Henrik Ibsen’s WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN Director: Sankar Venkateswaran


Playwright: Henrik Ibsen

Director: Sankar Venkateswaran

Group: Jangama Collective, Singapore

Language: English

Duration: 1 hr 25 mins

The Play

The play consists of a few final episodes from the life of an ageing sculptor, who achieved fame at the expense of personal happiness. The artist in his old age has lost his inspiration, he wanders around aimlessly, has stopped producing art works and his marriage with his young wife is at the verge of a breakdown. He comes across a deranged stranger lady, who claims to be dead. He comes to realize that the strange lady was once his muse and model to his most famous work of art. His interests were only artistic while she suffers a certain death of soul due to the unrequited love. His wife breaks free from him to find life and love in a bear hunter, while the artist and the model dredge up and dig through a difficult past to realize that the life they led is irretrievable.

Director’s Note

The questions are, why should we care about this play and the characters today? And how do we approach them? The answer to the first question, I think, is that these characters are like us, in their selfishness, denials and egos. My answer to the second question leads to another difficult question and is rather harsh. What if we deny the author his words, his rhetoric, the way the sculptor denies acknowledging a life beneath his model which then turned her into a statue! And when we do that to this play, we are left with a phantasmal envelope of silence where bodies move like ghosts and speak their silence. This might start to provoke our imaginations beyond the spoken, and we might start to see the irretrievable. We may begin to ask questions such as- are we awake? Are we dreaming? Or, are we dead? Do we need to wake from the dream or death? What happens when we dead awaken?

The Director

Sankar Venkateswaran is a theatre director and dramaturg from Kerala, India. He graduated from the Calicut University School of Drama and Fine Arts, and pursued his post-graduate training at Theatre Training and Research Programme (now Intercultural Theatre Institute), Singapore. Currently, Sankar has set up a cultural space in Attappady, Kerala, and works with the indigenous communities of the region. He is a recipient of the International Ibsen Scholarship 2013 (Teater Ibsen, Norway) and Ustad Bismillah Khan Yuva Puraskar 2011, and was a jury member for Zurich Theater Spektakel 2016.

The Playwright

Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906) was a Norwegian playwright, theatre director, and poet. He is considered by many as the ‘father of realism’ and remains one of the most influential playwrights of his time and is the most frequently performed dramatist in the world after Shakespeare. Ibsen’s dramas have a strong influence upon contemporary culture, and continue to be staged in different languages around the world today.

The Group

Jangama is a collective of five actors/performance-makers that strive to create work that may speak across cultural and linguistic barriers through their own forms and languages. The collective comprises of Lakshmana KP (India), Pooja Mohanraj (India), Hau Guei Sze (Malaysia), Caroline Chin (Singapore) and Alexander Beard (Australia). The five have been undergoing training at the Intercultural Theatre Institute in Singapore, an actor training institution that focuses on immersing actors in both Western and Eastern theatre forms. Each of them is working as independent artists in their own countries, while continuing to connect with each other and create work around the world.

