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Fitting tribute to a doyen

Statesman News Service | New Delhi |

Jawahar Kala Kendra is presenting an exhibition focused on the work of eminent theatre exponent of India — Ebrahim Alkazi. “The Theatre of E Alkazi” (27 March to 6 May) is a retrospective of his theatre work, spanning a period of 50 years, curated by Amal Allana (Alkazi’s daughter) and designed by Nissar Allana. It was inaugurated as a part of the celebrations of Rajasthan Divas and World Theatre Day and will be on display till 6 May.

“A hushed silence enveloped our home. My father absorbed in the music, eyes shut, a notebook and a well-sharpened pencil are neatly placed in front of him, aligned at a perfect 90-degree angle to the corner of the table. His body, in the pose of Rodin’s ‘Thinker’, is relaxed, but at the same time suffused with a contained energy. Daylight breaks with its soft, pink light, the sound of the sea and the sparrows melt away to be overtaken by the cacophony of best buses. He has been awake since at least 5 am, reading, and has already made himself a pot of tea. In a few moments he will offer a fresh cup to my mother, in bed, a small luxury that she appreciates without fail,” said Amal.

He is a legendary figure of Indian theatre whose remarkable achievements have earned him the Padma Vibhushan, among a vast number of Lifetime Achievement Awards. His story runs parallel to the Independence Movement and the birth of Indian modernism in theatre. He introduced revolutionary ideas in theatre as early as the 1950’s in scenic design, lighting, modern ideas of acting drawing from international traditions and linking these ideas to the performing folk traditions of India. He evolved new training methodologies for student actors, directors and stage designers and spoke of a new ethics and philosophy in theatre.

The exhibition features multiple rooms of rare photographs, objects, archival documents, models of stage sets, using a multi media approach to exposing his vision and ideas. It shows for the first time, Alkazi’s work from the 1940’s and 1950’s that has rarely been seen anywhere in India, and brings a vast treasure of archival material into the public domain.

As a part of the exhibition, a seminar was organised. Participants include eminent theatre personalities like Amal Allana and Hema Singh and also theatre professionals like Ashok Banthia and Vishal Vijay. “We are honoured to have an exhibition of works by E Alkazi at JKK. He is the doyen of theatre who pushed the boundaries of Indian theatre and brought it in line with its international counterparts,” said Pooja Sood, director general, JKK. The exhibition is on display at the refurbished Museum Galleries of Jawahar Kala Kendra, Jaipur. These galleries are equipped with state of the art lighting systems matching international gallery standards.

Ever since its inception, the art and culture hub of JKK has committed to promote multiple types of art. It provides a platform that connects visitors, scholars and art enthusiasts with artists and artisans through a rich programme of exhibitions, music and theatre productions that encompass the culture, history and way of life prevalent in Rajasthan and India.