Theatre Director Gurleen Judge juggles between her roles as light technician, designer, director, writer and a teacher. Gurleen is a self-taught theatre wala and takes pride in it. She chats with Rasa Aur Drama about lights, casting, scripts, and gender in this email interview; just before her show of DEKHO MAGAR PYAAR SE at Gyaan Adab Centre, Pune! Gurleen has done lighting for plays like The Hunger Artist, Tennesse Williams The Two-Character Play, Dohri Zindagi, Atul Kumar's Khwaab Sa, Manav Kaul's Peele Scooterwala Aadmi and Chuhal!
Vikrant Dhote (left) and Gurleen Judge
Image Source: THE HINDU
Rasa Aur Drama: Light Design and direction across plays like The Hunger Artist , The Two-Character Play, Dohri Zindagi, Postcards from Bardoli, Peele Scooterwala Aadmi and Chuhal?
What's so exciting about the direction and light design. We kind of see some perspective there?
Gurleen Judge: Jennifer Tipton often says that ninety-nine and forty-four-hundredths of the audience do not pay any attention to the lighting, but one hundred percent is affected by it. Nothing can be truer. Theatre is a visual medium after all and lighting, the image and the movement / breath with which the light moves, defines and is in turn defined by the rhythm of the piece. Light design continues to hugely influence my ideas of making theatre in a very fundamental way.
Through directing I’m able to express my most urgent need to talk about whatever it is that is plaguing my mind at that time. I also write but a performance piece allows for more abstraction.
Q2. What kind of script interest you?
Gurleen Judge: Good scripts. With urgency and grit.
Q3. Do you like to train your actors or would you be happy to fit an actor to a role ? Could you tell us something about the acting and script translation to action with the wonderful Vikrant Dhote in Dekho Magar Pyaar Se?
Gurleen Judge: Training is part of the rehearsal process but I do look for certain qualities before I cast. These change as per each show and what I think is most needed keeping in mind the vision of the play. Vikrant had already worked out the idea for the piece. We were interested in developing it together with the audience in a way and we kept editing the script through shows too.
Q4. The city Pune has witnessed a play like Saggherr Loadhii's Hijra and now DEKHO MAGAR PYAAR SE?
Are playwrights and plays like Mahesh Dattani's Bravely Fought the Queen, On a Muggy Night in Mumbai , Do the needful , Dekho Magar Pyaar Se changing or affecting the dialogue around gender, identity and prejudiced-social-construct ?
Gurleen Judge: I think it’s impossible to gauge or estimate the consequences of a piece of art. It’s a subliminal process, even if one person, maybe even a decade from now, is affected by it, that is a ‘change’ for me. All I know is that I continue to be influenced by theatre - as an audience as well as when I’m making a play. My worldview has evolved from the theatre in a way. So yes I hope and believe in the possibilities of affecting status quo. However, I see it as part of a larger process, where the society is undergoing a change in general and one can’t really identify the starting point of that process.
Q5. How did the idea of the piece Dekho Magar Pyaar Se actually come to you?
Gurleen Judge: Vikrant has developed it over a few workshops and then through Gender Bender grant . I just hopped onto the wagon :-)
Image Source: Mumbai Theatre Guide
Q6. Could you talk about the four stories in the play?
Gurleen Judge: Lot has been written about the four stories so I won’t go in detail - but I think what interests me most about the piece is the journey it undertakes to investigate the contours of “masculinity” and “maleness” in this Alpha -Male patriarchal world. What it means for people inside this boundary, what it means for people at the edge and outside and how does one negotiate it in an every-day manner.
Q7. What extracts of the landmark 2009 judgment on section 377 by the High Court could you have referred in the play?
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