Cast & Credits

Maia Rubek: Pooja Mohanraj

Arnold Rubek: Lakshmana KP

Ulfheim, a bear hunter: Alexander Beard

Irene, a stranger lady: Caroline Chin

Sister of Mercy: Hau Guei Sze

Translator: William Archer

Original cast of Ulfheim: Yazid de Jalil

Movement consultant: Lim Chin Huat

Voice and Speech consultant: Simon Stollery

Production photographer: Bernie Ng

Headshot photographer: Gabriela Neeb

Supporting Institution: Intercultural Theatre Institute

Playwright: Henrik Ibsen

Director: Sankar Venkateswaran

Manohar Khushalani

Manohar Khushalani

Prof. Manohar Khushalani is a former Visiting Faculty at Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, Delhi. The courses he taught were: Animation & Graphics, Non-Linear Editing for Film and Radio and Theatre Appreciation.  He has won a total of nine Excellence in Teaching awards for all the courses he has taught at IIITD Earlier he retired from Government of India as Director Environment Management, Central Water Commission and held many senior positions in the Government Based on a Belief that Culture and Environment are the two keys to global sustainability , Manohar Khushalani has launched two portals: A Portal on Environment and Water called One Vorld at url: www.onevorld.org and two Ezines on Culture called Stage Buzz at url: www.stagebuzz.in He has taught extensively in varied subjects such as Dam Safety, Instrumentation, CAD, IT, Animation, Theatre, Newspaper Editing. He has conducted Courses on Environment Management, Water Shed Development, Team Building and Personality Development. He was an Expert Member of Prasar Bharti’s Committee for Grading & Short listing Films for Telecast on all channels of Doordarshan.  He is a Radio Anchor for All India Radio and has moderated several programs for the Rajdhani Channel He is a well-known Theatre Actor/Director and Critic, has been involved in theatre since 1977. He has worked as an actor in over 50 plays with almost every leading director/Actor in the Country including Badal Sircar, Feisal Alkazi, Amal Allana, M.K. Raina, Anuradha Kapoor, Maya Rao, Manohar Singh, Prasanna, Rati Bartholomew and Sushmita Mukherji. He has been active in the social sector as a street theatre activist. As a member of Workshop Theatre, Theatre Union and Prayog, Khushalani has participated in street plays taking up major social issues such as dowry, bride burning, Sati, banned medicinal drugs and communalism. Dario Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist and Can’t Pay Won’t Pay, both directed by him, received rave notices from critics and audiences alike. Other plays directed by him include Badal Sircar’s, Sagina Mahato and Boris Vian’s Empire Builders for Ruchika Theatre Group. Khushalani has also acted in a few films such as Sudhir Mishra's Hazaron Khwaishen Aisi , Shoojit Sircar’s Madras Café and Pradeep Krishan's Annie Gives Those Ones. He is an Animator & Graphics Designer and has directed a number of documentaries. He also held a number of Honorary positions and was President of North India Films Association, He was the Chairman of  Jury for UGC CEC Educational Films Competition and has been on their Preview Committee since last many years. He was on the preview committee of Door Darshan Channel 3, was a visiting Professor at National School of Drama, New Delhi, and Film & Television Institute of India, Pune, AJKMCRR, Jamia Milia Islamia and Professor in Media at FICT, Delhi  He has judged a large number of Drama Competitions and conducted a number of Theatre / Management Games Workshops with Institutions such as AIIMS, NTPC, CWPRS, NWA, Karve Nari Prakshishan Sansthan, FICT, IIT, MAMC, Gargi College, KNC, Tagore International School and Vivekananda School. He is a Theatre Critic for IIC Diary, has also been a Columnist with Midday and Pioneer Daily and wrote Column's Called Culture Cocktail and Footlights Respectively. He was also the Guest Editor for an issue on Folk Theatre of ICCR Journal Horizons. He has written for Times of Indian, Hindustan Times, Blitz, Hard News, Hindu Business Line, Theatre India & Art Times. He has designed dams and hydraulic structures for the Government. He is a programmer and has developed Engineering design software in Fortran. He is a co-author of Irrigation Practice & Design (Vol 1 to5 - 1500 pages) published by Oxford & IBH and sponsored by National Book Trust. He has been a Director, Environment and Sociology, at the National Water Academy, Khadakwasla and Director, Environment Management Directorate, Central Water Commission and Member Secretary, National Environmental Monitoring Committee for River Valley Projects. He was also Director of Instrumentation Directorate in the Dam Safety Organisation. He was Chief General Manager and Head of Water Resources at Scott Wilson and is an accredited consultant with numerous other organizations He is a Delhi Public School, BITS Pilani, IIT Delhi and FTI Pune Alumini. He was also the President of BITS Pilani Alumni Association, Pune.

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