Ahead of the NEON Reading of her play The Day I Left Home, Rashma Kalsie talks about her love of Indian performing traditions.
What sector of the arts industry interests you most?
I am a playwright, and I like to use real-life stories to make drama for stage because I believe a writer cannot remain oblivious to his/her times. I think art has a political and social dimension. I love to see Shakespeare performed in Kathakali and other Indian performing traditions. I like drama for its universal appeal – audience is moved by the same stories in different parts of the world.
When did you become involved in the arts?
Having trained as a TV journalist and script writer, I was writing scripts for leading TV companies when I was selected to participate in a playwrights’ workshop led by the renowned playwright, Mahesh Dattani, in 1998. The workshop was sponsored by India Habitat Centre and TAG, a theatre company to select and train 15 playwrights from across India. A lecture series on Natyashastra, an ancient text of performing arts, by Dr. Bharat Gupt, initiated my inquiry into the ancient Indian dramatic tradition. I’ve written a book Ohh! Gods Are Online , and over a hundred scripts for TV shows and documentaries in India. I have published shorts and articles in print and online magazines. My early plays have been performed in Delhi. My recent play, The Rejected Girl, was short-listed in an all-India contest for one-act plays. My first play about Australian Indians, The Lost Dog, was performed at Walker Gallery & Arts Centre, Dandenong in 2012 and 2014.
What inspires you as a theatre artist?
Works of other artists, folk lore, classical texts, the vagaries of life.
If you could change one thing about Australian theatre, what would it be?
Bring more stories from different parts of the world on Australian stage. I would like to bring down tickets to $10.
What is one of your favourite past theatrical experiences?
Neighbourhood Watch, because it’s a well-told story about Melbourne.
What interests you most about the MTC CONNECT program?
That it brings to the stage diverse stories which are interesting and dramatic. Meeting artists from across the world is exciting – it adds to me as a writer. I have learnt from others’ performances.
What are some of the things you would like the MTC CONNECT program to work towards?
I hope some of the new works developed by MTC CONNECT ambassadors will get a wider audience.
A reading of The Day I Left Home will be held at Southbank Theatre, The Lawler on Monday 15 June as part of NEON Festival of Independent Theatre.