Master of theatre
Veteran theatre person V. Ramamurthy speaks of the total experience of theatre that implies team work, discipline and dedication.
“I wanted to be a Jack of all trades and master of at least one,” those were the words of V. Ramamurthy, a person who has dedicated 55 years to theatre and lighting design. Having touched all aspects of theatre, including m
ime, and set his mind on one, this National School of Drama alumnus says, “It’s the desire of most people to act. But, when technology and techniques develop we too are influenced and therefore make choices.”
When he speaks of his entry into theatre he is also drawing our attention to the reason for the absence of dedicated theatre professionals in the early years. Often people are compelled to take to theatre as a part-time activity despite being passionate about it because theatre was not paying enough. Such an approach benefited neither the nine-to-five job nor theatre. When realisation dawned, Ramamurthy gave up his job with Indian Telephone Industries, Bangalore, and moved to the National School of Drama(NSD) to pursue the course in direction.
“I have no regrets. There has been no looking back, and life has been full of smooth take offs and rough landings, as well as the reverse. It happens in every profession,” says this master in theatre design who received training at the East-West Centre, Hawaii, and had a three-year stint at the Institute of Theatre Technology, New York.
“New York was an exciting phase of my career. I had the opportunity to work with Kliegl Bros, the pioneers in the field of designing and installing lighting for theatre films and television. Theatre is considered an industry, people in theatre have so much security. Tickets are priced high, yet you have performances that go on for years at the Broadway. Unfortunately this is not so in our country,” he says.
It has been the bane of theatre in our country that there always was a line dividing the professional and the amateurs.
“Why don’t we speak of amateur engineers, doctors or administrators? Why this division of the professional and the amateur for theatre?” is his question. Among the early graduates from NSD to start out as a freelancer, a major influence on him has been the towering personality of Ebrahim Alkazi the theatre director who knew what a theatre space should look like and inspired a whole generation in all fields of production. Not surprising therefore to hear Ramamurthy speaking of the total experience of theatre which implies team work, discipline, dedication and a spirit of equality that gives a “pleasure that money cannot give.”
In Thiruvananthapuram to lead a 10-day Women’s Technical Theatre Workshop by Nireeksha, V. Ramamurthy moves on with the conviction that he is a part of the relay team handing over to the succeeding generations traditional knowledge and the will to innovate, in order to ensure variety and dynamism to theatre.
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