n SATJ : South African Theatre Journal - ‘When you hold your eyes wide open, you actually don’t see fully’ : on translation processes in the solo performance Ravanama (2011) - interview

Volume 32 Number 1
  • ISSN : 1013-7548
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Maya Krishna Rao is a well-known name in contemporary Indian theatre, most widely known for her solo shows and for her performances in protest events in support of women’s rights and social justice. Each of her performances has a distinctive vocabulary and form, ranging from dance theatre, multimedia performance, to rock concerts and stand-up comedy. Rao’s performances are inspired by her training in Kathakali, allowing her to straddle the worlds of dance and theatre in the search for a contemporary language of performance. The themes respond acutely to issues in contemporary India and offer sharp glimpses of urban life. She has been commissioned by prestigious international theatre festivals and has travelled widely with her shows. She is a recipient of the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for acting in 2010, which she returned in 2015 in protest against what she described as the government’s indifference to the growing intolerance in India. Maya Rao was Professor at the Shiv Nadar University till 2017, where she taught Theatre for Education and Social Transformation.

This conversation took place in the framework of the research project on translation and performance (in collaboration with the University of Cape Town and the University of Amsterdam, 2016–19). Rao shared her reflections on the artistic processes of translation in the solo performance ‘Ravanama’. The conversation took place in July 2017 at Adishakti Laboratory for Theatre Arts & Research in Pondicherry, India.

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