don’t really know way is better than the other. What’s important for an actor is to be able to deliver the goods. Nothing else matters. Your first performance must seem like the 20th.